Analyzing the Instagram photos of urbanites, the Phototrails project identifies the visual signature of cities. The project uses software to analyze millions of photos from 13 cities in order to find the visual preferences of each metropolis. Since Instagram users can choose certain filters, the project looks at both filter type and frequency at certain times of the day.
The Phototrails project is the result of a collaboration between researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, CUNY's Graduate Center, and the California Institute for Telecommunication and Information. Through the project, the researchers were able to find unique patterns between cities by organizing the pictures in different ways.
In addition to looking at cities as an aggregate collection of photos, the team also analyzed Instagram photos at different times. The frequency of photos during different times of the day and during crises reveals how urbanites interact with the visual medium.