Modelling the city in dialogue with new social media and modes of travel behaviour

Antònia Casellas, Itzhak Omer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Social and economic interactions between people are a crucial property of cities. These interactions create the conditions for groupings of individuals in social and functional areas within the city. Accordingly, urban models describe and explain the dynamics of residential and non-residential land-use patterns, movement flows, and the relationships between them. However, new social media and digital social networks (DSN) linked to the use of information and communications technology (ICT) and new travel behaviour patterns are calling into questioning traditional models and definitions of what characterises a city. The goal of this chapter is to explore how these new DSN and ICT tools relate to urban models and their potential contribution for urban modelling, i.e., the design process of urban models. To this end, we examine how the meaning of the city and urban models are called into question or advanced when placed in a dialogue with DSN and new mobility patterns, and how this process could affect urban comparative and policy analysis. We suggest that DSN can enhance urban modelling, not only as a source of data but should be integral part of them. This is so because DSN not only tell us how and when individuals use urban spaces; they themselves affect how and when individuals use urban spaces. In its conclusion, the chapter highlights the implications of ICT data, particularly social-media and DSN data, on some aspects of city’s dynamics. Determining how the use of social media and digital social networks (DSNs) influences the definition of a city is a necessary inquiry, from both academic and policy perspectives. This chapter focuses on the challenges of finding a definition of city that allows comparative studies and guides cross-national urban policies. It draws on the efforts of the European Union. The chapter addresses how urban models can be designed and applied in dialogue with social networks and new mobility patterns. It presents the development of cities and urban modelling approaches, and discusses the relevance and potential of a DSN for urban modelling. In contrast to “conventional” or “traditional” social and functional data, collected by survey and census, a DSN provides objective and subjective data on various social and functional activities, travel behaviour and daily space-time movement at different times and spaces, providing great potential for urban research and modelling.
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationDigital Social Networks and Travel Behaviour in Urban Environments
EditorsPnina O. Plaut, Dalit Shach-Pinsly
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)0429488718, 0429949723, 9780429949715, 9780429488719, 9780429949739, 0429949731, 9780429949722, 0429949715
StatePublished - 2019


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