Crowds - Understanding urban land use from digital footprints of crowds


The established view on semantic organization of space is based on the concept of "land use", which corresponds to an aggregate perspective on the use of an area (e.g. agriculture, residential, business, etc.). The characterization of urban block is built on the human activities that happen there, however a more disaggregated and dynamic view is now possible due to availability of new techniques and technologies. In fact, this should become a more natural way to profile the places. Understanding population dynamics by type, neighborhood, or region would enable customized services (and advertising), as well as the accurate timing of urban service provisions, such as scheduling transit service based on daily, weekly, or monthly mobility demand. In general, more synchronous management of service infrastructures clearly could play an important role in urban mobility management. This fine grained analysis, up to the level of the establishment, makes a big leap in terms of understanding the use of space for the purposes of urban planning and management. In recent work (e.g. [Alves 2009A*, Alves 2009B*]), we have presented several perspectives on extracting semantics of the place from online information. A further step shapes on the intersection of such generic information about space with other digital footprints, such as cell phone usage or taxi demand. An essential scientific contribution of this proposal will be on development of new techniques for land use analysis supported on semantic enriched POIs. Although a substantial number of works evolved along the last years on these topics, in general the means that they use to understand people presence (Erlang measures from mobile operators or geo-referenced photos) were not scrutinized for validity. Our contribution on this topic will be on the correlating these indirect probes with ground truth information on the presence of people, namely using data gathered by the police departments on the number of people attending events like football games or musical happenings. This is a validation step that is essential for the evaluation of the use of indirect means and a second core research goal pursued by the work described in this proposal.


Funded by

COMPETE - Programa Operacional Factores de Competitividade (PTDC/EIA-EIA/115014/2009)


Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia da Universidade de Coimbra (FCT/UC)

Total budget

152 863,00 €


Pegadas digitais, Pontos de interesse, Enriquecimento semântico de pontos de interesse, Utilização do espaço urbano

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