Gentrification through networking data

“The first network to look at the interconnected nature of people and places in large cities is not only able to quantify the social diversity of a particular place, but can also be used to predict when a neighborhood will go through the process of gentrification, which is associated with the displacement of residents of a deprived area by an influx of a more affluent population.”

Cambridge researchers, with the help of colleagues from the University of Birmingham, Queen Mary University of London, and University College London, used data from over 35,000 users in over 40,000 venues from apps such as Foursquare and Twitter to analyze the over half million “check-ins” recorded in a ten-month period. With all of this data, the researchers were able to note patterns of diverse social gatherings in different regions. Specifically, they were able to measure if places attracted “diverse individuals” or “regulars”. When their analysis was compared to “wellbeing indicators” for London neighborhoods, they discovered that areas with more diverse visitors correlated to lower crime rates and rising house prices. Ultimately, signs of gentrification. Moreover, they found that areas which attracted “regulars” were either very wealthy or very poor areas, whereas areas with diverse visitors showed signs of undergoing gentrification.

This research was reasoned with the historical progress of most of these neighbors where they found that affluent neighbors tend to remain affluent and poor neighborhoods tend to remain poor because of the cohesive and close population and the fact that the resources stay close within the community.

I thought that this article was extremely interesting because these researchers have been able to use this idea of networking and the social interactions between people to predict something that seemed so convoluted to me. This speaks both to our generation’s progress with technology and social media but also to our ability to use this to solve larger world problems and investigate complex issues. As mentioned in the article, this could be an extremely useful tool for governors and policy makers by allowing them to improve urban development plans and alleviate the negative effects of gentrification while benefiting from economic growth.

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