Accepted Papers

Discovering latent patterns of urban cultural interactions in WeChat for modern city planning

Xiao Zhou (University of Cambridge); Anastasios Noulas (Center for Data Science New York University); Cecilia Mascolo (University of Cambridge); Zhongxiang Zhao (Tencent Corporation, Shenzhen, China)

Cultural activity is an inherent aspect of urban life and the success of a modern city is largely determined by its capacity to offer generous cultural entertainment to its citizens. To this end, the optimal allocation of cultural establishments and related resources across urban regions becomes of vital importance, as it can reduce financial costs in terms of planning and improve quality of life in the city, more generally. In this paper, we make use of a large longitudinal dataset of user location check-ins from the online social network WeChat to develop a data-driven framework for cultural planning in the city of Beijing. We exploit rich spatio-temporal representations on user activity at cultural venues and use a novel extended version of the traditional latent Dirichlet allocation model that incorporates temporal information to identify latent patterns of urban cultural interactions. Using the characteristic typologies of mobile user cultural activities emitted by the model, we determine the levels of demand for different types of cultural resources across urban areas. We then compare those with the corresponding levels of supply as driven by the presence and spatial reach of cultural venues in local areas to obtain high resolution maps that indicate urban regions with lack of cultural resources, and thus give suggestions for further urban cultural planning and investment optimisation.

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