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Unveiling urban dynamics: An exploration of tools and methods using crowd-sourced data for the study of urban space (Introduction)



The following work presents several trans-disciplinary resources for understanding cities beyond just their physical form and spatial processes. The conceptualization of cities from a top-down, modern and post- modern approach to the form-function duality lacks multiple dimensions, which need to be studied in order to gain a proper understanding of how contemporary urban societies perform nowadays. Instead, this work considers settlements as a set of an infinite number of individual perceptions and experiences, which construct overlapping layers of hidden and intangible information that shape cities as complex systems. Social relations that are moving progressively to the virtual realm are becoming major factors in decision- making and location choices by citizens. This definition of a city’s hidden image is developed through the study of data retrieved from online servers. To do so, this work focuses on spatial and temporal activity patterns, values of certain places and their quantitative weight within the urban fabric, the distribution and nature of places, the observation of people’s perception of certain places through the representation of activities captured by pictures posted online, or several other theoretical and methodological approaches under the umbrella of crowd-sourced data in the city. See full text:
Jesús López Baeza
Agua y desarrollo sostebible
Tesis presentada para aspirar al grado de
Dr. Pablo Martí Ciriquián
Universidad de Alicante
The following work presents several trans-disciplinary resources for understanding cities beyond just their
physical form and spatial processes. The conceptualization of cities from a top-down, modern and post-
modern approach to the form-function duality lacks multiple dimensions, which need to be studied in order
to gain a proper understanding of how contemporary urban societies perform nowadays. Instead, this work
considers settlements as a set of an innite number of individual perceptions and experiences, which construct
overlapping layers of hidden and intangible information that shape cities as complex systems.
Social relations that are moving progressively to the virtual realm are becoming major factors in decision-
making and location choices by citizens. This denition of a city’s hidden image is developed through the study
of data retrieved from online servers. To do so, this work focuses on spatial and temporal activity patterns,
values of certain places and their quantitative weight within the urban fabric, the distribution and nature of
places, the observation of people’s perception of certain places through the representation of activities captured
by pictures posted online, or several other theoretical and methodological approaches under the umbrella of
crowd-sourced data in the city.
Shaping space
Following the modern and postmodern approach on urban systems, the spatial distribution of places involves
acknowledging and dening the characteristics of urban morphology, which plays an active role in driving the
temporal patterns spaces host (Hillier, 2007). In this context, the spatial linkage between places would drive
location choice (Sevtusk, 2010) and consequently determine urban life. In contrast to this approach, the work
presented in this thesis hypothesizes that the social and behavioral dynamics of people are not only determined
and conditioned by the spatial form of places, but anthropologically based on social perception, cognition,
needs and desires, which are developed socially and inuenced by practices and narratives related to the
meaning of places. The conceptualization of something hidden beyond urban space has been evolving over
modern and post-modern times as a dualism between tangible space and people in it. This conceptualization
starts from the simple fact of an individual’s perception of space and the study of its role in identity generation
from a psychosocial perspective (Stokols and Shumaker 1981) and develops into complex socio-spatial
theories. Duarte (2017) focuses on human perception, conception, and relation to establish a denition of
spaces, places, and territories acknowledging the dening role of the human component, space being an
abstract substratum where places and territories are located.
As a multispectral approach on spatial denition, the human dimension of space is common to virtually all
descriptions. Rapoport’s (1977) man-environment studies formulate and dene a mutual interaction, where
people shape the environment and places affect people. The description of this process is unintentionally touched
upon by McLuhan and Fiore (1967) when claiming that the medium is the message. From this perspective
neither people nor places could exist without each other, since humans shape spaces as a consequence of
social practice, and places affect people’s perceptual cognition, behavior, identity, and eventually the whole
construction of the self. This dualism – man-environment, social-spatial – acknowledges space as a social
product, which is constructed from its use and the everyday experiences of individuals (Lefebvre, 1974;
Certeau, 1984; Neal, 2012). In a like manner, individuals consume narratives and values linked to specic
locations. The acknowledgement of values and narratives inherent to places and their intentional use to
reshape how an individual is dened – or projected in public – are explored by Schwartz & Halegoua (2014),
as a description of how space shapes people further from cognitive, perceptive or behavioral theories alone.
Places describe human geographies from a social-spatial dialectic in which the temporal dimension also has
a dening role (Soja 1985), cities being an addition of social events accumulated over time. In sum, cities
are complex systems composed of layers of different natures, with the characteristic of interconnectedness
as a relational network inherent to social and societal structures (Castells 2004). The human layers of cities
construct traces that embrace perceptual polysemy, which characterizes contemporary urban life (Lazzarini &
López Baeza 2017).
The dualism between space and people gives rise to further interpretations of deeper and more complex relations
between the characteristics of each side. An extensive body of literature on socio-spatial theory refers to space
as a location but also as the setting of physical tangible elements, whereas the social layers are often related
to immaterial values, thus acknowledging a dualism between tangible and intangible. Exploring the mutual
relation between the two sides of this dualism, Stewart (2009) denes a discursive space as a key element in
tangible space production. Specically focusing on the n de siècle period in German-speaking countries, she
claims that intangible discourses shaped urban spaces through disruption and discussion by means of collective
bargaining. With the involvement of designers and the general public, decisions were taken in a participatory
manner and had formal consequences. Similarly to contemporary participation methods, coffee discussions
among intellectuals about what places should look like were generators of a discursive space, which contained
intangible values associated with a tangible place and eventually had a direct effect on its physicality by
shaping it according to what was agreed upon through discussion; a physical location generated an intangible
discourse, which affected tangible space. The complex mutual relation between social-intangible and spatial-
tangible overlapping and interfering with each other is what shapes the reality of cities (Lefebvre 1974). In
this context, the relation between the socio-cultural intangible capital and its impact on contemporary service
economy is described by Zukin (1996) as a symbolic economy referring to representational agents with an
allegorical component beyond the physical layer of spatial reality, where cultural meanings construct social
identities through the built environment.
As mentioned above, the duality between the phenomenological component of places (social, symbolic,
discursive, intangible) and the Euclidean reality of space (tangible physical elements) has been studied for
many years and in different disciplines under a common topic: interaction between both. If these approaches
to urban reality based on relations and phenomena were extrapolated to the contemporary era, where some of
these processes take place on a virtual level, a virtual space generated from a socio-discursive fabric would
be dened. Starting with Castells (2004) at the beginning of the new millennium and the digital era, the
study of cities conceptualized as a set of human practices from an ethnographic perspective is rooted in Di
Masso and Dixon’s (2015) concept of “place-assemblage” as a methodological approach, acknowledging the
interconnectedness and interdependence of physical space as a continuum, and individual human practices,
discourses and interactions taking place on it. More in detail, Saker and Evans (2016) explore how not only
is online data a consequence of the use of space, but in many cases it also inuences users’ own spatial
experience by generating new interactions; they introduce the term “phoneur” to refer to users of urban space,
who use it simultaneously in the physical and virtual realms. Similarly, Boyd and Ellison (2007) discuss how
location-based social networks (LBSNs) and web services are re-shaping ofine social geography” (Boyd &
Ellison, 2007, p. 224). Just as networks allow contact between people not sharing a common physical space,
they sometimes alter the way users act on it. For instance, social media may induce a sense of familiarity or
knowledge of a new space, or alter people’s path in the city to create an online practice (Humphreys, 2010,
With the birth of data-driven social relations and spatial behaviors, scholars acknowledge the complexity of
the current approach to space on several levels of tangibility. The term hybrid space denes a combination of
physical and virtual spaces in such a way that the activity in one involves a consequence in the other (Sutko
and De Souza e Silva, 2011; De Lange and De Waal, 2013; Saker and Evans, 2016), and therefore both become
mediators of each other (Campbell and Ling, 2009; Gordon, Baldwin-Philippi and Balestra, 2013; Martin,
2014; Saker and Evans, 2016). Saker and Evans (2016) conclude from previous research that the ubiquity
of connectivity with mobile connections (Okazaki & Mendez 2013), perceptual contact with social ties (Frith
2014), the continual potential of social accessibility to create a continual co-presence (Ling & Horst 2011)
and the possibility of instant interactivity with other users (Campbell & Kwak 2011) are the features of mobile
web use that create the possibility and affordance of a transformed experience of place when using mobile
media” (Saker & Evans 2016, p. 1171).
Thus, the concept of “gamication of space” (Jin et al. 2016; Perry 2016; Saker & Evans 2016) emerges to
dene space as an element within some data platforms, apps, and LBSNs. When physical space is linked to an
app, i.e. when access to virtual content is only available from a specic physical location, the use of space may
be subject to the use of the app (Jin et al. 2016; Saker & Evans 2016); consequently, the app is the generator of
a physical spatial practice. There are diverse motivations behind gamication, such as “bragging or showing-
off, self-promotion, making inside jokes, recording places as a memory aid, or receiving points or rewards for
particular habits or actions” (Schwartz & Halegoua 2014, p. 4).
In this context, the potentials of location-based data services in the eld of research on cities rely on (1) their
capacity of bringing a symbolic intangible dimension to a measurable form and (2) their nature as drivers of
unprecedented socio-spatial practices.
General approach to crowd-sourced locative data platforms
During the last decade and particularly since 2008, digitalization and the everyday use of technologies have
deeply inuenced individuals’ daily behaviors and routines. The study of these new contemporary everyday
practices offers unprecedented potential to observe urban life (Lazzarini & López Baeza 2017), thus enriching
the study of cities with new meanings in new intangible dimensions, which are now available for scrutiny (Sui
and Goodchild, 2011; Silva et al., 2014). These are able not only to contribute to the in-depth description of
space and spatial practices, but also to determine crucial factors of the urban environment (Cranshaw et al.
What is currently the best way to study the dynamics of a city? How can we learn about the routines of their
citizens, their movement patterns, their points of interest, and their cultural and economic aspects?” (Silva et
al. 2014, p. 45)
Thanks to the data mining of spatial data resources, this virtual information can be accessed for analysis to
understand how spaces function under a wider perspective. In other words, layers of social, discursive and
symbolic information would transcend a reality with a major virtual element. In this regard, Kozinets (2002)
denes the term “netnography” to refer to the wide scope of research based on the traces of social practices
that take place in the context of internet-based technologies.
Cities have become very powerful generators of information, which remains stored in immaterial layers of
data overlapping physical places. Location-based data services can be used to extract such information and
facilitate the understanding of the urban and social dynamics found in them by further analysis (Cerrone et al.
2018) and research methodologies across several disciplines, namely social sciences, computational methods,
and urban studies.
A major source of location-based data, social networks are dened as online platforms where users produce
content that they share publicly and at the same time can access content published by other users (Manovich
2009). Since data are produced by users, social networks fall into the category of crowd-sourced data platforms.
Their deployment is linked to the term Web 2.0, coined by Tim O’Reilly in the mid-2000s (Manovich 2009)
to refer to websites characterized by user-generated content, long tail, network as platform, folksonomy,
syndication and mass collaboration” (Manovich 2009, p. 1). After the birth of Web 2.0 and social networks,
a shift in online content access takes place: from content which one accesses to receive information – one-
directionally on traditional websites – to content which one generates and shares with other users resulting in a
network of interaction. Silva et al. (2014) talk about participatory sensing referring to this type of phenomena,
in which users voluntarily get involved in the daily use and production of content linked to contextual
information in different formats – text, images, etc. – to be publicly shared (Silva et al. 2014), and being aware
of the entire process.
Location-based social networks are those generally used on mobile devices and able to integrate a GPS location
with geo-coordinates within the information shared by users. Access to these information packages is possible
by mining the APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), from which several data elds associated with
each post or message – including location – can be downloaded. In this way, it is possible to visualize, analyze,
and operate spatially with information uploaded to an LBSN. Mining LBSNs is a crucial step for general data
analysis (Chen, Härdle and Unwin, 2008; Agryzkov et al., 2015), which is presented as a complementary or
alternative method to traditional research on mobility, activity patterns, urban complexity, social preferences,
or perception (Kheiri, Karimipour and Forghani, 2015). Eventually, it can also be used to dene guidelines
for further urban design interventions (Corinna, Riccardo and Ludovica, 2014; Cerrone, Lehtovouri and Pau,
What do we learn about users from the growing number of views of their physical activity on social media?
What are the intentions, conditions, and situations under which these digital traces are produced and
understood? How do these geocoded data inform our understanding of mobility, the meaning of physical
place, and identity performance that occurs via location-based social media?(Schwartz & Halegoua 2014,
p. 2)
In this context, crowd-sourced spatial data represent a fundamental eld of research for the visualization
and analysis of spatial and temporal patterns and social dynamics of cities at different scales (Hochman &
Manovich 2013). In addition, due to the popularization of these services among smartphone users, the range
of the data samples obtained is innitely wider in terms of number, spatial extent, and temporal framework
than any other methodological approach developed so far, while maintaining a granular resolution (Kheiri,
Karimipour and Forghani, 2015) and being accessible remotely (Manca et al. 2017). This is precisely the
denition of crowd-sourced big data according to Jiang et al. (2016): a large amount of data obtained from
application users who share info from their devices, with an individual level denition for each point in time
and space, and other associated data (Schwartz and Halegoua, 2014; Jiang et al., 2016); acknowledging a
major potential in the possibility of operating on a granular scale, and a largescale simultaneously (Luo et al.
2016). Thus, location-based services in the eld of urban planning aim to offer researchers a representative
sample of what happens in physical reality (Agryzkov et al., 2015), as well as to publicize the meta-dynamics
or urban social processes beyond the physical form of cities (Cerrone 2016).
On the content
Considering that the virtual realm is an agent with potential to drive and store social-spatial intangible layers
of urban space, further study is needed to gain a wider understanding about cities by researching these joint
layers of information together with their spatial form: hybrid spaces considered as a set of unique experiences,
signications and perceptions constituting complex systems with a phenomenological approach (Wong 2013;
Saker & Evans 2016). Thus, spatial conguration of places cannot be considered the only driver of life in
the city, as online interactions take a role in the process that must be acknowledged. Unprecedented tools,
methods, techniques and trans-disciplinary perspectives are currently being tested and deployed in this new
eld of research.
However, the novelty of this research eld and the enormous creative and evolutionary capacity of data
platforms constitute a challenge in the sense that no study can be considered ultimate or decisive. Since
the starting date of the present work (2015), virtually all of the data sources considered initially underwent
major modications – Instagram closed access to GPS locations in June 2015, Panoramio was shut down in
November 2017, Foursquare released Swarm in August 2017 and redened its entire structure, and Twitter
started losing users dramatically in 2018. Moreover, general data protection regulations such as the GDPR
came into force in May 2018, thus raising awareness in the general public on privacy and data usage. The
validity, segmentation and ethics of analytic methods using crowd-sourced data have also been questioned on
several occasions. In the near future, many of these services will be modied, affecting the methods employed
and challenging possibilities of research on their content and performance.
Therefore, this thesis aims to be an initial study that provides a multidisciplinary discourse to support further
studies on why and how to approach research on cities, acknowledging their multiple and contemporary
dimensions, and testing innovative methods and perspectives to exploit these resources. The work presented
in this thesis encompasses a variety of papers under the umbrella of crowd-sourced data to study cities and
developed under four major topics: Theory, Computational Methods, Observational Methods, and Education.
Socio-spatial Theory Computational Methods Observational Methods Education
Introduction: Shaping space
Revisiting the spatial
denition of neighborhood
boundaries: LBSN-based
Functional Clusters
versus Administrative
La producción de identidad de
los nuevos desarrollos urbanos
a través del place-based social
big data: los crecimientos
del área metropolitana de
Madrid durante la burbuja
inmobiliaria (1990-2012)
Sobre la percepción:
Etiquetado de material gráco
en talleres compartidos por
Arquitectura y Sociología del
Optional and necessary
activities: Operationalising
Jan Gehl’s analysis of urban
space with Foursquare data
Mobility solutions for
cruise passenger transfer:
An exploration of scenarios
using agent-based simulation
Percepción y uso social de
una transformación urbana a
través del social media: las
setas gigantes de la calle San
Workshop Report – Urban
meta-morphology lab Alicante
Conclusion: Place-making
Comparing two methods for
urban complexity calculations
using the Shannon-Wiener
Use of applications with
georeferenced contacts ‘dating
apps’ to identify creative areas
Table 1. Summary of content. Source: Author.
Texts developed under the topic of Socio-spatial Theory set the theoretical background upon which the other
contributions are based. As mentioned above, this thesis rests on the dualism between the spatial conguration
of cities and the human layers that overlap them. More specically, Introduction and Conclusions establish
a theoretical setting while “Optional and necessary activities: Operationalising Jan Gehl’s analysis of urban
space with Foursquare data” focuses on human actions understood as what people do in cities. This last paper
conceptualizes a theoretical approach according to which traditional research on activities, i.e. Jan Gehl’s
methods, are operationalized to (1) apply them not only to public space but to cities as a whole, (2) allow
replication, and (3) test further spatial computations.
As for the aforementioned spatial computations, contributions developed under the topic Computational Methods
constitute a set of methodologies using tools to extract data by developing initial sources further. These papers
are based on comparative approaches, as the methods developed are too recent. The paper “Comparing two
methods for urban complexity calculations using the Shannon-Wiener index” tests two different approaches to
calculate an index to measure how complex urban spaces are, understanding complexity as a unit of entropy
that considers the number of places where activities can take place, and the number of types of activities to be
hosted, simultaneously. Secondly, “Revisiting the spatial denition of neighborhood boundaries: LBSN-based
Functional Clusters versus Administrative Neighborhoods” proposes a methodological approach in which a
spatial cluster calculation is utilized to characterize urban areas, and consequently dene boundaries between
them. The generation of these new areas based on activity is compared with the administrative boundaries
of neighborhoods in the city. Finally, “Mobility solutions for cruise passenger transfer: An exploration of
scenarios using agent-based simulation models” utilizes crowd-sourced data to feed agent-based models
(ABMs) which are used to simulate and compare different urban scenarios from the process-chain perspective
(a general process made up of smaller actions affecting each other) and relational network theory (a system
composed of individual elements affecting others).
Articles under the topic Observational Methods also present novel methodologies based on the study of
specic social phenomena utilizing crowd-sourced data as a qualitative source of information. “Percepción y
uso social de una transformación urbana. El caso de la calle de las Setas” (The Mushrooms’ Lesson: Instagram
as a tool to evaluate user’s perception of urban transformations) delves into the social practices driven by a
design intervention on a small street segment, focusing on self-representation and representation of space
through photographs posted on social media. “La producción de identidad de los nuevos desarrollos urbanos
a través del place-based social big data: los crecimientos del área metropolitana de Madrid durante la burbuja
inmobiliaria (1990-2012)” (Identity production in new urban development areas through place-based social
big data: urban growth in the metropolitan area of Madrid during the real-estate housing bubble) studies
individuals’ urban social identity and the key role of places in generating this identity through their symbolic
values. In this context, the article (1) studies how urban areas developed during the Spanish housing bubble
believed to be related to fast and serialized urbanization can inuence the generation of identity and
(2) explores new potential contemporary symbolic values associated with recently developed urban spaces.
Finally, “Use of applications with georeferenced contacts ‘dating apps’ to identify creative areas” studies
the correspondence between gentried areas and areas with high activity levels on homosexual dating apps,
relating this phenomenon to the concept of creative capital.
The authors of the contributions presented above share a strong interest not only in shedding light on and
producing new knowledge, but also in sharing and spreading it. The close cooperation with them has allowed
to publicly present most of the methods and theoretical approaches addressed in this work, in academic
environments as well as for educational purposes, in order to transfer this knowledge to future urban experts.
Under the Education topic, the contribution “Sobre la percepción: Etiquetado de material gráco en talleres
compartidos por Arquitectura y Sociología del Derecho” (Image tagging and gearing resources applied to
students’ graphic materials: Learning techniques in pursuit of inclusiveness for urban and landscape design) was
developed to document an evaluation process in which students produced metadata later utilized to establish
similarities between work produced by them during the exercise, and reference materials they received at the
beginning of the course. Finally, “Workshop Report – Urban meta-morphology lab Alicante” compiles work
developed by students of a workshop on social media data to observe and characterize social dynamics in
urban space. This last contribution is included as a small sample of the many excellent works developed by
students attending workshop sessions held in Europe and Asia during the years this thesis was developed.
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... From Tripadvisor, the hotel, restaurant, and attractions data for the Alessandria district were taken, and were provided with qualitative (rating, ranking, number of reviews) and quantitative (the content of reviews, categories) attributes, and geolocated as punctual geometries through WGS84 coordinates. In addition, referring to some experiments in the urban analysis [51,52] that work on Location-Based Social Media (LBSM) data to investigate the perception and use of public spaces of both local citizens and temporary communities, Instagram, Foursquare, and Flickr were included as sources. ...
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The design of urban public open spaces plays a key role in the development of micro-scale reactions to global phenomena (pandemic, climate change, etc.) that are currently reshaping the human habitat. Their transformability and healthy influence on the urban environment make them strategic nodes for acupunctural regeneration with systemic effects. Several methods, models, and indicators have been developed to face the complexity of these spaces, made up of tangible and intangible layers; however, there is a gap between theoretical investigation and the need for public administrations to devise feasible solutions, strategies, and guidelines. The paper focuses on this mediation, presenting, as a case study, an adopted methodology and the first results achieved according to guidelines for the regeneration of the system of squares in the historical center of Alessandria (Piedmont, Italy). In this case, a multidisciplinary approach and a Multi-Criteria Analysis (MCA) method, supported by geospatial analysis and GIS technology, have been employed to work as mediators for a participatory process which will involve public administration, stakeholders, experts, and researchers. The paper presents an overview of the workflow, with a focus on the first set of thematic indicators and an open conclusion. It will explain how they have been defined, integrated, and turned into a dialogic tool, with the aim of laying the foundation for the next stage of involvement by the public administration and stakeholders. Specific attention will be paid to the key role of vegetational and environmental parameters, which represents the requalification strategy’s backbone, for both local and systemic scales.
... New technology is creating interactions among two different environments; (1) the physical element with a local identity, and (2) the virtual reality in the digital realm (Albeera, 2019). As the use 130 of digital networks becomes an essential part of everyday life, a new digital layer is added to the existing urban landscape (López Baeza, 2021). In the digital age of social interaction happening on social media, knowing that we can use our smartphones to do shopping, order food, or read books, how can we be sure that public spaces will still be attractive? ...
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What is the relation between digital technologies and public spaces? Are they capable of making each other successful, or is one driving the decline of the other? The path towards the digitalization of social interaction that came along with the digital revolution at the end of the 20th century does not necessarily have a beneficial consequence for urban public space, as social interaction no longer needs the support of, or to support (physical) public spaces. In other words, the digitalization of social interaction is driving the detachment of contemporary society from the use of their traditional urban public spaces. Consequently, new tools and technologies are being implemented in a number of public spaces in several cities, in order to align contemporary (digital) resources to the needs and wants of contemporary societies. This contribution offers a review of several developments that were implemented in a number of public spaces during the “digital age”. This review is performed by presenting a comprehensive framework of public space in the digital age, with a specific focus on key features that have been affected by digitalization: social interaction, political participation, and social activities. Keywords: Public space, digital era, digitalization, urban space.
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Purpose – In the context of digital spatial analysis and modeling urban space and processes, this article presents a methodology to update and operationalize Jan Gehl’s traditional observations on activities people engage in public urban space. We aim to show how shared (big) data can help to understand contemporary urban processes and retool urban planning and management for the common good. Design/methodology/approach – The article details how newly computed analyses, such as Shannon-Wiener Index of complexity of activities as well as gravity and centrality indexes, can be implemented to study the experiential qualities of public spaces and development opportunities of urban spaces and neighborhoods. The proposed method is tested in the city of Turku in Finland, where an interactive interface called Turku Open Platform is used by developers and stakeholders, integrating these analytics to decision- making and public discussions. Originality/value – The so-called human behavior or city social dynamics or practices are not exclusively determined by the morphology of the place or its function, but they have an anthropological basis. Social needs (need for security, for openness, of play, for isolation and encounter, etc.) are anthropological requirements generated and developed socially. In this context, structure, function and form are not sufficient for the generation of social relations, but they can only favor it. By measuring these social needs stored in online social media servers, a new layer of the city is defined and thus, it is available for analysis and eventually intervention. This whole process constitutes the city as a hybrid space that can only be fully comprehended by analyzing the layers of information beyond the spatial form. A great part of this information is registered in online servers, and it is rated and reviewed by apps and social media users. This could be understood as a sample of human behavior or social dynamics and practices to which one can access by mining API data. Practical implications – Re-organising both location-based social media data, statistical sources and configurational spatial analysis, the presented method unearths emerging activity patterns across scales from local to regional, shifting focus from the traditional functional analysis of urban space towards understanding activities and, thus, the human perspective of use, practices and new agencies.
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Social media outlets such as Twitter constitute valuable data sources for understanding human activities in the virtual world from a geographic perspective. This paper examines spatial distribution of tweets and densities within cities. The cities refer to natural cities that are automatically aggregated from a country’s small street blocks, so called city blocks. We adopted street blocks (rather than census tracts) as the basic geographic units and topological center (rather than geometric center) in order to assess how tweets and densities vary from the center to the peripheral border. We found that, within a city from the center to the periphery, the tweets first increase and then decrease, while the densities decrease in general. These increases and decreases fluctuate dramatically, and differ significantly from those if census tracts are used as the basic geographic units. We also found that the decrease of densities from the center to the periphery is less significant, and even disappears, if an arbitrarily defined city border is adopted. These findings prove that natural cities and their topological centers are better than their counterparts (conventionally defined cities and city centers) for geographic research. Based on this study, we believe that tweet densities can be a good surrogate of population densities. If this belief is proved to be true, social media data could help solve the dispute surrounding exponential or power function of urban population density. KEYWORDS: Big data, natural cities, street blocks, urban density, topological distance
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In recent years, there has been a rapid growth of location-based social networking services, such as Foursquare and Facebook, which have attracted an increasing number of users and greatly enriched their urban experience. Location-based social network data, as a new travel demand data source, seems to be an alternative or complement to survey data in the study of mobility behavior and activity analysis because of its relatively high access and low cost. In this paper, three OD estimation models have been utilized in order to investigate their relative performance when using Location-Based Social Networking (LBSN) data. For this, the Foursquare LBSN data was used to analyze the intra-urban movement behavioral patterns for the study area, Manhattan, the most densely populated of the five boroughs of New York city. The outputs of models are evaluated using real observations based on different criterions including distance distribution, destination travel constraints. The results demonstrate the promising potential of using LBSN data for urban travel demand analysis and monitoring.
Space, place and territory are concepts that lie at the core of geography and urban planning, environmental studies and sociology. Although space, place and territory are indeed polysemic and polemic, they have particular characteristics that distinguish them from each other. They are interdependent but not interchangeable, and the differences between them explain how we simultaneously perceive, conceive and design multiple spatialities. After drawing the conceptual framework of space, place and territory, the book initially explores how we sense space in the most visceral ways, and how the overlay of meanings attached to the sensorial characteristics of space change the way we perceive it - smell, spatial experiences using electroence phalography, and the changing meaning of darkness are discussed. The book continues exploring cartographic mapping not as a final outcome, but rather as an epistemological tool, an instrument of inquiry. It follows on how particular ideas of space, place and territory are embedded in specific urban proposals, from Brasília to the Berlin Wall, airports and infiltration of digital technologies in our daily life. The book concludes by focusing on spatial practices that challenge the status quo of how we perceive and understand urban spaces, from famous artists to anonymous interventions by traceurs and hackers of urban technologies. Combining space, place and territory as distinctive but interdependent concepts into an epistemological matrix may help us to understand contemporary phenomena and live them critically.
Foursquare is a location-based social network (LBSN) that combines gaming elements with features conventionally associated with social networking sites (SNSs). Following two qualitative studies, this article sets out to explore what impact this overlaying of physical environments with play has on everyday life and experiences of space and place. Drawing on early understandings of play, alongside the flâneur and ‘phoneur’ as respective methods for conceptualizing play in the context of mobility and urbanity, this article examines whether the suggested division between play and ordinary life is challenged by Foursquare, and if so, how this reframing of play is experienced. Second, this article investigates what effect this LBSN has on mobility choices and spatial relationships. Finally, the novel concept of the ‘phoneur’ is posited as a way of understanding how pervasive play through LBSNs acts as a mediating influence on the experience of space and place.
'The Network Society stimulates the reader to think about the network society in an innovative way. Because of its analytical aims and a well-balanced presentation of empirical findings and theoretical insights coming from a remarkable variety of authors, this is a book that might become a model for collaborative research in the years to come, as well as an invaluable reference for teaching and research on networking as an organizational form.' - International Sociology - Review of Books.
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The research aims at exploring a methodology for the use of digital social media (DSM) to study and influence people’s behaviors within the public realm of an historic city center. Potentialities and limitations, created by the use of digital social media for urban analysis and planning, are spotted regarding the specific conditions of an historic city center with the goal of creating a more livable public realm. The research aims at drafting a general methodology both in data mining both in public places promotion and enhancement, through information and digital connection, referring to the specific case of historic city centers. The research considers the case study of Urbino, in the Marche region (Italy), and carries on different analyses and proposals of intervention based on digital social media.
Online social platform, such as Wikipedia and Foursquare, has been increasingly exploded due to not only various useful services provided but also social gaming mechanisms that can keep users actively engaged. For example, users are awarded ”virtual goods” like badges and points when they contribute to the community in the network by voluntarily sharing ideas and other information. In this paper, we aim to examine the effectiveness of a social gamification mechanism, named user scores, designed in Foursquare which is one of most popular location-based social networks. A user’s score in Foursquare is an aggregate measure based on recent check-in activities of the user, which reflects a snapshot summary of the user’s temporal and spatial behaviors. Whenever a user checks in to a venue, a list of scores of the user’s friends are visible to the user via a ”leaderboard” which ranks these users’ scores in a descending order. Given a pair of friends who participate in a score competition in such a gimification mechanism, we identify if one user’s scores have significant influence on the other user’s scores by utilizing the Granger Causality Test. To understand what types of users and what types of friends tend to participate in the score competition (i.e., their check-ins are more likely driven by such a gamification mechanism), we extract users’ features (e.g. user’s degree) as well as the features of pairs of friends (e.g., number of common friends, score similarity and ranking difference) to examine whether these features have correlations with those pairs of users who are identified as being involved in the score game. The identified influence on user scores has the important implication on applications including friend and venue recommendations in location-based social networks.
The Connected City explores how thinking about networks helps make sense of modern cities: What they are, how they work, and where they are headed. Cities and urban life can be examined as networks, and these urban networks can be examined at many different levels. The book focuses on three levels of urban networks: Micro, meso, and macro. These levels build upon one another, and require distinctive analytical approaches that make it possible to consider different types of questions. at one extreme, micro-urban networks focus on the networks that exist within cities, like the social relationships among neighbors that generate a sense of community and belonging. at the opposite extreme, macro-urban networks focus on networks between cities, like the web of nonstop airline flights that make face-to-face business meetings possible. This book contains three major sections organized by the level of analysis and scale of network. Throughout these sections, when a new methodological concept is introduced, a separate ‘method note’ provides a brief and accessible introduction to the practical issues of using networks in research. What makes this book unique is that it synthesizes the insights and tools of the multiple scales of urban networks, and integrates the theory and method of network analysis.
Characterizing human mobility patterns is essential for understanding human behaviors and the interactions with socioeconomic and natural environment. With the continuing advancement of location and Web 2.0 technologies, location-based social media (LBSM) have been gaining widespread popularity in the past few years. With an access to locations of users, profiles and the contents of the social media posts, the LBSM data provided a novel modality of data source for human mobility study. By exploiting the explicit location footprints and mining the latent demographic information implied in the LBSM data, the purpose of this paper is to investigate the spatiotemporal characteristics of human mobility with a particular focus on the impact of demography. We first collect geo-tagged Twitter feeds posted in the conterminous United States area, and organize the collection of feeds using the concept of space-time trajectory corresponding to each Twitter user. Commonly human mobility measures, including detected home and activity centers, are derived for each user trajectory. We then select a subset of Twitter users that have detected home locations in the city of Chicago as a case study, and apply name analysis to the names provided in user profiles to learn the implicit demographic information of Twitter users, including race/ethnicity, gender and age. Finally we explore the spatiotemporal distribution and mobility characteristics of Chicago Twitter users, and investigate the demographic impact by comparing the differences across three demographic dimensions (race/ethnicity, gender and age). We found that, although the human mobility measures of different demographic groups generally follow the generic laws (e.g., power law distribution), the demographic information, particular the race/ethnicity group, significantly affects the urban human mobility patterns.