Thursday, November 08, 2018

Refugee Camps and Volunteered Geographical Information

Fig. 7. Stimulus-Awareness-Activism (SA2) framework
Previously we have posted on how one can use new sources of data  (e.g. Volunteered Geographical Information) to explore and understand the world around us, such as mass migration, urban form and function, or be used for the basis of a model. Continuing on with this research theme we recently had a paper published in PLoS ONE entitled: "News Coverage, Digital Activism, and Geographical Saliency: A Case Study of Refugee Camps and Volunteered Geographical Information."

In this paper we explore the relationship between news coverage (via Google news), search trends (via Google trends) and user edit contribution patterns in OpenStreetMap and  Wikipedia for refugee camps from around the world. Specifically we are interested in how news media coverage (and in particular digital media) impacts digital activism (i.e.  volunteers who contribute content to online communities). Based on our analysis we find that digital activism bursts tend to take place during periods of sustained build-up of public awareness deficit or surplus.

These findings are in line with two prominent mass communication theories: agenda setting and corrective action, and suggest the emergence of a novel Stimulus-Awareness-Activism (SA2) framework in today’s participatory digital age. We argue that this paper brings us one step closer to understanding the underlying mechanisms that drive digital activism in particular in the geospatial domain. Below you can read the abstract of the paper, see the refugee camps we studied and some of the results. At the bottom of the post we also provide the full reference and a link to the paper.

Abstract:
The last several decades have witnessed a shift in the way in which news is delivered and consumed by users. With the growth and advancements in mobile technologies, the Internet, and Web 2.0 technologies users are not only consumers of news, but also producers of online content. This has resulted in a novel and highly participatory cyber-physical news awareness ecosystem that fosters digital activism, in which volunteers contribute content to online communities. While studies have examined the various components of this news awareness ecosystem, little is still known about how news media coverage (and in particular digital media) impacts digital activism. In order to address this challenge and develop a greater understanding of it, this paper focuses on a specific form of digital activism, that of the production of digital geographical content through crowdsourcing efforts. Using refugee camps from around the world as a case study, we examine the relationship between news coverage (via Google news), search trends (via Google trends) and user edit contribution patterns in OpenStreetMap, a prominent geospatial data crowdsourcing platform. In addition, we compare and contrast these patterns with user edit patterns in Wikipedia, a well-known non-geospatial crowdsourcing platform. Using Google news and Google trends to derive a measure of thematic public awareness, our findings indicate that digital activism bursts tend to take place during periods of sustained build-up of public awareness deficit or surplus. These findings are in line with two prominent mass communication theories: agenda setting and corrective action, and suggest the emergence of a novel stimulus-awareness-activism framework in today’s participatory digital age. Moreover, these findings further complement existing research examining the motivational factors that drive users to contribute to online collaborative communities. This paper brings us one step closer to understanding the underlying mechanisms that drive digital activism in particular in the geospatial domain.

Figure 1. Study areas  (centroid location of camp).

Figure 5. OSM, Wikipedia, Google News, and Google Trends time series during a -/+4 months period around the strongest extremum point of each camp. The figures show that whereas OSM and Wikipedia entries tend to come in bursts, Google News and Trends display a more sustained type of activity.

Figure 6. The public awareness curve versus the cumulative OSM and Wikipedia edit activity during a -/+4 months period around the strongest extremum point of each camp. For camps such as Nyarugusu, OSM and Wikipedia bursts overlap with public awareness surplus. In other camps, such as Bidibidi, OSM edit activity bursts coincide with public awareness deficit.  

Full Reference: 
Mahabir, R., Croitoru, A., Crooks, A.T., Agouris, P. and Stefanidis, A. (2018), News Coverage, Digital Activism, and Geographical Saliency: A Case Study of Refugee Camps and Volunteered Geographical Information, PLoS ONE, 13(11): e0206825.   https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0206825 (pdf)

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

ABM platform developers from CoMSES 2018

There are many reviews of agent-based modeling platforms (e.g. Abar et al., 2017; Kravari and Bassiliades, 2015; Castle and Crooks, 2006) but rarely do you see movies  describing how such platforms have developed or where they are heading. Recently CoMSES Net (home of many great resources for agent-based modeling) held their second virtual conference: CoMSES 2018. During this virtual conference, the were presentations from Repast, Cormas and MESA to name but a few and I thought theese were worth sharing. If you click on the links below your can go directly to their threads (discussion) on from the conference.

Repast:
 

Cormas:


Mesa:


On a slightly different note, I just came across a series of podcasts by Jacob Ingalls and Benjamin Schumann (http://brokenjars.xyz/simtalk/) who have interviewed a number of practitioners carrying out simulation modeling including the CEO of AnyLogic. Similar to the movies above, these podcasts provide a different way of learning more about simulations.