Hyde Park visitors “covertly tracked” via mobile phone data

Hyde Park

 The Guardian reports that:

Visitors to Hyde Park, one of London’s most famous tourist spots, were covertly tracked via their mobile phone signals in a trial undertaken by the Royal Parks to analyse footfall amid drastic funding cuts. Officials were able to retrospectively locate park-goers for 12 months using anonymised mobile phone data provided by the network operator EE via a third party.

Oddly, the article doesn’t take quite the negative approach suggested by the headline (I inserted the quote marks around “covertly tracked” – they’re not there in the original headline), and the stuff about privacy appears to be inserted to make this less about an interesting way of understanding behaviour and more about an invasion of privacy.

But as the story says, the data was anonymised. It’s not exactly snooping – this type of data has been used in different forms for decades by advertisers, planners, supermarket merchandisers…

If the aim is to ensure that the world’s most frequently visited public park attracts people from all backgrounds, it sounds like an interesting use of anonymised data we could apply in many other scenarios, and a useful counter to the far less anonymous collection of data that goes on not just by government but by some of our most popular companies. Google and Facebook, I’m looking at you.

London selfies glummer, less tilted and more bespectacled, study finds

Londoners take more glum-faced selfies than residents of other world cities, according to a data project. Analysis of images uploaded publicly on to Instagram in September found that the London style of selfie-taking was one of a restrained upright pose.

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London’s ‘walk the Tube’ map reveals the real distance between stations

if you’re in central London and want to go from Covent Garden to Leicester Square, you might think of jumping on the Piccadilly line. But, in reality, the distance between these two stops is just four minutes on foot. Conversely, if you’re going from London Bridge to Borough (maybe to check out the food market), then the official map makes this look like quite a sizable distance. Should you take the tube? Nope, because in reality the two stops are only a nine-minute walk apart.

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Brick Lane – the melting pot of culture

“Every piece here has a story,” she said. “If they were protesting against fashion I can see their point. Fashion is big business and so many clothes are poor quality and produced on exploitation. Our product is not. It might be hand crafted in Japan, it is a sartorial work of art.” That said, she’s noticed changing clientele. “We have Argentinians, Japanese, Thais, Chinese.”

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Metroland, 100 years on: what’s become of England’s original vision of suburbia?

Planners, architects and builders are not the only ones who create cities. The suburban landscape of north-west London owes its existence, largely, to the imagination of the Metropolitan Railway’s marketing department. One hundred years ago, in the summer of 1915, the railway’s publicity people devised the term “Metroland” to describe the catchment area of villages stretching from Neasden into the Chiltern Hills. The railway had bought up huge tracts of farmland along this corridor in the decades before the first world war, and it was ripe for development. All they needed was a sales pitch.

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Creative young Brits are quitting London for affordable Berlin

The building that houses Agora, tucked away in a small side-street in residential Neukölln, in an old lock-making factory, is easy to ignore. Outside a handful of people in their late twenties and early thirties are milling about, smoking, working on their MacBook Airs, chatting. On the short walk from the front gate to the front door snippets of three different conversations in English can be heard. Inside is a sea of laptops on desks, with workers fuelled by cortados, flat whites and a daily changing menu, written in English; a woman with a strong German accent orders a coffee in English, because the woman behind the counter doesn’t speak German.

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I went to Speakers’ Corner in London, the spiritual home of Reddit

Contrary to Ohanian’s description, though, people at Speakers’ Corner can’t talk about absolutely anything they like. There are no special laws that apply to the area, and, as in the rest of the UK, inciting violence and any sort of hate speech is illegal. During my half-day there I see plenty of inflammatory arguments — about the nature of Islam, about “women’s place” in society — but the presence of the crowd seems to dull the nastier edges. At one, point a Texas preacher wearing magnificent snakeskin boots with the words “Jesus Saves” is cut off in the middle of a particularly unedifying rant about pornography (did you know that women are very pornographic nowadays?) by a Canadian teenager who approaches him with the words: “Sir, can I ask just one question?” He kneels down and with a dramatic gesture points with both hands at the preacher’s boots. “What are thoooooooose?” Sometimes, you just can’t escape the internet.

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Creative young Brits are quitting London for affordable Berlin

The building that houses Agora, tucked away in a small side-street in residential Neukölln, in an old lock-making factory, is easy to ignore. Outside a handful of people in their late twenties and early thirties are milling about, smoking, working on their MacBook Airs, chatting. On the short walk from the front gate to the front door snippets of three different conversations in English can be heard. Inside is a sea of laptops on desks, with workers fuelled by cortados, flat whites and a daily changing menu, written in English; a woman with a strong German accent orders a coffee in English, because the woman behind the counter doesn’t speak German.

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How map-master Max Gill became the saviour of the London Underground | Art and design | The Guardian

stripey serpent writhes up from the middle of Hyde Park, flicking its tongue towards fleeing crowds, as an exotic bird gobbles up a small child in London Zoo, poking its sharp beak through the cage. A hot-air balloon floats over Kennington, and a plane loops-the-loop above Kilburn, while the rest of the city busies itself below with an air of medieval festivity. As Europe was about to tear itself to shreds in 1914, this is how the London Underground chose to depict the city, with lavish “Wonderground” maps hung in every station. Packed with little jokes and mischievous details, it was a clear bid to cheer up commuters and distract them from the over-crowded, filthy carriages into which they were about to be squeezed.

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