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Using GEOSocial Data to Mine Insight

Photo of Chad Gardner
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Social media is powerful because it has democratized our ability to speak about our experiences at a particular time and place and share these thoughts with the world. Every Facebook post and tweet tells a story of what is going on in someone's life or around them. Now that the majority of the U.S population has access to a smartphone, we are able to share these moments ,and thoughts, as they are happening, where they are happening. All of this information has been pouring out over cities and communities for years and these posts can be used to create highly accurate portraits of our society and culture.

At Spatial we have spent the last few years developing technologies that have allowed us to listen to and understand communities and their potential needs. We use the rich resource of social media, machine learning techniques, and ethnography practices to create “Geosocial Data” which allows us to understand cities and neighborhoods much faster and more comprehensively than demographic or survey data has allowed in the past.

This unique data set has been used in applications from helping you find your new favorite quiet, artsy coffee shop to helping businesses choose their next location based on what the community wants or needs. Here is an example of how we used this data to discover “Close Knit Communities” in Pittsburgh, PA, one of our challenge cities.



With the City of Tomorrow Challenge we finally have an avenue to accomplish an original goal of our company, “How can we make cities better?” Working with the teams at Ford and IDEO, we have developed tools that allow ethnographic and mobility research efforts to reach insights in minutes that could take weeks, or months, through traditional methods. For each city participating in the challenge, we are using these tools to inform challenge goals presented by the cities and the proposals submitted by members of the community. As this challenge progresses we will periodically share insights from our findings as well as get involved with topics in the contributions section of the challenge.


How would you use location data to make positive change? 


If you have ideas on how to improve or address mobility or accessibility challenges let us know by submitting a contribution or creating a proposal. We would love to see what unexpected and unique ideas arise when everyone is empowered to make tangible decisions in their communities.

To learn more about how Spatial is using Geosocial data to understand communities or if you want to stay up to date about what were working on next check out our blog. Here are some articles related to this post to get you started.

5 Types of Location Data Sources (and their Pros and Cons)

Monday Map #3: Close Knit Communities in Pittsburgh

What if you could read the mind of a community?


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Photo of Brandon K

No ideas or improvements, but it is nice to see FORD do so much to improve transport in cities. I lived in Warren, Michigan for a few years and FORD gave a lot to the city in terms of infrastructure. CHEVY too, I respect American made companies giving back.

Photo of KatieWalsh 100

Hi Brandon - thanks for this comment - appreciated!