Tweets in London

Many Twitter messages, or “tweets”, are sent with latitude/longitude information, allowing an insight into the places where the most amount of tweeting happens. For a magazine article, I produced the above map of London, with help from a colleague Steven Gray, who collected the data across several weeks using some technologies he has developed. It is a heatmap of sorts, with particular locations where the level of tweets are very high. The data is collected in a 30km radius around central London.

London’s city centre stands out, as would be expected, as well as a distinctive streak of tweets heading directly north – an arm of London where the typical Twitter demographic – young and connected – makes up a particularly high proportion of people living there. Other features – such as along a road in the North West that suffered severe roadworks during the collection period, the A13/Eurostar travel line running along estuarine Essex, and the runways of Heathrow Airport, also appear. It’s also interesting to see how large parts of surburban London are “empty” of tweets.

Further detail on Steven’s Big Data Toolkit blog.

The map contains data which is CC-By-SA OpenStreetMap and contributors (the River Thames) and which is Crown Copyright Ordnance Survey (OpenData) 2011.


  1. I’m prepared to bet that the red hotspots in the suburbs are secondary schools.

    How can we test this hypothesis?

  2. Interesting hypothesis, Nile! I’ve looked at some of the hotspots out there in suburban London, and they are generally town centres – there are a lot in London. Other clusters appear to be around some train stations and retail parks. The resolution of the data is a little poor – and we didn’t collect sufficient data – to be able to definitely assign clusters to schools in the area. If we collected the data over a much longer period, there may well be enough geolocated twitter activity (which is typically only ~2-5% of tweets, and we don’t have access to all Twitter tweets) in these particular places, for them to appear.

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