Mapping emotions onto the city streets

Christian Nold maps cities. But instead of mapping their physical layout, he maps their emotional geography.

He uses a technique he invented called biomapping where participants walk the area connected to a system that measures galvanic skin response – a measure of the electrical resistance of the skin which is known to give a rating of arousal and stress.

The system is also connected to a GPS device, so the stress response of each person is physically mapped onto the landscape.

His maps describe an area in terms of how stressful it is, and so far, he’s mapped Greenwich in London, San Francisco and Stockport.

He’s also done a project that maps the sensory experiences of Newham.

I had the pleasure of meeting Christian the other night and one of the best things is is that he’s persuaded Ordinance Survey, the UK’s mapping agency, to print the maps!

I have a copy of the Greenwich map and so far everyone I’ve showed it to has been blown away.

You can buy paper copies of the maps, but also view them in full detail online.

Link to Emotion Map.
Link to Christian Nold’s website.


  1. Posted January 15, 2008 at 12:12 am | Permalink

    Cool idea! But wouldn’t walking around create unacceptable noise on the galvanic skin response output? I collaborated on a gambling task study a while back where we used galvanic skin response as a physiological measure, and participants talking or scratching their nose would create whackiness in the data. So rather than emotion, we might be seeing a lot of noise, right? Or is there just such a big difference that it shows up on top of the walking and moving body spikes?
    Still, cool project idea.

  2. nagaddis
    Posted January 17, 2008 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    I can’t help but wonder what an Emotion Map of Philly would look like…

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