The data-based approach can offer interesting insight into the daily and weekly rhythms of use of space as well as the meanings people attach to particular urban spaces. In such analysis, location-based data sets work as an invisible treasure of data and meta-data produced directly by the urban population, including visitors.
In this explorative study on Turku we presented just a few possible uses of this data. Activity patterns are studied by mapping a variety of human activities at ground level, correlated with the way people use the urban space. In addition, the study describes the interaction between different uses during specific periods of time. With location-based data, we gain deeper first-person insight into the local area, without being too intrusive or developing an ad-hoc data- harvesting programme. This way, we can apply our methods and knowledge to the unique context of, in this case, the city centre of Turku.
The opening of new shopping malls at the outskirts of the city may be convenient for some. At the same time, these new urban areas lack the complexity and variety that the centre can offer.
The new malls have attracted large part of commercial activities and significantly reduced the commercial real estate value in the city centre. What we found in our study, however, is that the city centre is still the main hub for social life, and has therefore the highest potential for intervention, and for social and commercial development.