COMMENT: Capital must protest its reputation

THE way that Google views Edinburgh is important '“ because in many ways that is how the world sees us.

So, how do we feel about being regarded as a popular, windy, haunted, dirty and expensive city? Well, it might not be an entirely flattering view, but it sure beats the image that people seem to have of many other cities.

Just try typing the words “Why is (any city of your choice) so...” into Google and see what comes up. It is an amusing way to pass five minutes and throws up some interesting results. Aberdeen is apparently grey and expensive, Liverpool supposedly hated and London big, busy and foggy.

There are dangers of course in reading too much into what the tech giant’s algorithms throw up when we carry out a search. We know beyond doubt that Edinburgh is seen around the globe as one of the world’s great cities. The evidence for that is in front of us every day, both in the huge number of visitors we attract and the countless best city awards conferred on us by judges at home and abroad.

Yet this information does offer a fascinating snapshot of some of the images that millions of people have of our city. There is good news in that for Edinburgh. Who wouldn’t want to be known as popular? Most cities would kill for that kind of association. Windy? Expensive? Hard to deny. Haunted? Who knows. Dirty? That is the worrying one. Nobody wants that reputation and the fact that it is so readily being associated with our beautiful city is food for thought.

Of course we don’t need Google to tell us that we are, collectively, doing a pretty poor job of keeping our streets clean. But we need to do something about it.

It is also interesting to consider how people’s images of Edinburgh are changing in these days of mass communication and social media. These things can change pretty quickly. A city which relies on tourism for so many jobs must protect its reputation and ignores warning signs like this at its peril.