Geographies of Time

While municipal boundaries (zip codes or administrative boundaries) are actually necessary to provide order and organization to the city, they are not reflecting how people actually live and perceive areas.
The specific goal here is to build novel maps of city areas’ boundaries, mapping the different patterns of use (activities on Social Media) on specific areas of the city, and aiming to derive and represent new boundaries of the city neighborhoods: evolving, interplaying and overlapping.
By measuring social media activities (e.g. profile of people sharing from a place, characteristics of venues of the place, “pulsation” of social media activities
according to diverse timestamps in the place, typology of pictures people take in different areas, etc etc) in specific places of the city we aim at identifying some initial clustering operations highlighting similarities and drawing novel boundaries of those area sharing a strong “identity”.
This experiment will build novel geographies out of Social Media data production, rather than confirming / evaluating existent and well known ones.
Goegraphies of time is the first of a series of spatial aggregation based on Social media. Areas are defined and coloured according to the time period of the day they are pulsing the most.

We compared weekdays, weekends and a special week (the Milan design furniture fair)
High resolution images can be seen here: geographies of time – un set su Flickr.



The city geography is strongly related to the use of urban areas during the two different parts of the day: working hours and non-working hours.

Among the most interesting and well highlighted clusters identified are: The business areas (where administrative centres, banks and large company headquarters are located) San Babila, Duomo Missori, Porta Garibaldi, and Repubblica, as well as those areas close to the Central station and Cadorna, are populated during office hours: 9am-6pm. The area in the south of the city (Navigli, Porta Ticinese and Porta Romana) is still mainly visited in the evening (from 6pm until midnight). Porta Venezia, Brera, Sempione, Corso Como and via Cenisio are also densely populated in the evening and night. The university campuses (Politecnico Leonardo, Politecnico Bovisa, Bicocca) fill up during lesson hours.

Other insights

Contiguous areas used at different times / In Bicocca there is clearly a different use in contiguous areas: The campus buildings are mainly visited in the early hours of the afternoon (midday – 3pm), UCI Cinema and the shopping centre from 9pm until midnight.

The effect of European cups / San Siro is frequented in the evening (9pm-midnight).If you tweet before the start of the match on Sunday, contributions are generated during, and at the end of European cup matches.

Mobility / There is a noticeable difference in the use of city stations over time. Lambrate (6am-9am), Bovisa (6am-midday), Centrale (9am-6pm) Cadorna (3pm-6pm, Greco Pirelli (3pm-6pm) Garibaldi (6pm-9pm)


WEEKEND / The areas are characterised by more fragmentation than in the days of the week. The places and times of  contributions are more closely linked to domestic life and a multi-directional mobility, related to different free-time preferences. There are, however, some overall observations:

The central area, specifically the area of San Babila and Duomo, the axes from Via Dante and Via Torino, as well as the gardens of Porta Venezia and Parco Sempione have a very high concentration in the afternoon hours (midday to 6pm). The popularity of the southern area of the city (Navigli, Porta Ticinese and Porta Romana) in the evening (from 6pm until midnight) is confirmed. University campuses (Politecnico Leonardo, Politecnico Bovisa, Bicocca) are thin on contributions compared to lessons times during the week.

Other insights

San Siro Stadium /high concentration between midday and 3pm.  People mainly contribute just before the beginning of a match.

Central Station / high concentration between midday and 6pm. Many return to the city for the start of the working week?

Breakfast out…? / high concentration between 6am and 9am. People wake up early even at the weekend in via Farini and in Brera? Commercial activities have an early start?

Staying out late in…? / high concentration between midnight and 3am. Corso Como area, Naviglio Pavese (at the height of late closures) and (INEXPLICABLY) via Cenisio, corner of via Messina.


MILAN FURNITURE FAIR /High concentration of contributions in the exhibition halls area at Rho during afternoon hours.  Increase in concentration in areas that generate evening and late night activity, proving that the city is full of events and appointments. The central area of the city comes alive during aperitif hours (6pm-9pm). The Navigli and Porta Romana welcome a large number of people from 6pm onwards. High concentration of contributions in the evening in typical areas of the Design Week: Tortona and Ventura.

Full poster below:






geographies of time – un set su Flickr.