Up-and-Coming or Down-and-Out?

Social Media Popularity as an Indicator of Neighborhood Change

Director of Civic Analytics, Constantine Kontokosta, Columbia Researcher Lance Freeman, and MIT Researcher Yuan Lai have published “Up-and-Coming or Down-and-Out? Social Media Popularity as an Indicator of Neighborhood Change,” in the Journal of Education Planning and Research. This study uses data from more than 13 million tweets in New York City between 2010 and 2017 to develop a Neighborhood Popularity Index (NPI) as a leading indicator of neighborhood change. The goal is to create a new tool for planners and housing advocates that provides a more timely and localized measure of gentrification. The authors conclude:

This work contributes to the growing body of evidence illustrating the myriad ways social media data could be used to understand neighborhood change, among other urban planning-related phenomena. The increasing global adoption of social media suggests that these data will continue to provide a significant source of granular information on human mobility, behavior, and sentiment. The NPI presented here provides one such indicator to provide planners with additional evidence to support policy decisions and to mitigate the potential negative effects of rapid neighborhood change. The utility of these data sources makes it all the more imperative for urban planners to fully participate in the beginning debates over the way social media data will be collected and curated, ensuring that data can be used widely in the public interest.

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