Remote sensing and social sensing for socioeconomic systems: A comparison study between nighttime lights and location-based social media at the 500 m spatial resolution

Naizhuo Zhao, Guofeng Cao, Wei Zhang, Eric L. Samson, Yong Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

With the advent of “social sensing” in the Big Data era, location-based social media (LBSM) data are increasingly used to explore anthropogenic activities and their impacts on the environment. This study converts a typical kind of LBSM data, geo-tagged tweets, into raster images at the 500 m spatial resolution and compares them with the new generation nighttime lights (NTL) image products, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) Day/Night Band (DNB) monthly image composites. The results show that the monthly tweet images are significantly correlated with the VIIRS-DNB images at the pixel level. The tweet images have nearly the same ability on estimating electric power consumption and better performance on assessing personal incomes and population than the NTL images. Tweeted areas (i.e. the pixels with at least one posted tweet) are closer to satellite-derived built-up/urban areas than lit areas in NTL imagery, making tweet images an alternative to delimit extents of human activities. Moreover, the monthly tweet images do not show apparent seasonal changes, and the values of tweet images are more stable across different months than VIIRS-DNB monthly image composites. This study explores the potential of LBSM data at relatively fine spatiotemporal resolutions to estimate or map socioeconomic factors as an alternative to NTL images in the United States.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102058
JournalInternational Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation
Volume87
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2020

Keywords

  • Geo-tagged tweets
  • Nighttime lights imagery
  • Social sensing
  • Socioeconomic factors

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