Special Issue "Understanding Human-Urban Environment Interactions through Geolocated Social Media Data"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Geography and Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 1 July 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Pablo Marti
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Building and Urban Planning, University of Alicante, 03690 San Vicente del Raspeig, Alicante, Spain
Interests: urban design; urban transformation; public space; urban growth; location-based social media; socio-spatial analytics
Dr. Leticia Serrano-Estrada
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Building and Urban Planning, University of Alicante, 03690 San Vicente del Raspeig, Alicante, Spain
Interests: urban design; public space; socio-spatial analytics; location-based social media; human environment; human perception

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

While geolocation is the feature that allows one to relate human activity to urban places, social media enables individuals to virtually interact and share content about their whereabouts and activities in city spaces. Consequently, data from location-based social networks (LBSN) have raised and provided answers to interesting research questions related to urban and human dynamics as they bridge digital and real behavior in the use of city spaces.

Indeed, it has been over a decade since geolocated social media data first gained popularity among researchers as a source for understanding and assessing phenomena that characterizes urban reality. Furthermore, a wide range of scientific methods have sought to develop tools and strategies to better inform decisions for shaping urban environments that will promote the wellbeing of future generations, guaranteeing their sustainable growth and development.

This Special Issue aims to bring together research that contributes to this field of knowledge and advances the theoretical and empirical understanding of urban phenomena through LBSN sources. It welcomes contributions whose objectives are aligned with the following research scopes:

  • Aim to define novel methods and applications to approach city phenomena through social media sources;
  • Aim to provide up-to-date state of the art of the application of these sources to the study of city phenomena;
  • Aim to (critically) examine current limitations in the use of geolocated social media data for the study of the city and possible ways to overcome them;
  • Seek novel approaches to understand the perceptual aspects of the urban environment through LBNS sources;
  • Aim to monitor changes in the urban environment by studying phenomena at different points in time;
  • Aim to monitor urban transformation pre and post conditions through social media data;
  • Seek new methods to approach urban reality using LBSN sources in contrast to traditional ones;
  • Aim to characterize human–urban environment interactions through a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods;
  • Aim to revisit traditional urban theories through social media-based studies;
  • Aim to define urban design-oriented strategies to ensure the sustainable development of cities.

Prof. Pablo Marti
Dr. Leticia Serrano-Estrada
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Urban activities
  • Urban sustainability
  • Social sustainability
  • Human perception of the urban environment
  • Social use of the urban space
  • Socio-spatiotemporal dynamics
  • Urban mobility
  • Monitoring urban dynamics
  • Geolocated social media
  • Location-based social networks

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Implementing Gehl’s Theory to Study Urban Space. The Case of Monotowns
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5105; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13095105 - 02 May 2021
Viewed by 286
Abstract
The paper presents a method to operationalize Jan Gehl’s questions for public space into metrics to map Russian monotowns’ urban life in 2017. With the use of social media data, it becomes possible to scale Gehl’s approach from the survey of small urban [...] Read more.
The paper presents a method to operationalize Jan Gehl’s questions for public space into metrics to map Russian monotowns’ urban life in 2017. With the use of social media data, it becomes possible to scale Gehl’s approach from the survey of small urban areas to the analysis of entire cities while maintaining the human scale’s resolution. When underperforming public spaces are detected, we propose a matrix for urban design interventions using Jane Jacobs’ typologies for good city life. Furthermore, this method was deployed to improve the conditions of public spaces in Russian monotowns through a series of architectural briefs for design competitions and urban design guidelines for local administrations. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Evaluating Cultural Impact in Discursive Space through Digital Footprints
Sustainability 2021, 13(7), 4043; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13074043 - 06 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 457
Abstract
The research presented in this paper describes an evaluation of the impact of spatial interventions in public spaces, measured by social media data. This contribution aims at observing the way a spatial intervention in an urban location can affect what people talk about [...] Read more.
The research presented in this paper describes an evaluation of the impact of spatial interventions in public spaces, measured by social media data. This contribution aims at observing the way a spatial intervention in an urban location can affect what people talk about on social media. The test site for our research is Domplatz in the center of Hamburg, Germany. In recent years, several actions have taken place there, intending to attract social activity and spotlight the square as a landmark of cultural discourse in the city of Hamburg. To evaluate the impact of this strategy, textual data from the social networks Twitter and Instagram (i.e., tweets and image captions) are collected and analyzed using Natural Language Processing intelligence. These analyses identify and track the cultural topic or “people talking about culture” in the city of Hamburg. We observe the evolution of the cultural topic, and its potential correspondence in levels of activity, with certain intervention actions carried out in Domplatz. Two analytic methods of topic clustering and tracking are tested. The results show a successful topic identification and tracking with both methods, the second one being more accurate. This means that it is possible to isolate and observe the evolution of the city’s cultural discourse using NLP. However, it is shown that the effects of spatial interventions in our small test square have a limited local scale, rather than a city-wide relevance. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Spatial Distribution and Influencing Factors of Chinese Time-Honored Catering Brands in the Five Northwestern Provinces
Sustainability 2021, 13(7), 3755; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13073755 - 28 Mar 2021
Viewed by 463
Abstract
The Chinese Time-honored Catering Brands (CTCBs) in the five northwestern provinces are the accumulation of culture in the northwest of China and have precious value. Their formation and development process have their own characteristics and rules. In order to clarify the spatial distribution [...] Read more.
The Chinese Time-honored Catering Brands (CTCBs) in the five northwestern provinces are the accumulation of culture in the northwest of China and have precious value. Their formation and development process have their own characteristics and rules. In order to clarify the spatial distribution characteristics and influencing factors of CTCBs in these provinces, this study uses geolocated social media data (the data of the CTCBs’ directory, location, and per capita consumption level), and applies statistical analysis, kernel density analysis, standard deviational ellipse, and buffer analysis to analyze the spatial distribution characteristics and influencing factors of CTCBs in the five northwestern provinces. The results show that: (1) the spatial development intensity of CTCBs is relatively strong in their original place, and their spatial distribution is uneven. The overall distribution is in the northwest-southeast direction, with strong agglomeration, and tends to be scattered in the periphery of the agglomeration area. There are some areas with higher concentrations distributed in the form of patches. (2) The number and spatial distribution of old brands with different grades and tastes have different characteristics. (3) The spatial distribution pattern of CTCBs is formed under a variety of factors, such as historical and traditional culture, regional traffic conditions and urban development patterns, etc. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Use-Related and Socio-Demographic Variations in Urban Green Space Preferences
Sustainability 2021, 13(6), 3461; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13063461 - 20 Mar 2021
Viewed by 435
Abstract
This paper explores use-related and socio-demographic variations in the valuation of urban green space (UGS) characteristics in the Brussels Capital Region (BCR), lending insights into the valuation of the cultural ecosystem services provided by UGS. Mismatches in the supply of and demand for [...] Read more.
This paper explores use-related and socio-demographic variations in the valuation of urban green space (UGS) characteristics in the Brussels Capital Region (BCR), lending insights into the valuation of the cultural ecosystem services provided by UGS. Mismatches in the supply of and demand for UGS characteristics are also identified. Knowledge on the ways in which valuation of UGS characteristics vary and on an inadequate supply of UGS characteristics should guide and inspire planning and management of UGS to ensure that UGS provision meets the unique needs of communities. Online surveys were conducted in the BCR to determine how people use UGS, how they experience these spaces, and whether these spaces fulfil their needs for urban green Our findings indicate that socio-demographic characteristics (namely age and household composition) correspond with distinct patterns of use and valuation. Two subgroupings of users are identified: nature-oriented users and social users. Our accessibility analysis shows that, compared to social users, nature-oriented users tend to travel farther to reach their most frequently used UGS but are more often satisfied with the supply of UGS characteristics. Our findings point to an inadequate supply of nature and overcrowding of UGS in the city centre of Brussels. We recommend that planners not only consider size and distance in UGS standards but also consider the demand for UGS characteristics as well. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Combining Social Media and Mobile Positioning Data in the Analysis of Tourist Flows: A Case Study from Szeged, Hungary
Sustainability 2021, 13(5), 2926; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13052926 - 08 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 555
Abstract
Despite the growing importance of mobile tracking technology in urban planning and traffic forecasting, its utilization in the understanding of the basic laws governing tourist flows remains limited. Knowledge regarding the motivations and spatial behavior of tourists has great potential in sustainable tourism [...] Read more.
Despite the growing importance of mobile tracking technology in urban planning and traffic forecasting, its utilization in the understanding of the basic laws governing tourist flows remains limited. Knowledge regarding the motivations and spatial behavior of tourists has great potential in sustainable tourism studies. In this paper, we combine social media (Twitter) and mobile positioning data (MPD) in the analysis of international tourism flows in Szeged, a secondary urban center in Hungary. First, the content of geotagged and non-geotagged Twitter messages referring to Szeged in a six-month period of 2018 was analyzed. In this way specific events attracting foreign tourists were identified. Then, using MPD data of foreign SIM cards, visitor peaks in the investigated period were defined. With the joint application of the social media and mobile positioning analytical tools, we were able to identify those attractions (festivals, sport and cultural events, etc.) that generated significant tourism arrivals in the city. Furthermore, using the mixed-method approach we were also able to analyze the movements of foreign visitors during one large-scale tourism event and evaluate its hinterland. Overall, this study supports the idea that social media data should be combined with other real-time data sources, such as MPD, in order to gain a more precise understanding of the behavior of tourists. The proposed analytical tool can contribute to methodological and conceptual development in the field, and information gained by its application can positively influence not only tourism management and planning but also tourism marketing and placemaking. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Exploring Impact of Surrounding Service Facilities on Urban Vibrancy Using Tencent Location-Aware Data: A Case of Guangzhou
Sustainability 2021, 13(2), 444; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13020444 - 06 Jan 2021
Viewed by 548
Abstract
Urban vibrancy contributes towards a successful city and high-quality life for people as one of its vital elements. Therefore, the association between service facilities and vibrancy is crucial for urban managers to understand and improve city construction. Moreover, the rapid development of information [...] Read more.
Urban vibrancy contributes towards a successful city and high-quality life for people as one of its vital elements. Therefore, the association between service facilities and vibrancy is crucial for urban managers to understand and improve city construction. Moreover, the rapid development of information and communications technology (ICT) allows researchers to easily and quickly collect a large volume of real-time data generated by people in daily life. In this study, against the background of emerging multi-source big data, we utilized Tencent location data as a proxy for 24-h vibrancy and adopted point-of-interest (POI) data to represent service facilities. An analysis framework integrated with ordinary least squares (OLS) and geographically and temporally weighted regression (GTWR) models is proposed to explore the spatiotemporal relationships between urban vibrancy and POI-based variables. Empirical results show that (1) spatiotemporal variations exist in the impact of service facilities on urban vibrancy across Guangzhou, China; and (2) GTWR models exhibit a higher degree of explanatory capacity on vibrancy than the OLS models. In addition, our results can assist urban planners to understand spatiotemporal patterns of urban vibrancy in a refined resolution, and to optimize the resource allocation and functional configuration of the city. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Investigating the Complexity of Spatial Interactions between Different Administrative Units in China Using Flickr Data
Sustainability 2020, 12(22), 9778; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12229778 - 23 Nov 2020
Viewed by 515
Abstract
Location-based social media have facilitated us to bridge the gap between virtual and physical worlds through the exploration of human online dynamics from a geographic perspective. This study uses a large collection of geotagged photos from Flickr to investigate the complexity of spatial [...] Read more.
Location-based social media have facilitated us to bridge the gap between virtual and physical worlds through the exploration of human online dynamics from a geographic perspective. This study uses a large collection of geotagged photos from Flickr to investigate the complexity of spatial interactions at the country level. We adopted three levels of administrative divisions in mainland China—province, city, and county—as basic geographic units and established three types of topology—province–province network, city–city network, and county–county network—from the extracted user movement trajectories. We conducted the scaling analysis based on heavy-tailed distribution statistics including power law exponents, goodness of fit index, and ht-index, by which we characterized a great complexity of the trajectory lengths, spatial distribution of geotagged photos, and the related metrics of built networks. The great complexity indicates the highly imbalanced ratio of populated-to-unpopulated areas or large-to-small flows between areas. More interestingly, all power law exponents were around 2 for the networks at various spatial and temporal scales. Such a recurrence of scaling statistics at multiple resolutions can be regarded a statistical self-similarity and could thus help us to reveal the fractal nature of human mobility patterns. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Tweeting the High Line Life: A Social Media Lens on Urban Green Spaces
Sustainability 2020, 12(21), 8895; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12218895 - 27 Oct 2020
Viewed by 636
Abstract
The objective of this study is to investigate elevated parks as urban green spaces using social media data analytics. Two popular elevated parks, the High Line Park in New York and the 606 in Chicago, were selected as the study sites. Tweets mentioning [...] Read more.
The objective of this study is to investigate elevated parks as urban green spaces using social media data analytics. Two popular elevated parks, the High Line Park in New York and the 606 in Chicago, were selected as the study sites. Tweets mentioning the two parks were collected from 2015 to 2019. By using text mining, social media users’ sentiments and conveyed perceptions about the elevated parks were studied. In addition, users’ activities and their satisfaction were analyzed. For the 606, users mainly enjoyed the free events at the park and worried about possible increases in housing prices and taxes because of the 606. They tended to participate in physical activities such as biking and walking. Although the 606 provides scenic observation points, users did not seem to enjoy these. Regarding the High Line, users frequently mentioned New York City, which is an important aspect of the identity of the park. The High Line users also frequently mentioned arts and relaxation. Overall, this study supports the idea that social media analytics can be used to gain an understanding of the public’s use of urban green spaces and their attitudes and concerns. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Healthy Cities, New Technologies and Sustainability: A Collaborative Mapping of Informal Sport Activity in the Public Space of Cities as an Innovative Tool for Understanding City Sport Phenomena
Sustainability 2020, 12(19), 8176; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12198176 - 03 Oct 2020
Viewed by 693
Abstract
Urban public space has become one of the main infrastructures for informal sports in cities. However, despite the high impact of that practice, local records only show the sports activity at the urban spaces specifically designed and regulated for that purpose. More information [...] Read more.
Urban public space has become one of the main infrastructures for informal sports in cities. However, despite the high impact of that practice, local records only show the sports activity at the urban spaces specifically designed and regulated for that purpose. More information about where this practice arises and what attributes of urban space promote it would allow the adoption of specific measures in urban and sports policies. This paper proposes a methodology mainly based on the mapping of this informal sport activity and urban places where it appears by local communities and sportspeople. These collaborative maps are supported by the use of geographical information system (GIS) technologies and surveys on local communities. The research establishes a double objective of identifying urban spaces where citizens perform outdoor sports and deepen the knowledge of the physical attributes of public spaces that promote sports and local demands related to public space requirements. This methodology has been tested in the city of Malaga, the European City of Sport 2020, as a reference of a city with a growing outdoors’ sport activity. The main contribution is focused on the use of new tools that offer subjective information: opinions and habits of citizens in relation to sport urban practice. This information—which is difficult to obtain through other resources—should be considered for the design of urban and sports policies according to citizens’ demands. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Understanding Perceived Site Qualities and Experiences of Urban Public Spaces: A Case Study of Social Media Reviews in Bryant Park, New York City
Sustainability 2020, 12(19), 8036; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12198036 - 29 Sep 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 634
Abstract
Urban public spaces are a key component to the well-being and prosperity of modern society. It has been increasingly important to improve the qualities and maximize the usages of urban public spaces. There is a lack of studies that investigate how people use [...] Read more.
Urban public spaces are a key component to the well-being and prosperity of modern society. It has been increasingly important to improve the qualities and maximize the usages of urban public spaces. There is a lack of studies that investigate how people use and perceive urban parks using quantitative analysis of location-based social media reviews. This study tackles this gap by introducing a case study that uses social media reviews (Tripadivisor.com) to understand the perceived site quality and experiences of Bryant Park in New York City. A large dataset including 11,419 Tripadvisor reviews from 10,615 users was collected. LDA (Latent Dirichlet Allocation), a natural language processing and machine learning technique, was used to perform topic modeling analysis that could reveal hidden themes in large amounts of text. The results include five semantic topics and their associated topic terms. A comprehensive overview of the user experiences in Bryant Park were provided along with their weekly and monthly dynamics. The findings provide insights for future public space designers and managers by revealing how users describe the designs and operations of Bryant Park. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Rio Olympic Games: A Look into City Dynamics through the Lens of Twitter Data
Sustainability 2020, 12(17), 7003; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12177003 - 27 Aug 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 738
Abstract
The Olympic Games have a huge impact on the cities where they are held, both during the actual celebration of the event, and before and after it. This study presents a new approach based on spatial analysis, GIS, and data coming from Location-Based [...] Read more.
The Olympic Games have a huge impact on the cities where they are held, both during the actual celebration of the event, and before and after it. This study presents a new approach based on spatial analysis, GIS, and data coming from Location-Based Social Networks to model the spatiotemporal dimension of impacts associated with the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Geolocalized data from Twitter are used to analyze the activity pattern of users from two different viewpoints. The first monitors the activity of Twitter users during the event—The arrival of visitors, where they came from, and the use which residents and tourists made of different areas of the city. The second assesses the spatiotemporal use of the city by Twitter users before the event, compared to the use during and after the event. The results not only reveal which spaces were the most used while the Games were being held but also changes in the urban dynamics after the Games. Both approaches can be used to assess the impacts of mega-events and to improve the management and allocation of urban resources such as transport and public services infrastructure. Full article
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