The Livehoods Project: Utilizing Social Media to Understand the Dynamics of a City
International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media, p. 58, 2012
8 Pages Posted: 30 Oct 2012
Date Written: June 1, 2012
Studying the social dynamics of a city on a large scale has traditionally been a challenging endeavor, requiring long hours of observation and interviews, usually resulting in only a partial depiction of reality. At the same time, the boundaries of municipal organizational units, such as neighborhoods and districts, are largely statically defined by the city government and do not always reflect the character of life in these areas. To address both difficulties, we introduce a clustering model and research methodology for studying the structure and composition of a city based on the social media its residents generate. We use data from approximately 18 million check-ins collected from users of a location-based online social network. The resulting clusters, which we call Livehoods, are representations of the dynamic urban areas that comprise the city. We take an interdisciplinary approach to validating these clusters, interviewing 27 residents of Pittsburgh, PA, to see how their perceptions of the city project onto our findings there. Our results provide strong support for the discovered clusters, showing how Livehoods reveal the distinctly characterized areas of the city and the forces that shape them.
Keywords: Social media, foursquare, check-ins, urban design, smart cities, urban computing, location-based, geography, mobile computing, social computing, computer science
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