Urban Activity Explorer: Visual Analytics and Planning Support Systems

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Published in: Planning Support Science for Smarter Urban Futures , 2017.


Urban Activity Explorer is a new prototype for a planning support system that uses visual analytics to understand mobile social media data. Mobile social media data are growing at an astounding rate and have been studied from a variety of perspectives. Our system consists of linked visualizations that include temporal , spatial and topical data, and is well suited for exploring multiple scenarios. It allows a wide latitude for exploration, verification and knowledge generation as a central feature of the system. For this work, we used a database of approximately 1,000,000 geolocated tweets over a two-month period in Los Angeles. Urban Activity Explorer’s usage of visual analytic principles is uniquely suited to address the issues of inflexibility in data systems that led to planning support systems. We demonstrate that mobile social media can be a valuable and complementary source of information about the city.