Geographic Information Science and Citizen Science

Thanks to invitations from UNIGIS and from Edinburgh Earth Observatory / AGI Scotland, I had an opportunity to reflect on how Geographic Information Science (GIScience) can contribute to citizen science, and what citizen science can contribute to GIScience. Despite the fact that it’s been 8 years since the term Volunteers Geographic Information (VGI) was coined, […]

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Crowdsourcing Urban Form and Function

We have just had published a new paper entitled: “Crowdsourcing Urban Form and Function” in International Journal of Geographical Information Science which showcases some of our recent work with respect to cities and how new sources of information can be used to study urban morphology at a variety of spatial and temporal scales. Below is the abstract for the paper: 

“Urban form and function have been studied extensively in urban planning and geographic information science. However, gaining a greater understanding of how they merge to define the urban morphology remains a substantial scientific challenge. Towards this goal, this paper addresses the opportunities presented by the emergence of crowdsourced data to gain novel insights into form and function in urban spaces. We are focusing in particular on information harvested from social media and other open-source and volunteered datasets (e.g. trajectory and OpenStreetMap data). These data provide a first-hand account of form and function from the people who define urban space through their activities. This novel bottom-up approach to study these concepts complements traditional urban studies work to provide a new lens for studying urban activity. By synthesizing recent advancements in the analysis of open-source data we provide a new typology for characterizing the role of crowdsourcing in the study of urban morphology. We illustrate this new perspective by showing how social media, trajectory, and traffic data can be analyzed to capture the evolving nature of a city’s form and function. While these crowd contributions may be explicit or implicit in nature, they are giving rise to an emerging research agenda for monitoring, analyzing and modeling form and function for urban design and analysis.”

This paper builds and extends considerably our prior work, with respect to crowdsourcing, volunteered and ambient geographic information. In the scope of this paper we use the term ‘urban form’ to refer to the aggregate of the physical shape of the city, its buildings, streets, and all other elements that make up the urban space. In essence, the geometry of the city. In contrast, we use the term ‘urban function’ to refer to the activities that are taking place within this space. To this end we contrast how crowdsourced data can related to more traditional sources of such information both explicitly and implicitly as shown in the table below. 

A typology of implicit and explicit form and function content

In addition, we also discuss in the paper how these new sources of data, which are often at finer resolutions than more authoritative data are allowing us to to customize the we we aggregate the data  at various geographical levels as shown below. Such aggregations can range from building footprints and addresses to street blocks (e.g. for density analysis), or street networks (e.g. for accessibility analysis). For large-scale urban analysis we can revert to the use of zonal geographies or grid systems.  
Aggregation methods for varied scales of built environment analysis

In the application section of the paper we highlight how we can extract implicit form and function from crowdsourced data. The image below for example, shows how we can take information from Twitter, and differentiate different neighborhoods over space and time.

Neighborhood map and topic modeling results showing the mixture of social functions in each area.
Finally in the paper, we outline an emerging research agenda related to the “persistent urban morphology concept” as shown below. Specifically how crowdsourcing is changing how we collect, analyze and model urban morphology. Moreover, how this new paradigm provides a new lens for studying the conceptualization of how cities operate, at much finer temporal, spatial, and social scales than we had been able to study so far.

The persistent urban morphology concept.

We hope you enjoy the paper.

Full Reference:  

Crooks, A.T., Pfoser, D., Jenkins, A., Croitoru, A., Stefanidis, A., Smith, D. A., Karagiorgou, S., Efentakis, A. and Lamprianidis, G. (2015), Crowdsourcing Urban Form and Function, International Journal of Geographical Information Science. DOI: 10.1080/13658816.2014.977905 (pdf)

 

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Crowdsourcing Urban Form and Function

We have just had published a new paper entitled: “Crowdsourcing Urban Form and Function” in International Journal of Geographical Information Science which showcases some of our recent work with respect to cities and how new sources of information can be used to study urban morphology at a variety of spatial and temporal scales. Below is the abstract for the paper: 

“Urban form and function have been studied extensively in urban planning and geographic information science. However, gaining a greater understanding of how they merge to define the urban morphology remains a substantial scientific challenge. Towards this goal, this paper addresses the opportunities presented by the emergence of crowdsourced data to gain novel insights into form and function in urban spaces. We are focusing in particular on information harvested from social media and other open-source and volunteered datasets (e.g. trajectory and OpenStreetMap data). These data provide a first-hand account of form and function from the people who define urban space through their activities. This novel bottom-up approach to study these concepts complements traditional urban studies work to provide a new lens for studying urban activity. By synthesizing recent advancements in the analysis of open-source data we provide a new typology for characterizing the role of crowdsourcing in the study of urban morphology. We illustrate this new perspective by showing how social media, trajectory, and traffic data can be analyzed to capture the evolving nature of a city’s form and function. While these crowd contributions may be explicit or implicit in nature, they are giving rise to an emerging research agenda for monitoring, analyzing and modeling form and function for urban design and analysis.”

This paper builds and extends considerably our prior work, with respect to crowdsourcing, volunteered and ambient geographic information. In the scope of this paper we use the term ‘urban form’ to refer to the aggregate of the physical shape of the city, its buildings, streets, and all other elements that make up the urban space. In essence, the geometry of the city. In contrast, we use the term ‘urban function’ to refer to the activities that are taking place within this space. To this end we contrast how crowdsourced data can related to more traditional sources of such information both explicitly and implicitly as shown in the table below. 

A typology of implicit and explicit form and function content

In addition, we also discuss in the paper how these new sources of data, which are often at finer resolutions than more authoritative data are allowing us to to customize the we we aggregate the data  at various geographical levels as shown below. Such aggregations can range from building footprints and addresses to street blocks (e.g. for density analysis), or street networks (e.g. for accessibility analysis). For large-scale urban analysis we can revert to the use of zonal geographies or grid systems.  
Aggregation methods for varied scales of built environment analysis

In the application section of the paper we highlight how we can extract implicit form and function from crowdsourced data. The image below for example, shows how we can take information from Twitter, and differentiate different neighborhoods over space and time.

Neighborhood map and topic modeling results showing the mixture of social functions in each area.
Finally in the paper, we outline an emerging research agenda related to the “persistent urban morphology concept” as shown below. Specifically how crowdsourcing is changing how we collect, analyze and model urban morphology. Moreover, how this new paradigm provides a new lens for studying the conceptualization of how cities operate, at much finer temporal, spatial, and social scales than we had been able to study so far.

The persistent urban morphology concept.

We hope you enjoy the paper.

Full Reference:  

Crooks, A.T., Pfoser, D., Jenkins, A., Croitoru, A., Stefanidis, A., Smith, D. A., Karagiorgou, S., Efentakis, A. and Lamprianidis, G. (2015), Crowdsourcing Urban Form and Function, International Journal of Geographical Information Science. DOI: 10.1080/13658816.2014.977905 (pdf)

 

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#Earthquake: Twitter as a Distributed Sensor System

Our work on using social media continues to develop and we have recently had a paper accepted in Transactions in GIS, entitled “#Earthquake: Twitter as a Distributed Sensor System“. Below we present our abstract and some of the results.
Social media feeds are rapidly emerging as a novel avenue for the contribution and dissemination of information that is often geographic. Their content often includes references to events occurring at, or affecting specific locations. Within this paper we analyze the spatial and temporal characteristics of the twitter feed activity responding to a 5.8 magnitude earthquake which occurred on the East Coast of the United States (US) on August 23, 2011. We argue that these feeds represent a hybrid form of a sensor system that allows for the identification and localization of the impact area of the event. By contrasting this to comparable content collected through the dedicated crowdsourcing ‘Did You Feel It?’ (DYFI) website of the US Geological Survey we assess the potential of the use of harvested social media content for event monitoring. The experiments support the notion that people act as sensors to give us comparable results in a timely manner, and can complement other sources of data to enhance our situational awareness and improve our understanding and response to such events.

The movie below show geolocated tweets with references to the earthquake through keyword (earthquake or earth and quake) and hashtag search (#earthquake or #quake) for the first hour after the earthquake.

The following images give a glimpse at some of our analysis.

Response pattern as function of distance from epicenter for the first 400 seconds after the earthquake. At the top we see a plot of (reaction time, distance) of all tweets during that period. At the bottom we show the histogram of the number of tweets as a function of distance.
Locations of the 40 tweets in the shaded area of the figure above overlaid over the USGS CDI scale map. Tweet locations are marked as green circles. Color-coding in the graph is ranging from red (high perceived intensity) to yellow (lower perceived intensity). The dashed line shows a distance of approximately 950 km (8.5 degrees of angular distance) from the epicenter.

The movie below gives you an idea of some of the tweet content:

Full reference to this paper is:

Crooks, A. T.,  Croitoru, A.,  Stefanidis, A. and Radzikowski, J. (acepted) “#Earthquake: Twitter as a Distributed Sensor System” Transactions in GIS.

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#Earthquake: Twitter as a Distributed Sensor System

Our work on using social media continues to develop and we have recently had a paper accepted in Transactions in GIS, entitled “#Earthquake: Twitter as a Distributed Sensor System“. Below we present our abstract and some of the results.
Social media feeds are rapidly emerging as a novel avenue for the contribution and dissemination of information that is often geographic. Their content often includes references to events occurring at, or affecting specific locations. Within this paper we analyze the spatial and temporal characteristics of the twitter feed activity responding to a 5.8 magnitude earthquake which occurred on the East Coast of the United States (US) on August 23, 2011. We argue that these feeds represent a hybrid form of a sensor system that allows for the identification and localization of the impact area of the event. By contrasting this to comparable content collected through the dedicated crowdsourcing ‘Did You Feel It?’ (DYFI) website of the US Geological Survey we assess the potential of the use of harvested social media content for event monitoring. The experiments support the notion that people act as sensors to give us comparable results in a timely manner, and can complement other sources of data to enhance our situational awareness and improve our understanding and response to such events.

The movie below show geolocated tweets with references to the earthquake through keyword (earthquake or earth and quake) and hashtag search (#earthquake or #quake) for the first hour after the earthquake.

The following images give a glimpse at some of our analysis.

Response pattern as function of distance from epicenter for the first 400 seconds after the earthquake. At the top we see a plot of (reaction time, distance) of all tweets during that period. At the bottom we show the histogram of the number of tweets as a function of distance.
Locations of the 40 tweets in the shaded area of the figure above overlaid over the USGS CDI scale map. Tweet locations are marked as green circles. Color-coding in the graph is ranging from red (high perceived intensity) to yellow (lower perceived intensity). The dashed line shows a distance of approximately 950 km (8.5 degrees of angular distance) from the epicenter.

The movie below gives you an idea of some of the tweet content:

Full reference to this paper is:

Crooks, A. T.,  Croitoru, A.,  Stefanidis, A. and Radzikowski, J. (acepted) “#Earthquake: Twitter as a Distributed Sensor System” Transactions in GIS.

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Harvesting ambient geospatial information from social media feeds

A paper I  recently co-authored with Anthony Stefanidis and Jacek Radzikowski from George Mason University entitled “Harvesting ambient geospatial information from social media feeds” is now available in  GeoJournal.   The abstract …

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Harvesting ambient geospatial information from social media feeds

A paper I  recently co-authored with Anthony Stefanidis and Jacek Radzikowski from George Mason University entitled “Harvesting ambient geospatial information from social media feeds” is now available in  GeoJournal.   The abstract …

Continue reading »