A “geo-social” network is a type of social network with the main characteristic of providing information based on the geographical location. This type of network allows interactions with a local dynamic, allowing users of an area to connect and interact by proximity.
FirstLife is a geolocated social network based on a virtual map for citizens created by the University of Turin (UNITO). It is a virtual space that facilitates the coordination of cooperation. The main actors are the citizens and the public administration.
Each actor can define the initial attributes of each task/element/point of interest, such as name, description, categories, tags. Those tasks can be enriched with comments, images, publications, surveys, and also with connections with other elements. First Life supports extended associations mechanisms for the defined tasks. Those associations can take the form of smart contracts conditioned to a specific objective and citizen.
Unlike other conventional social networks, interactions between people is generated by proximity in the neighborhood/city rather than a closed sphere of people. Also, users can create groups to manage coordination activities between the organizers and other people involved in the events (supporters, space owners, etc.), creating a real-time and collaborative event platform. It excludes personal content traditionally provided by the users, which is the main feature of the mainstream social networks. As a crowdsourcing platform, it allows the collection of information from users, integrating with heterogeneous data sources (open data, sensors, etc.)
To integrate FirstLife, an initial analysis of the requirements is conducted modeling the users and the organizations. This process is carried out in the different workshops establishing the user and entity model.
The user model contains the roles that the user performs at different networks. There is a professional network that includes tasks and working relationships starting from a neighborhood community to a regional level. The territorial network includes personal and political relations such as decision making, management of shared resources at a local level. And finally, the network of communities that include local groups to non-profit organizations.
Each of these networks has different capabilities according to the role assumed by the user when sharing information. The FirstLife project will include its user model within the Unified User Management (CO3UUM).
The entities are modeled in FirstLife based on the information they exchange. The entity model can contain different types of characteristics. For instance, it includes the location where the service is offered, which is established by associations, organizations, establishing POIS (points of interest).
Events that are public initiatives such as exhibitions, festivals can be created spontaneously without being included in other media. This can generate a calendar of events with a local scope if there is pro-active citizens’ participation.
News, providing news, announcements, stories of local interest, allows for constant reporting of events in the area, letting neighbors know what is happening around them. Finally, the groups, which allows the flexibility to create virtual units of self-coordinated people for the development of tasks. These groups can be coordinated with other existing groups.