Saturday, March 02, 2019

The Inequality Atlas

The Atlas of Inequality is a new interactive map which shows the income inequality of customers who visit stores and establishments in the Boston metro area. The map shows the place inequality score of each establishment. This score shows how unequal the store's customer's incomes are.

The atlas reveals some interesting patterns as to which type of establishment are most equal and which are most unequal in Boston. It also reveals which neighborhoods in the city have the least economically segregated establishments and which neighborhood's establishments are most economically segregated.

Working out the socioeconomic background of visitors to each establishment takes a lot of work analyzing customer mobile phone location data. The Atlas of Inequality uses anonymous location data from mobile phones to determine the number of people who visit establishments. It then explores the socioeconomic background of these visitors to give each store and establishment a place inequality score.

The stores and coffee shop location data used in the Atlas of Inequality comes from the Foursquare API. The anonymous visitor data comes from Cuebiq. Using Cuebiq's location data the Atlas of Inequality sees where visitors spend more than 5 minutes and if the location equates to a Four Square listed location. If you select a place's marker on  the map you can view the number of people from each socioeconomic group who frequent the location.

The socioeconomic background of visitors is determined by seeing which census block they most commonly spend time in between 8:00 pm and 4:00 am. This is assumed to be a person's home address. MIT then use the median household income of the census block group, as determined by the 5-year American Community Survey for 2012-2016, to decide the person's socioeconomic background.

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