Can Social Media Find the Next Hot 'Hood?

Can Social Media Find the Next Hot 'Hood?

There are many ways to keep abreast of changes in neighborhoods as you're hoping to find the next hidden gem, and researchers in Britain say they have found a new one: activity on social media.

Instead of driving around looking for activity or eavesdropping at Starbucks, according to a team at the University of Cambridge, monitoring posts on Twitter and check-ins on Foursquare offers a reliable way to see where "social diversity" is pointing to an increase in a neighborhood's popularity.

The researchers took data from about 37,000 users and 42,000 venues in London, totaling more than half a million check-ins over a 10-month period. Gathered first in 2010, the data was sufficient to predict that London's Hackney district would gentrify. Four other districts, also predicted by the change in data between 2010 and 2015, are now seeing what the research team calls "house prices rising far above the London average, fast-decreasing crime rate and a highly diverse population."

An Engadget article explained, "If many people start visiting unfamiliar locations in materially-deprived neighborhoods (say, trendy new restaurants) with their friends, that's usually a good sign that these areas will be gentrified before long. Accordingly, places that are dominated by locals and regulars tend to resist that shift, no matter the income levels."

The research team points to multiple benefits of its study: Tourists could enjoy a very local experience or prefer an area where people meet and mingle, while cities could plan growth in a way that improves real estate values across the neighborhoods while keeping longtime locals in place.

Source: "You can predict city gentrification through check-ins and tweets," Engadget.com (April 16, 2016)

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