blog | 29.09.2014 | Mark Livingston

Urban life captured through survey, sensors and multimedia

Integrated Multimedia City Data (iMCD) is one of the Urban Big Data Centre’s inaugural projects. Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, the project is designed to provide the UBDC with innovative primary data sources, the combination of which has never before been collected.

There are four interconnected research strands for the iMCD project:

  1. A representative household survey;
  2. Tracking of real-time urban sensors;
  3. Internet based visual media collection and
  4. Internet based textual media collection.

The core research strand is a representative household survey which will collect data on Attitudes, Values, Behaviours and Literacy across a number of topic areas, including transport, sustainability, learning and ICT. The survey will sample from the Glasgow and Clyde Valley planning area (Glasgow City Council and its contiguous Local Authority) and cover topics such as demographic information, values and attitudes, environmental literacy and sustainable behavior, ICT use and privacy preferences to name a selection. 

Furthermore, a subsample of the survey respondents will also be asked to carry GPS and life logging sensors (taking pictures at regular intervals) and also to complete a complex travel diary. These sensors will provide a rich source of data on the individual’s travel and activities immediately after taking part in the survey.

In the period before, during, and after the survey, computer scientists are also going to collect a range of data from the internet, sources both visual and textual. Project team members will gather visual data published on the web, which refers to Glasgow and the surrounding area. This will include images as well as video data from a variety of sources such as Twitter, Facebook and media sources including the BBC, ITV and other local outlets. Simultaneously, the project team will gather textual data on the internet by crawling both Twitter and Facebook feeds, various Glasgow City websites such as BBC UK, STV, Traffic Scotland and Scotland Air Quality, as well as newspaper and other textual feeds. This data will be analysed for events and patterns of interest to the city.

Never before has this level of contextual data been gathered while a major representative household survey is taking place. The data collected will provide enormous opportunities for social scientists wanting to understand the complexity of decision-making in the areas covered by the survey and the possible influences of contextual factors. The data will also provide considerable opportunities for more innovative research using the variety of media collected.

There are numerous practical and ethical issues in both collecting the data and making it available to as many users as possible, but it is the aim of the Urban Big Data Centre to have it publicly accessible by the end of 2015. If you are interested in using the data or knowing more about the project, please contact Mark Livingston, iMCD Programme Manager.

iMCD Project Team 

Piyushimita (Vonu) Thakuriah, Director, Urban Big Data Centre, University of Glasgow  

Michael Osborne, Professor, Chair of Adult and Lifelong Education, University of Glasgow

Gwilym Pryce, Director of Sheffields Methods Institute, University of Sheffield 

Zhenhong Li, Professor, Civil Engineering and Geosciences, University of Newcastle 

Jinhyun Hong, Lecturer, Urban Studies, University of Glasgow

Mark Livingston, iMCD Programme Manager, Urban Big Data Centre, University of Glasgow

Iadh Ounis, Reader, Computing Science, University of Glasgow

Joemon Jose, Professor, Computing Science, University of Glasgow 

Craig Macdonald, Research Fellow, Computing Science, University of Glasgow

Catherine Lido, Research Associate, University of Glasgow

Soumyadeb Chowdhury, Post-Doctoral Researcher, University of Glasgow

Md Sadek Ferdous, Post-Doctoral Researcher, University of Glasgow 

Nut Limsopatham, Post-Doctoral Researcher, University of Glasgow 

Marie Bocquentine, Project Intern

Mark Livingston

Mark is a social scientist with over 12 years post doctoral experience working both in public health and urban studies. Currently, he is the Programme Manager for the Integrated Multimedia City Data (iMCD) research project.

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