Mapping the Brisbane G20 Leaders’ Summit
In mid-November 2014, Brisbane will play host to the 2014 G20 Leaders’ Summit. Over the course of the summit, in its lead-up, and in its aftermath, the Social Media Research Group will be mapping the social media activity (Twitter and Instagram) that surrounds the event. In particular, we will be geo-mapping Brisbane-based, G20-related social media activity onto an interactive map of the city.
The summit, which takes place over the weekend of 15 and 16 November, will potentially be highly disruptive to those living and/or working within the declared and restricted areas that cover most of Brisbane’s CBD. Even leaving aside the possibility of Brisbane witnessing the kind of dramatic protest action that accompanied the 2009 and 2010 G20 Summits in London and Toronto, the Queensland Police Service has advised that Brisbane residents and travellers to Brisbane should, at the very least, expect disruption to public transport, roads, and parking in the CBD and South Bank area. In mapping the social media activity surrounding the G20, we aim to see how and, importantly, where discussions and debates about mobility, accessibility, safety, and security in and across the city are played out.
The Brisbane G20 social media map, which will go live on 13 November, will show public tweets and instagram photos related to the G20 and its dominant and emergent hashtags. The map will show geotweets (i.e., that very small percentage of tweets that contain embedded coordinates) as well as geotagged Instagram photos (which run at a much greater percentage of the whole, when compared with Twitter). Usernames will be removed, but the tweet contents and images will be able to be viewed on the map. We will also use a process known as geoparsing to identify latent locational information in the text of G20-related tweets and to assign coordinates to them if they match locations within the declared and restricted areas.
#colourmebrisbane: mapping the G20 Cultural Celebrations
We have tested this process in creating a social media map related to Colour Me Brisbane, one of the G20 Cultural Celebration events run in the lead-up to the Leaders’ Summit. Colour Me Brisbane, which ran every night from 24 October to 9 November, was a series of interactive light and projection installations set up at a number of iconic locations across the Brisbane CBD, including Parliament House, the convict-era Commissariat Store, City Hall, and the South Bank cultural precinct. Residents and tourists were encouraged to follow a Colour Me Brisbane trail around the city, which would take them to each location, and were encouraged to share their experience of the city via social media.
We tracked Twitter and Instagram activity tagged with the official #colourmebrisbane hashtag over the course of the Cultural Celebrations. From 23 October to 9 November, 324 tweets were tagged #colourmebrisbane. Of these, 32 (or 10%) were geotagged (i.e., had embedded coordinates). Geoparsing the remaining 292 tweets using a custom-built gazetteer of the G20 declared area returned a further 94 geo-locatable tweets, meaning that we ended up with 126 #colourmebrisbane tweets (or 39% of the total) that could be placed on a map of the Brisbane CBD. In comparison, the percentage of geotagged #colourmebrisbane Instagram photos was much higher. Of 1794 #colourmebrisbane tagged Instagram photos posted between 23 October and 9 November, 801 (or 45%) were geotagged. In total, we were able to map 44% of the total number of tweets and Instagram photos tagged with #colourmebrisbane. The resulting map shows the clustering of social media activity around particular Colour Me Brisbane sites, particularly South Bank and Queen’s Park/the Treasury Casino and Hotel on either side of the Brisbane River.
A note on viewing the map: The #colourmebrisbane map is an intensity map, meaning that the locations that appear the most (as geotags or place mentions) are darker coloured than those with fewer mentions or geotags. Where multiple tweets or Instagram images are layered on the same set of coordinates, only the most recent tweet or image assigned to a specific set of coordinates will be viewable as it will be sitting ‘on top’ of previous tweets and images assigned to those coordinates. In other words, the topmost tweet or image on a given set of coordinates will obscure earlier tweets and images assigned to the same coordinates; however, the intensity of the placemarker hue at those coordinates will indicate the density of tweets and images related to that location.
As an extension to the G20 social media mapping project, we have developed a simple user interface to visualise the Twitter data collected and create a conversation around what it means to be the most talked about country at the event.
This interface, the G20 Hypometer, is a virtual live score card especially developed to measure Twitter conversation about the G20 Leader’s Summit and participating countries.
The technology is a simplified adaption of the original Hypometer, which was developed to measure ‘hype’ for upcoming shows on Australian television, and the Big Brother Hypometer, which measures pure volume of conversation around housemates.
In our first test of a non-television event for the Hypometer technology, we are tracking the real-time conversation around #G20 (and other unofficial hashtags being used) and the leaders and countries mentioned within that data to give us a running total of G20 interactions for each country. It will also be able to tell the user the daily numbers for each country, overall conversation around the official and unofficial hashtags, and identify emerging ‘trending’ topics during the event.