As final part of his master programme ‘Geo-information Science’ (MGI), Wageningen University student Sander van der Drift graduated on his major thesis research ‘using social media data to analyse the way tourists use the city of Amsterdam.’ This research was marked with a 9, awarded with a certificate of the Advanced Metropolitan Solutions (AMS) programme and also presented to the municipality of Amsterdam.
Sander used close to 3 million photos from social media platform Flickr to analyse this and created visualisations that gave insight in temporal distributions, spatial clusters and popular routes of tourists in Amsterdam. For this research, he selected the photos located in the municipality of Amsterdam and he was able to select the photos of tourists. An existing grid-based clustering method was implemented and improved to explore Amsterdam’s spatial distribution of tourists in Google Earth. The major tourist hotspots are detected using the density-based clustering algorithm DBSCAN. Finally, the most probable routes of tourists between subsequent photo locations were estimated and aggregated into a route density map. By interviewing eight tourism experts of the municipality of Amsterdam, the study outcomes were validated. The overall conclusion was that the methods provide meaningful insight into the spatial and temporal patterns of tourists in urban spaces and are a valuable addition to traditional tourism surveys.
The thesis ‘revealing spatial and temporal patterns from Flickr photography; a case study with tourists in Amsterdam’ was granted with a 9 by Wageningen University tutors Arend Ligtenberg, Ron van Lammeren. Before his master program, Sander studied Architecture, Urbanism and Building Sciences at TU-Delft.