Geolocated social networks

Geolocated social networks

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.

The main characteristic of a geolocated social network is the interaction of users by proximity and not by their private sphere.

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.

The main objective of FirstLife is to facilitate communication between the public administration and citizens, as well as the interactions created by the citizens themselves. It is essential to focus on them as principal actors.

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.

Different screenshots of the FirstLife application, showing how you can establish properties to the points of interest, which provide more information, as well as encourage interactions with surveys, comments, and even intelligent contracts for agreements.

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.)

At FirstLife you can define the scope of the points of interest to filter and improve the interaction between users. It even allows dividing by areas to facilitate coordination.
The information can be provided by the user, as well as by mechanisms of the application that allow using the device as a source of information/sensor.

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.

FirstLife is not a static tool. A wide range of options must be configured in its implementation. In addition, it has different functions that must be determined in the implementation stages to include optional modules. That is why it is important to prepare different meetings and workshops with the stakeholders to complete 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 user model is composed of data such as relationships the user has with tasks, user type (individual, group, administration...) with their corresponding permissions or rules. These rules define the permissions of what resources the user can manage and what interactions you can have with other users.

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.

(a): The model contains the physical data about the place where the service is offered.
(b): It may also contain a representation of news and events with the specific characteristics required, such as means of payment or intelligent contracts.
(c): The model allows the definition of rules and attributes of collaboration between groups. Being able to create virtual units in which you can assign tasks.
The entity model is more complicated since it represents the elements that are created and exist in FirstLife, so they have a significant number of properties and characteristics, some of which are indicated in the subfigures (a.,b,c).

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