Class to crunch social media data during UCI Road World Cycling Championships

Jennifer Ciminelli

Students in a class organized by Virginia Commonwealth University’s Office of Sustainability will log, map and analyze tweets sent by the 450,000 spectators anticipated at the upcoming UCI Road World Cycling Championships to learn how geographic information systems can impact green event planning.

“This assignment is really happening in front of them, so they can think on their feet,” said Wyatt Carpenter, VCU’s sustainability projects and program coordinator. The world’s elite cyclists will crisscross VCU’s Monroe Park Campus and MCV Campus during races and practices being held Sept. 19–27, with the finish line situated roughly halfway between the campuses in Richmond.

Carpenter will join Jennifer Ciminelli (M.S.’06/LS), research and data coordinator for the VCU Rice Rivers Center, to teach the special topics course, “Adaptive Response Modeling Using GIS” around the race. As the highlight, students will take part in a race-day exercise pulling social media feeds into GIS modeling to figure out how to best meet recycling demand from crowds of race fans.

“The race provides a really unique opportunity for us to have this type of situational awareness,” Ciminelli said. “When’s the next time we’re going to get a situation like this?”

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