Urban Analytics. Shared City Photos

Urban Analytics. Shared City Photos

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We are back with another material about “Urban Analytics” module. This article will describe the “Shared City Photos” tool. It can be used to assess the attractiveness of the urban environment through the analysis of digital footprints, which are the geolocations of city street photos taken and posted on social networks.

How does it work?

The most beautiful and attractive space is the one with most photos.

Separation of street photos from those taken indoors is done by a specially developed neural network that classifies them and adds only those photos to the map that were taken on the street.

There are two parts to the “Urban Analytics” module. The first is that each image is translated to a point, and the coordinates are assigned to each point based on geolocation, allows users to directly accumulate data and display it on a map.
The second is that the date of the photo is used for building line graphs and visualizing trends in photo frequency.

Map with geolocation points itself is enough to say a lot about the city and
the popularity of urban public spaces. To a certain extent, it is like a tourist map of the city. With this map, users can come up with tourist routes and support their feasibility with the data represented in the map layer. Another use for the data is for planning continuous sidewalks, and assessing the level of events and other activity. The use cases of “Shared City Photos” tool are not limited to displaying coordinates of city street photos posted on social networks. Explore further uses:

  1. Run calculation and get as a result the density map of city street photos over intervals of time, identifying hotspots for photo activity and giving it a quantitative appraisal.
  2. Build line graphs of street photo frequency over intervals of time to visualize peaks of photo activity, seasonality and other trends. To make a good assessment of a digital footprint, knowing distribution of photos over certain area is not enough. How it changes over time is important too, so the tool lets users plot the number of photos on the timeline for the whole city or a certain territory.
  3. Outline the target territory for analysis and build a photo activity line graph.
  4. Visualize the trends in changes in the number of photos and compare how many were posted online in a single city area for the two specified time periods.
  5. Estimate the dynamics of public spaces popularity over time.

The tool is implemented in Kazan as part of Complex Municipal Geographic Information System. Consider some of its real-life usage examples:

Example No. 1.

Example No. 1. It is fair to say that the tool helps evaluate the attractiveness and popularity of certain urban spaces in absolute numerical values.

According to the graph below, just a couple years ago, the period of most photographic activity were the New Year holidays, peaking during the period from 25th of December, 2019 to 10th of January, 2020. Yet the overall tendency is the decrease of the number of New Year’s street photos. This year, most of them were taken around the time of City Anniversary Day or “Sabantuy” summer fest, and their number exceeded the ones taken during winter.

It is fair to say that the tool helps evaluate the attractiveness and popularity of certain urban spaces in absolute numerical values.

Example No. 2.

Example No. 2. Restricting search area to a popular family centre called «Kazan» shows how New Year holidays cause surge in photo activity.

Restricting search area to a popular family centre called “Kazan” shows how New Year holidays cause surge in photo activity. Yet search in the same area for different time period revealed that people paid more attention to this spot on the Independence Day than around the New Year’s eve.

Example No. 3.

Since 2018, the Kaban Lake embankment has been undergoing renovation. The project turned out to be very successful and is widely known among architects, judging by how many times it was tagged online and mentioned in posts. The place has become more popular among city tourists and residents too, as evidenced by the street photos dynamics. Before 2018, pictures were made only 11 times along the entire stretch of the embankment. After the 1st stage of the project was delivered, the number of photos increased to 1000. In 2019, we count 1,350 photos. This trend continues each year except for the year 2020 which was affected by Covid-19. It is interesting how the location of the photos themselves changes as the renovated territory expands.

Example No. 4.

In October 2019 the capital of Tatarstan hosted World Urban Parks Congress, and the Kazan forest park «Swan Harbour» was nominated for the International Urban Parks Award in the Eurasian Park Awards category. The landscaping of the Swan Lakes is in fact only the final touch of a large renovation project. Once this wonderful gift of nature got lost, and now it is reclaimed, although at a considerable cost. The renovation was completed in 2018. The bottom of the lakes was restored, as well as the communication with the Emerald Lake. The animation shows how the number and location of photographs change as the pieces of work are completed and the facilities are put into operation.

This is the way for the city to give feedback, and Geometa and the “Shared City Photos” tool allow you to collect it and translate into measurable data. Thanks to this, city administrations have now the power to:
— evaluate and measure the success of renovation accomplishments;
— plan the opening of a new public space where such a space is clearly lacking, like in residential areas, for example;
— transform the existing public space if the results of shared photos analytics say that people do not consider it beautiful enough, photo-worthy, or due to a simple reason that it is rarely visited.

For the information about all the capabilities of Geometa please read the “Solutions” section.

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