01 Concept and project objective(s)

The project aims at bringing a new product to the urban design, city planning and urban management market: a platform that extracts patterns of use and citizens’ perceptions related or concerning city spaces, through robust analysis of User Generated Content (UGC) shared by the city users and inhabitants over social networks and digital media.

The platform will apply text mining and conversation analysis to geolocalized and not geolocalized user generated content (real-time data coming from social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Flickr, etc and other case specific portals) in order to provide meaningful visual images and maps about citizens’ perception of public services, urban public spaces, and of the city as a whole. For the not-geolocalized UGC we will apply entity recognition (NER) methods to assign geographical scopes, through automatic GeoReferencing, including GeoParsing (or GeoExtraction) and GeoCoding processes.

The project will develop a web-based system focused on the needs of the SMEs participating in the project. The platform will allow the SMEs to access a friendly interface and to perform and reuse personalized queries on a GIS (geographic information system). This GIS is connected to real-time feeds coming from user generated content and will provide different level of understanding on how the city, and particularly public spaces, are experienced, perceived and communicated by citizens.

A set of indicators corresponding to the specific needs of the SMEs participating into the consortium, providing a personalized version of the services offered by Urban Sensing, will be defined. A validation process will take place in 3 different countries across Europe.

The tools and services provided by Urban Sensing will support the SMEs involved in the consortium in their decision-making processes through a set of personalization of the platform in three main information domains:

• –  Urban Policy assessment (Accurat)

• –  Exhibitions, Events assessment (LUST).

• –  Public transportation, commuting assessment (Mobivery)
Closing a cybernetic feedback loop between cities and their citizens, the platform will monitor and map real-time information related to shared perceptions, emotions and opinions in urban environments. This will provide a better understanding of how events, spatial interventions and transformations are perceived within a city, and at the same time also giving hints to designers, developers and entrepreneurs who are willing to adopt a more human-centred approach toward cities’ evolution.
Urban Sensing can also be the basis to build innovative services based on distinct local spatial and temporal intelligence. In particular, the Urban Sensing platform will try to:
analyse users’ perceptions related to specific geographic areas;

◦ understand how population reacts to new urban policies;

◦ detect the lack of structures offered by institutions and city administrations;

• discover possible emergent structures and bottom-up initiatives responding to uncovered needs and desires;

• measure the performability of public spaces, potentially discovering under-used spatial resources;

• understand where to act more efficiently when a specific need emerges;

• discover meaningful relationships and connections between places, people and uses;

• understand how specific features of city spaces, services and events affect people’s emotions;

• understand how specific user groups use public spaces;

• identify locations suitable for design interventions;

• sensitize decision-makers and practitioners in the field of architecture and design, as well as the general public, about public space potentialities;

• create useful tools aimed at SMEs Institutions and large operators, involved in monitoring, designing and implementing strategies and policies oriented to improve the responsiveness of urban systems to the requests of citizens and customers;

• detect post-event/fair reactions and comments by citizens and participants