Help Make The Twin Cities A ‘Livehood’

August 6, 2012

A friend of mine recently wrote a post that said he’d love to see the Twin Cities become a “livehood.”

A livehood? I investigated, found out what I livehood is and I agree, I’d like to see the Twin Cities become a livehood. According to the researchers who developed this concept, the character of an urban area is defined not only by the shops and parks and other landmarks that make the city what it is, but also by the way the people in incorporate the city’s offerings into their daily lives and day-to-day routines.

While the idea that a city is a living, breathing entity is not new, the way Livehood documents the pulse of the city is unique. Livehood uses data from social networks such as Twitter and Foursquare and maps the data into a kind of MRI or Doppler radar image of the city. The colors and dots on the map show how the city’s character shifts from one neighborhood to another.

The whole thing started in Pittsburgh as a research project by team at Carnegie Mellon. They developed an algorithm using social networking data. The mapping software, aggregates the data into geo clusters or livehoods. As people move about the city, their tweeting and check-in patterns reveal the dynamic character of the livehood and how it changes overtime.

It might seem like a big so what, but I know city planners, architects, urban ethnographers and other researchers who want to understand the cultural nuances that make up what we usually think of as a homogeneous neighborhood.

Seven locations have been mapped so far – New York City, San Francisco, Portland, Vancouver, Seattle, Montreal and Pittsburgh. But they are taking nominations for the next city. The nominating process is activated through Facebook and can be accessed by clicking on the “Can’t find your city?  Vote for it here.