A tale of cities: Urban biases in volunteered geographic information

Brent Hecht*, Monica Stephens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

104 Scopus citations

Abstract

Geotagged tweets, Foursquare check-ins and other forms of volunteered geographic information (VGI) play a critical role in numerous studies and a large range of intelligent technologies. We show that three of the most commonly used sources of VGI - Twitter, Flickr, and Foursquare - are biased towards urban perspectives at the expense of rural ones. Utilizing a geostatistics-based approach, we demonstrate that, on a per capita basis, these important VGI datasets have more users, more information, and higher quality information within metropolitan areas than outside of them. VGI is a subset of user-generated content (UGC) and we discuss how our results suggest that urban biases might exist in non-geographically referenced UGC as well. Finally, because Foursquare is exclusively made up of VGI, we argue that Foursquare (and possibly other location-based social networks) has fundamentally failed to appeal to rural populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 8th International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media, ICWSM 2014
PublisherThe AAAI Press
Pages197-205
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781577356578
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014
Event8th International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media, ICWSM 2014 - Ann Arbor, United States
Duration: Jun 1 2014Jun 4 2014

Other

Other8th International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media, ICWSM 2014
CountryUnited States
CityAnn Arbor
Period6/1/146/4/14

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Networks and Communications

Cite this

Hecht, B., & Stephens, M. (2014). A tale of cities: Urban biases in volunteered geographic information. In Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media, ICWSM 2014 (pp. 197-205). The AAAI Press.