Social Media Participation in Urban Planning

Social media is generating a huge amount of data every second and this data can be used to make important decisions about any particular topic. This post is a short summary of a research paper titled as ‘SOCIAL MEDIA PARTICIPATION IN URBAN PLANNING: A NEW WAY TO INTERACT AND TAKE DECISIONS’ by E. López-Ornelas, R. Abascal-Mena, S. Zepeda-Hernández.

Textual analysis is performed on social media data to know the sentiments (opinions) of the people about any topic. This type of analysis is very important for organizations and institutions to make important decisions. In this paper they have used the installation of a new airport in Mexico City as a case of study to highlight the importance of conducting a study of this nature.

Urban Planning and Social Media:

Urban planning deals with efficient utilization of land and design of the urban environment including air and water infrastructure management. On the other hand social media and online web based communities are a great sources to collect public opinion about any topic. This paper studies different steps/phases to extract public opinion from social media (twitter) and analyse the public opinion about new airport in Maxico City.

Design Process For Information Extraction from Social Media:

This paper proposes a design process that will help urban planners to analyze all the information contained in social network. To extract and analyse social media data they proposed following four steps to be studied and applied:

  1. Structure Analysis: This analysis is used to know information generators, amount of available information and linkage between different information generators.
  2. Sentiment Analysis: It’s used to know the tendency of opinion about particular topic.
  3. Community Detection: It’s important to simplify the social network and to identify groups of users sharing same information.
  4. User Identification: It’s used to identify the users which are actually generating the information (opinion) about the topic.


This analysis shows that when the statement was made about the installation of new airport in Maxico City then there was a big concentration of opinions that were rejecting the project. New analysis was made after the 2 weeks of the announcement and results show that there were large number of opinions approving the project.

Future Work:

The authors of this paper used twitter data to extract public opinion. As a future work they proposed to analyse data from other social networking websites and then to compare the results from different social networking websites. This will also help to identify which social networking website generate better results.

Moreover to map the locations of participants will help us identify biased opinions and hence getting better results.


Social media can be used as a medium that support participatory process. It can be used in areas like urban planning to help make decisions based on the public opinion.


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