Integrating social network data into GISystems

Clio Andris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Today, online social media outlets provide new and plentiful sources of data on social networks (SNs) and location-based social networks (LBSNs), i.e., geolocated evidence of connections between individuals. While SNs have been used to show how the magnitude of social connectivity decreases with distance, there are few examples of how to include SNs as layers in a GISystem. If SNs, and thus, interpersonal relationships, could be analyzed in a geographic information system (GIS) setting, we could better model how humans socialize, share information, and form social groups within the complex geographic landscape. Our goal is to facilitate a guide for analyzing SNs (as derived from online social media, telecommunications, surveys, etc.) within geographic space by combining the mature fields of social network analysis (SNA) and GISystems. First, we describe why modeling socialization in geographic space is essential for understanding human behavior. We then outline best practices and techniques for embedding SN nodes and edges in GISystems by introducing terms like ‘social flow’ and ‘anthrospace’, and categorizations for data and spatial aggregation types. Finally, we explore case study vignettes of SNA within GISystems from diverse regions located in Bolivia, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States, using concepts such as geolocated dyads, ego–alter relationships, node feature roles, modularity, and network transitivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2009-2031
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Geographical Information Science
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Information Systems
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Library and Information Sciences


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