What Can Be Gained From This Data?

Posted: June 9th, 2009 | No Comments »

Colleague Andrea Vaccari has been touring a lot lately, presenting the MIT SENSEable City Lab’s latest works, including his own Obama One People project. He took time to answer interviews on ZDNet and more recently in ReadWriteWeb and the New York Times: The Emerging World of Real-Time Cellphone Data and NYC Waterfalls: How Real-Time Cellphone Data Can Impact Local Economies. In the latter, he goes into more detailed with the work on the NYC Waterfalls we led together last summer. Particularly, he discloses the research process we developed to qualify the impact of the Waterfalls on the attractiveness of the New York City waterfront (Lower Manhattan and West Brooklyn) as applied in our paper Quantifying urban attractiveness from the distribution and density of digital footprints. This process helps getting first answers on what ReadWriteWeb rightly wonders when asking “What Can Be Gained From This Data?”

Research Proecess Waterfalls
Research process that starts with the collection of digital footprints, then the analysis over space and time of their characteristics that feed the definition and application of urban attractiveness indicators.

Relation to my thesis: The research process developed for the study of the Waterfalls was important to move beyond the pure descriptive work on Rome and Florence. After gaining a first understanding of the characteristics of the data, the current stage forces to prove that these digital footprints bring at least the same amount of knowledge than their “manual” data. In New York, our work complemented the official report on the Waterfalls economic impact.