BBVA uses big data to redraw city maps

BBVA uses big data to redraw city maps

BBVA is using commercial card data to redraw the maps of urban areas based on the purchasing patterns and movements of consumers as they criss-cross the city landscape.

The project developed by BBVA Data & Analytics analysed more than 413 million card transactions throughout the year to get an up-to-the-minute perspective on the dynamics taking place in the cities of Madrid, Barcelona and Mexico City. The analysis has led to the creation of new maps that redraw urban borders and identify the most touristic and residential areas or those where young people go shopping.

The results can be viewed via a new tool on an interactive display of the data - dubbed Urban Discovery - developed in collaboration with data mapping outfit Carto.

Juan Murillo, head of territorial analysis at BBVA & Analytics, says: “Data science allows us to better understand the dynamics in these cities, examine how citizens are using them according to their lifestyle, and describe each area’s specialisation, patterns and predominant activities."

In the first section, Urban Discovery shows how citizens - both residents and visitors - move around the city to make their purchases. After dividing cities into small hexagonal cells, the study analysed where consecutive purchases were made by the same customers within a three hour time period.

The second section redraws the urban map into six zones: center/downtown, affluent neighborhood, working-class neighborhood, business district, new development and places where consumer spending is associated with shopping centers.

“These tags are interesting because apart from classifying all the communities, the same criteria were applied to all three cities included in the study. This allows us to find areas with similar characteristics in Madrid, Barcelona and Mexico City,” adds Murillo.

Users are encouraged to play around with the data, add their own tags, and create their own personalised maps to better navigate the urban environment. For instance, they may use the tool to look for a neighborhood that’s similar to the one they currently live in if they are planning on moving from one city to the other, or to find the right area to open a business.

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