Cityware: Urban Computing to Bridge Online and Real-World Social Networks

Cityware: Urban Computing to Bridge Online and Real-World Social Networks

Vassilis Kostakos (University of Bath, UK) and Eamonn O’Neill (University of Bath, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-152-0.ch013
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In this paper, we describe a platform that enables us to systematically study online social networks alongside their real-world counterparts. Our system, entitled Cityware, merges users’ online social data, made available through Facebook, with mobility traces captured via Bluetooth scanning. Furthermore, our system enables users to contribute their own mobility traces, thus allowing users to form and participate in a community. In addition to describing Cityware’s architecture, we discuss the type of data we are collecting, and the analyses our platform enables, as well as users’ reactions and thoughts.
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The formalised study of network graphs is considered to have begun by Euler’s famous solution to the Seven Bridges of Königsberg problem in 1736 (Biggs et al., 1986). In his solution, Euler represented the four landmasses and seven bridges of Königsberg, now Kaliningrad, as four nodes and seven links respectively. Thus, he was able to prove that no route crosses each bridge only once. Graph theory has greatly advanced every since, mostly focusing on mathematical proofs and theorems on graph topology, trees and cycles.

While graphs have been used to explore relationships between social entities for over a century, it was not until the 1950’s that this became a systematic, and ultimately scientific process. Some of the first studies to engage in social network analysis are the kinship studies of Elizabeth Bott (Bott, 1957) and the urbanisation studies pioneered by Max Gluckman in Zambia (Gluckman & Aronoff, 1976). Similarly, Granovetter’s work (1973) lay the foundations for the small world hypothesis, suggesting that everyone is within six degrees of separation, while Wellman’s work gave some evidence of how large-scale social changes have affected the nature of personal communities and the support they provide (1979). Since then, social network analysis has moved from being a suggestive metaphor to becoming an analytic approach, with its own theories and research methods. In the 1970’s, Freeman developed a multitude of metrics for analysing social and communication networks (e.g. 2004), thus boosting commercial interest in the area due to companies aiming to optimise their procedures and operations. In the last decade, the identification of mathematical principles such as the small-world and scaling phenomena (Barabasi & Albert, 1999; Watts & Strogatz, 1998), underpinning many natural and man-made systems, have sparked further interest in the study of networks.

The systems design community has also been interested in the study of social networks as well as online social networks. Typical research topics in the area include the effect of social engagement on behaviour (e.g. Millen & Patterson, 2002), the issue of identity and projected identity (Lee & Nass, 2003), as well as the design of socio-technical systems (Herrmann et al., 2004). The recent proliferation of online social networking system such as Facebook, Dodgeball and MySpace, has provided researchers with platforms for carrying out research into online social behaviour, and a journal devoted to this topic ( In the Urban Computing domain, such studies have looked at the effect of social incentives and contextual information on the use of public transportation (Booher et al., 2007), the relationship between users’ online profiles and their online behaviour (Lampe et al., 2007), the various trust issues that emerge from using such systems (Riegelsberber & Vasalou, 2007), how such systems can help strengthen neighbourhoods (Foth, 2006), and the development of systematic grounds to base our designs (Kostakos et al., 2006).

To make inferences from online behaviour datasets, researchers still have to collect data from the real world and relate it to the online data. Thus, while social networking websites make it easy to capture large amounts of data, researchers still need to employ interviews, focus groups, questionnaires, or any other method that enables them to relate online with real world data.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Bluetooth Identifier: A unique 12-digit hexadecimal number used by Bluetooth components for identification.

Social Network: A structure that represents social relationships. The strutter typically consists of nodes and links between the nodes, and the nodes represent people while the links represent a specific type of relationship such as friendship, marriage, or financial relationship.

Aggregate Patterns of [Behaviour/Encounter/Diffusion]: On an individual level each person behaves in distinct and unique ways, having specific objectives in mind. Yet, when analysed at an aggregate level, communities and cities exhibit non-random patterns that emerge from the combination of each distinct person’s activities. Such patterns are known as aggregate patterns, and can describe how people encounter each other, or how information is diffused and spread through the community.

Urban Computing: A research field focused on the development of computer systems that are to be used in urban space. Typically, such systems entail fixed, mobile and embedded components.

Massively Distributed System: A real-time computer system with large numbers of physical and logical components spanning great geographic distances.

Complete Chapter List

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List of Reviewers
Table of Contents
Anthony Townsend
Marcus Foth
Marcus Foth
Chapter 1
Amanda Williams, Erica Robles, Paul Dourish
This chapter critically examines the notion of “the city” within urban informatics. Arguing that there is an overarching tendency to construe the... Sample PDF
Urbane-ing the City: Examining and Refining the Assumptions Behind Urban Informatics
Chapter 2
Jaz Hee-Jeong Choi, Adam Greenfield
Once a city shaped by the boundary conditions of heavy industrialisation and cheap labour, within a few years Seoul has transformed itself to one of... Sample PDF
To Connect and Flow in Seoul: Ubiquitous Technologies, Urban Infrastructure and Everyday Life in the Contemporary Korean City
Chapter 3
Nancy Odendaal
Recent literature on African cities examines the way in which social networks function as critical livelihood arteries in the ongoing survival... Sample PDF
Creating an Analytical Lens for Understanding Digital Networks in Urban South Africa
Chapter 4
Wayne Beyea
Community planning is facing many challenges around the world, such as the rapid growth of megacities as well as urban sprawl. The State of Michigan... Sample PDF
Place Making Through Participatory Planning
Chapter 5
Mike Ananny, Carol Strohecker
In this paper, we describe the design and installation of a new kind of public opinion forum—TexTales, a public, large-scale interactive projection... Sample PDF
TexTales: Creating Interactive Forums with Urban Publics
Chapter 6
Jenny Preece
This chapter describes a small networked community in which residents of an apartment building in Washington, D.C., USA supplement their... Sample PDF
An Event-Driven Community in Washington, DC: Forces That Influence Participation
Chapter 7
Fiorella De Cindio
After more than a decade of e-participation initiatives at the urban level, what remains obscure is the alchemy—i.e., the “arcane” combination of... Sample PDF
Moments and Modes for Triggering Civic Participation at the Urban Level
Chapter 8
Michael Veith
Societies face serious challenges when trying to integrate migrant communities. One-sided solutions do not pay tribute to the complexity of this... Sample PDF
Fostering Communities in Urban Multi-Cultural Neighbourhoods: Some Methodological Reflections
Chapter 9
Victor M. Gonzalez, Kenneth L. Kraemer, Luis A. Castro
The practical use of information technology devices in domestic and residential contexts often results in radical changes from their envisioned... Sample PDF
Beyond Safety Concerns: On the Practical Applications of Urban Neighbourhood Video Cameras
Chapter 10
Colleen Morgan
This chapter explores how we may design located information and communication technologies (ICTs) to foster community sentiment. It focuses... Sample PDF
The Figmentum Project: Appropriating Information and Communication Technologies to Animate Our Urban Fabric
Chapter 11
Barbara Crow, Michael Longford, Kim Sawchuk, Andrea Zeffiro
The Mobile Media Lab (MML) is a Canadian interdisciplinary research team exploring wireless communications, mobile technologies and locative media... Sample PDF
Voices from Beyond: Ephemeral Histories, Locative Media and the Volatile Interface
Chapter 12
Helen Klaebe
This chapter defines, explores and Illustrates research at the intersection of people, place and technology in cities. First, we theorise the notion... Sample PDF
Embedding an Ecology Notion in the Social Production of Urban Space
Chapter 13
Vassilis Kostakos, Eamonn O’Neill
In this paper, we describe a platform that enables us to systematically study online social networks alongside their real-world counterparts. Our... Sample PDF
Cityware: Urban Computing to Bridge Online and Real-World Social Networks
Chapter 14
Katharine S. Willis
In our everyday lives, we are surrounded by information which weaves itself silently into the very fabric of our existence. Much of the time we act... Sample PDF
Information Places: Navigating Interfaces between Physical and Digital Space
Chapter 15
Viktor Bedö
This chapter contributes to the ongoing effort to understand the nature of locative urban information by proposing that locative urban information... Sample PDF
A Visual Approach to Locative Urban Information
Chapter 16
Tristan Thielmann
Car navigation systems, based on “augmented reality,” no longer direct the driver through traffic by simply using arrows, but represent the... Sample PDF
Navigation Becomes Travel Scouting: The Augmented Spaces of Car Navigation Systems
Chapter 17
Daisuke Tamada
A lot of street view services, which present views of urban landscapes, have recently appeared. The conventional method for making street views... Sample PDF
QyoroView: Creating a Large-Scale Street View as User-Generated Content
Chapter 18
Hideyuki Nakanishi, Toru Ishida, Satoshi Koizumi
Many research projects have studied various aspects of smart environments including smart rooms, home, and offices. Few projects, however, have... Sample PDF
Virtual Cities for Simulating Smart Urban Public Spaces
Chapter 19
Andrew Hudson-Smith
Digital cities are moving well beyond their original conceptions as entities representing the way computers and communications are hard wired into... Sample PDF
The Neogeography of Virtual Cities: Digital Mirrors into a Recursive World
Chapter 20
Laura Forlano
This chapter introduces the role of community wireless networks (CWNs) in reconfiguring people, places and information in cities. CWNs are important... Sample PDF
Codespaces: Community Wireless Networks and the Reconfiguration of Cities
Chapter 21
Katrina Jungnickel, Genevieve Bell
From WiFi (802.11b) with its fixed and mobile high-speed wireless broadband Internet connectivity to WiMAX (802.16e), the newest wireless protocol... Sample PDF
Home is Where the Hub Is? Wireless Infrastructures and the Nature of Domestic Culture in Australia
Chapter 22
Andres Sevtsuk
This chapter presents the iSPOTS project, which collects and maps data of WiFi usage on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus in... Sample PDF
Mapping the MIT Campus in Real Time Using WiFi
Chapter 23
John M. Carroll
We discuss the vision, plan, and status of a research project investigating community-oriented services and applications, comprising a wireless... Sample PDF
Supporting Community with Location-Sensitive Mobile Applications
Chapter 24
Christine Satchell
Early 21st century societies are evolving into a hybrid of real and synthetic worlds where everyday activities are mediated by technology. The... Sample PDF
From Social Butterfly to Urban Citizen: The Evolution of Mobile Phone Practice
Chapter 25
Jong-Sung Hwang
u-City is South Korea’s answer to urban community challenges leveraging ubiquitous computing technology to deliver state-of-the-art urban services.... Sample PDF
u-City: The Next Paradigm of Urban Development
Chapter 26
Dan Shang, Jean-François Doulet, Michael Keane
This chapter examines the development of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in urban China, focusing mainly on their impact on social... Sample PDF
Urban Informatics in China: Exploring the Emergence of the Chinese City 2.0
Chapter 27
Francesco Calabrese
The real-time city is now real! The increasing deployment of sensors and handheld electronic devices in recent years allows for a new approach to... Sample PDF
WikiCity: Real-Time Location-Sensitive Tools for the City
Chapter 28
Eric Paulos, RJ Honicky, Ben Hooker
In this chapter, we present an important new shift in mobile phone usage—from communication tool to “networked mobile personal measurement... Sample PDF
Citizen Science: Enabling Participatory Urbanism
Chapter 29
Mark Shepard
What happens to urban space given a hypothetical future where all information loses its body, that is, when it is offloaded from the material... Sample PDF
Extreme Informatics: Toward the De-Saturated City
Chapter 30
Roger J. Burrows
Is it still the case that one can symptomatically read the early work of the cyberpunk author William Gibson as a form of prefigurative urban theory... Sample PDF
Urban Informatics and Social Ontology
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