research teams MEDIA

Feasibility study on analytical tools based on Big Data project

The Medias and territories CIST strand won ESPON call for tender “Tools (2011-2014) – Feasibility study on analytical tools based on Big Data” to be completed in 2014.

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We intend to provide a specialised expertise on big data, notably the ones coming from Web 2.0 (O’Reilly, 2005) related to territorial data and information. We will identify available datasets and propose a concrete and operational methodology to threat them in integration with traditional territorial datasets. Finally, we will provide draft recommendations for treating this kind of data.

illustration, Paul Butler, 2010, Visualizing Facebook Frienships

The purpose of the project is to assess the feasibility to use open source data, including the so-called “big data”, together with official (authoritative) data from ESPON and other statistical institutes (in particular EUROSTAT) in European territorial analysis. The target audience is identified as all policy makers, researchers and stakeholders interested in ESPON results. The results of the current service contract should therefore contribute to the general objective of the ESPON programme.

The proposal intends to fulfill four fundamental tasks:

  • Assess what types of data can bring an added value in providing an up-to-date and near real-time evidence on specific territorial development trends in European territorial analysis. To do this, we need to:
  1. Specify some key concepts related to this kind of data, by distinguishing the partially overlapping concepts of “big data”, “open data” and “social media data”. We will use the alternative definition of “soft data”.
  2. Focus on data that provide territorial information: not only geographic information systems and geo-referenced data, but foremost other kinds of soft data related that provide territorial information.
  3. Focus on the feasibility of finding data in Europe at the level of regions and cities.
  • Define a clear and practical methodology for retrieving, collecting and analysing this data that present some important differences of traditional data. We will pay special attention to the integration of this data into ESPON analysis.
  • Provide two practical examples on selected topics of ESPON interest (defined in cooperation with ESPON). In these examples, we will both show the advantages of the proposed methodology and underline issues that can be encountered (with possible solutions). We offer to focus precisely on urban data at different scales (inter-urban and intra-urban) and by means of two types of “soft data”: RSS flows on the one hand and social media on the other.
  • Provide draft recommendations on how these soft data can be integrated in the ESPON programme.