What Foursquare can teach us about how people use a city.

What can Foursquare tell us about the modern neighborhood? That's the question being asked by Livehoods, a new project from the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. The project maps 18 million check-ins to determine what places get visited by the same people. As the creators explain on the site, "if many of the same people check-in to two nearby locations, then these locations will likely be part of the same Livehood."

The site's founders explain their thinking behind the program:

Like neighborhoods, Livehoods are a representation of the organizational structure of the city. However, Livehoods are different from neighborhoods. They give us an on-the-ground view of a city's structure, helping us reconceptualize the dynamics of a city based on the way people actually use it.

With Livehoods, we can investigate and explore the factors that come together to shape the social dynamics of a city, including municipal borders, demographics, economic development, resources, geography, and architecture. We think Livehoods are useful for city governments, local organizations, businesses, and anyone looking to learn more about a city.

So far, they've mapped New York, San Francisco and Pittsburgh (the map you see above) and they are working on other maps.

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