Gentrification predicted by social media

3439873267_95de459de1_z

flickr photo by x6e38 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Gentrification – the process by which a deprived area becomes affluent – can be predicted by data from location-specific social media networks.

The University of Cambridge researchers used data from location-specific social media networks, such as Facebook Places and Foursquare, to show that the process of poor to posh can be identified when high levels of both deprivation and social diversity are seen to develop in an area.

Check ins

Predicting gentrification uses data analysis of social media check-ins which reveal behaviours derived from the particular places that people go.

37,000 users and 42,000 venues in London were used to build a network of Foursquare places and Twitter visitors, totalling half a million check-ins over a ten-month period.

Researchers quantified the social diversity of various areas by distinguishing between places that:

  • brought together strangers v those that brought together friends
  • attracted diverse individuals as opposed to those attracting ‘regulars’

The data was then correlated with London wellbeing indicators, such as lower crime rates and rising house prices.

Lead researcher Desislava Hristova:

“We’re looking at the social roles and properties of places. We found that the most socially cohesive and homogenous areas tend to be either very wealthy or very poor, but neighbourhoods with both high social diversity and high deprivation are the ones which are currently undergoing processes of gentrification.”

In order to measure the social diversity of a given place or neighbourhood, the researchers defined four distinct measures:

  • brokerage: ability of a place to connect people who are otherwise disconnected
  • serendipity: how a place can induce chance encounters between visitors
  • entropy: extent to which a place is diverse in respect of its visitors
  • homogeneity: extent to which visitors to a place are homogenous in characteristics

In ‘places’, researchers found that particular venues attracted friends where others attracted strangers. Friends are more likely to meet at a fried chicken restaurant, a B&B, a football match or a strip club, whereas strangers frequented dumpling restaurants, motels, art museums or gay bars.

Notes
Desislava Hristova et al. ‘Measuring Urban Social Diversity Using Interconnected Geo-Social Networks.’ http://www2016.ca/program-at-a-glance.html.

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New technologies illuminate Babylonian tale

Ark

New technologies at Warwick University have helped British Museum’s Babylonian language expert, Dr Finkle, to decipher a 4,000 year old tablet believed to narrate the story of Noah’s Ark.

Inscribed in Babylonian ‘cuneiform’ – the world’s oldest known standardised writing system – the tablet is believed to depict the story of a Noah-like character and a flood, complete with instructions on how to build an Ark.

Cuneiform is a writing system which involved marking wet clay tablets with a stylus (a wedge-like tool). The tablet and stylus exist in essence today.

The tablet, discovered 20 years ago on a mantel piece in a UK home was damaged in parts due to millennial ‘wear and tear ‘ and rendered indecipherable. The 3D visualisation technologies, typically used in engineering, have enabled the translation of the whole tablet and uncovered new insights into the tablet’s story. 

Puzzle

3D visualisation technology marries techniques such as computer aided design (CAD), infrared technology, animation software and photo capture. Often used in vehicle production, the same methods involved in projecting a potential end product was adopted for projecting the missing parts of the ancient tablet.

Projected onto a 3D wall, the tablet was made viewable at all angles via 3D visualisation technology. This allowed Dr Finkle to decipher the complete text of the tablet.

Story

The new vision of the tablet and revised translation suggests that the ark that featured in the story was round in shape, rather than the previously assumed oval boat-shape. This suggests that the ark was possibly built to float rather than sail.

Continue reading

Gentrification predicted by social media data

3439873267_95de459de1_z

flickr photo by x6e38 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Gentrification – the process by which a deprived area becomes affluent – can be predicted by data from location-specific social media networks.

The Cambridge University study took data from location-specific social media networks, such as Facebook places and Foursquare, to show that the ‘poor to posh’ process can be identified when high levels of deprivation and social diversity are seen to develop in an area.

Data crunch

Predicting gentrification is more than a spike of social media users tweeting about Radio 4 programmes. It is data analysis of social media check-ins which reveal behaviours derived from the particular places that people go.

37,000 users and 42,000 venues in London were used to build a network of Foursquare places and Twitter visitors, totalling half a million check-ins over a ten-month period.

Researchers quantified the social diversity of various areas by distinguishing between places that:

  • brought together strangers versus those brought together friends
  • attracted diverse individuals as opposed to those attracting ‘regulars’

Continue reading

Blood pressure app downloaded 100,000 times proves inaccurate, study shows

Blood pressure

flickr photo by Waifer X shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

A blood pressure app that has been downloaded over 100,000 has been shown to be unreliable, according to a study by John Hopkins University, with just a 20% accuracy rate.

The ‘Instant Blood Pressure’ app claimed to provide an accurate and instant measure of blood pressure when the user placed a SMART phone to their chest.

Results of a study of 85 volunteers using the app under the guidance of health professionals showed that the app missed the warning signs in eight out of ten patients who had high blood pressure.  Continue reading

New technologies illuminate Babylonian tale

Ark

New technologies at Warwick University have helped British Museum’s Babylonian language expert, Dr Finkle, to decipher a 4,000 year old tablet believed to narrate the story of Noah’s Ark.

Inscribed in Babylonian ‘cuneiform’ – the world’s oldest known standardised writing system – the tablet is believed to depict the story of a Noah-like character and a flood, complete with instructions on how to build an Ark.

Cuneiform is a writing system which involved marking wet clay tablets with a stylus (a wedge-like tool). The tablet and stylus exist in essence today.

Continue reading

Scientists unveil first method for controlling growth of metal crystals

Nanotechnology

The first method of controlling the growth of metal-crystals from single atoms has been announced by the UK’s Warwick University.

Known as ‘nanocrystallometry,’ the new process allows for the creation of precise components for use in nanotechnology.

According to Professor Peter Sadler of Warwick’s Chemistry Department the breakthrough ‘allows us to observe and directly control the nano-world in action.’ Continue reading

No Signal, No Problem: World’s First Text Message Sent Using Molecules

water.molecule, chemical, molecular communication“O Canada” – the first two words of the Canadian National anthem, is the first text message to be communicated via chemical signalling – a molecular communication system. 

The two word text was sent in a joint project between York University in Canada and Warwick University in the UK. The findings are published in the journal PNAS.

“O Canada” was first translated into binary signals and then “programmed” into evaporated alcohol molecules with the message then being translated several metres away. The decoding equipment used cost as little as $100.  Nariman Farsad, lead researcher at York University said:

We believe we have sent the world’s first text message to be transmitted entirely with molecular communication, controlling concentration levels of the alcohol molecules, to encode the alphabets with single spray representing bit 1 and no spray representing the bit 0.”

The need to communicate over a distance has always been an integral part of being human. Throughout history, communication methods have ranged from semaphores (flag communication), fire beacons, smoke signals, and carrier birds. Modern society settled on electrical signals and electromagnetic waves.

communicating with flags

There are a number of environments where communication via radio waves is not possible – in these cases chemical or molecules communication could enable communication where it was not possible before, for example: 

  • tunnels
  • pipelines
  • underwater
  • within the body

Data has been successfully transmitted using  chemicals before, yet no one has ever transmitted continuous data or achieved a distance of over several meters – the researchers effectively went to the “next level” in molecular communication.

Molecular communication is a possible solution to the problem of communicating in “no signal” areas. Plant and animals communicate via chemicals, for example, insects use pheromones for long – range signalling, and bees use chemicals in pheromones to signal a threat to the hive. The communication evident in the plant and animal world however is essentially “signalling,” not “continuous data.”

Researchers believe that molecular communication provides the potential for a simple and cheap communication tool in non conventional environments, as the method is biocompatible and require very little energy to generate and propagate.

In future, electromagnetic waves will continue to transmit the bulk of our data, yet molecular communication could be used to enable communication in environments where it has not been possible before due to lack of radio waves, with the potential to prevent disasters from poor health in structures and processes such as the 2013 “fatberg” and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill –

Potential targeted applications include wireless monitoring of sewage works and oil rigs. This could prevent future disasters such as the bus-sized fatberg found blocking the London sewage networks in 2013, and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010.”

Further possibilities include communication in hostile environments and uses in nanotechnology – for example in medicine where recent advances mean it’s possible to embed sensors into the organs of the body or create miniature robots to carry out a specific task such as targeting drugs to cancer cells. Researchers add;

On these tiny scales and in special structural environments, there are constraints with electromagnetic signals such as the ratio of antenna size to the wavelength of the signal, which chemical communication does not have.”

The possibilities are endless, and not unlike the stuff of thrillers. Dr Weisi Guo of Warwick University, adds –

Imagine sending a detailed message using perfume it sounds like something from a spy thriller novel, but in reality it is an incredibly simple way to communicate.”

Notes:

Tabletop Molecular Communication: Text Messages through Chemical Signals

http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0082935

Warwick Press Release:

http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/pressreleases/messages_sent_via/

8 incredible nano technologies –

http://io9.com/5967198/8-incredible-nanotechnologies-that-actually-exist-in-the-real-world

Image credit: with thanks to RGB Free photographer rgbalpha