Olympic Venue Tweets on CityDashboard

There’s a new, temporary panel on the London CityDashboard which shows Twitter activity at the London 2012 venues. The panel is using data from new Twitter collector tools in the Big Data Toolkit, which being developed by my colleague Steven James Gray as part of his PhD.

For each venue, the collectors count the number of Tweets in the last hour that have latitude/longitude information stamped on them, that are located within an area radiating around the centre of each stadium or arena. Unfortunately this excludes the majority of relevant tweets, as most mobile Twitter applications don’t include this information by default – stadium designs can also interfere with the accuracy of the GPS on mobile phones – when I was in the Velodrome for a test event, my iPhone was convinced I was in, ironically, Beijing, and nothing could be done to convince it otherwise.

Nonetheless, the tweets that the collectors do manage to capture still give an indication of how lively and busy each venue is. A collector covering the whole Olympic Park is also included – this includes the venues within the park and also the various promenades and green areas. Most people, before or after visiting the venue they have tickets for, are remaining in the wider park.

On the way we discovered an obscure Twitter bug: including a search radius that spreads across the Prime Meridian (0 degrees longitude) causes an error to appear from Twitter – fixing the centre of the search point on the Meridian itself works around this bug. Until we spotted the but, the Greenwich Park collector was always reporting zero, as the Meridian line goes through the park.

After the Olympics, we hope to reuse the collectors to give an indication of Twitter activity in certain key London hotspots, such as Shoreditch and Covent Garden. Potentially, we would be able to include a similar panel for the other seven UK cities on CityDashboard.

Over at the Big Data Toolkit blog, Steve talks in detail about the Twitter collectors.