Next Generation Cognitive Mapping

The Urban Design Lab’s cognitive mapping project is part of a sequence exploring how the social media revolution is producing a new generation of urban design and planning tools that augment the reading of urban public space and management of next generation distributed urban infrastructure. Deployment of social data analytics has the potential for real-time understanding of the occupation characteristics of public space; from real-time configurations of occupation densities to detailed understanding of diverse cognitive factors related to the users. While there is a long history of “mental mapping” relative to urban fabric, the present social media revolution promises to significantly expand representative techniques, with new cognitive mapping tools that are more robust than any of the normative means now in common practice. In this research a crowd sourced platform is analyzed for definition of public space usage.

Several stages of analysis have documented Twitter messages and public usage patterns in three principal public parks in Manhattan. Natural language processing techniques are deployed to obtain measures of user characteristics through analysis of  topics and their related sentiment. The next phase of this exploration will correlate mapping patterns with other factors that can determine potential planning and spatial design strategies.