Digital neighborhoods

Luc Anselin, Sarah Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


With the advent of ‘big data’ there is an increased interest in using social media to describe city dynamics. This paper employs geo-located social media data to identify ‘digital neighborhoods’ – those areas in the city where social media is used more often. Starting with geo-located Twitter and Foursquare data for the New York City region in 2014, we applied spatial clustering techniques to detect significant groupings or ‘neighborhoods’ where social media use is high or low. The results show that beyond the business districts, digital neighborhoods occur in communities undergoing shifting socio-demographics. Neighborhoods that are not digitally oriented tend to have higher proportion of minorities and lower incomes, highlighting a social–economic divide in how social media is used in the city. Understanding the differences in these neighborhoods can help city planners interested in generating economic development proposals, civic engagement strategies, and urban design ideas that target these areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)305-328
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Urbanism
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • big data
  • digital divide
  • geographical information system (GIS)
  • neighborhoods
  • social media
  • spatial analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Urban Studies


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