Using social media to assess spatial and temporal patterns of use: Investigating what makes a cities identity

Mr Jesse Raneng1

1Griffith University, City of Gold Coast , Australia


A main concern of rapid urbanisation is the need to accommodate for growth throughout urban areas. With a growing population, it is important for social planners to distinguish new engagement methods that can create a sense of place. Assessing values may appear to have fewer tangible outcomes to some, however, cultural view, and familiarity within a space, can assist in establishing a cities identity.

Engagement with the public is usually achieved by harnessing traditional methods, moreover, these instruments can be subjected to an unintentional bias. Utilising user-created content from social media data can be a complementary information source providing human geographers with insights.

The City of Gold Coast, Queensland is home to remarkable beaches, hinterland ranges, and open spaces. The location is experiencing a large population growth, resulting in sprawling development encroaching into landscapes.

This research aims to investigate whether a cities identity can be harnessed using user-created content from a popular social media interface Flickr. This platform was utilised for extracting images and their metadata within the geographic boundaries of the City of Gold Coast.  A data-set of 43 thousand images and their geo-location attributes where examined to assist with learning lessons about city identify and sense of place.


Creating sustainable spaces inspired Jesse Raneng to study a Bachelor of Urban and Environmental Planning with Honours. With an additional interest in how data can interpret how we use our public spaces, Raneng also enjoyed the chance to work with Professor Catherine Pickering and Montannia Chabau-Gibson on extracting big data from social media to investigate how people value parks and open space at the Gold Coast Spit. These findings was presented at the international conference on monitoring and management of visitors in recreational and protected areas in France.

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