Urban Gamification as a Source of Information for Spatial Data
Analysis and Predictive Participatory Modelling of a City’s
Robert Olszewski
, Agnieszka Turek
and Marcin Łączyński
Faculty of Geodesy and Cartography, Warsaw University of Technology, Pl. Politechniki 1, Warsaw, Poland
Laboratory of Media Studies, University of Warsaw, ul. Bednarska 2/4, Warsaw, Poland
Keywords: Spatial Data Mining, Gamification, Data Analysis, Participatory Modelling, Revitalisation, Smart City.
Abstract: The basic problem in predictive participatory urban planning is activating residents of a city, e.g. through the
application of the technique of individual and/or team gamification. The authors of the article developed (and
tested in Płock) a methodology and prototype of an urban game called “Urban Shaper”. This permitted
obtaining a vast collection of opinions of participants on the directions of potential development of the city.
The opinions, however, are expressed in an indirect manner. Therefore, their analysis and modelling of
participatory urban development requires the application of extended algorithms of spatial statistics. The
collected source data are successively processed by means of spatial data mining techniques, permitting
activation of condensed spatial knowledge based on “raw” source data with high volume (big data).
In modern times, access to data (including spatial
data) has become relatively easy. “Raw” data,
however, require transformation into useful
information, and then into applicable knowledge and
skills of decision making based on the obtained
analysis results. Activation of knowledge based on
available information (also spatial information) is
therefore of key importance in the epoch in which
factories have ceased to be the places generating
economic value, and media and teleinformation
networks have become such places.The approach
proposed by the authors combines the possibilities of
GIS packages and statistical software. It permits the
performance of very complex analyses. One of the
methods of such an analysis is the application of so-
called data mining and data enrichment for the
detection of patterns, rules, and structures “hidden” in
the data base. Source data, e.g. location of objects in
the geographic space and attributes describing them
are almost commonly available. The determination of
temporal-spatial correlations, key factors determining
changes, or the spatial scale of their effect, however,
require the transformation of “raw” data into
The authors used spatial data mining techniques
to analyze the data collected for the city of Płock
(with 100 thousand residents), in order to identify
significant phenomena and problems occurring in the
Płock is a city located in the Mazowieckie
Voivodship, approximately 115 km west of Warsaw,
the capital of Poland. The city has a population of
approximately 125 thousand over an area of 88 km
In administrative terns, Płock is divided into 23
districts, including 21 residential districts, and two
uninhabited industrial districts.
In the scope of revitalisation activities, the city
authorities identified crisis areas with concentration
of negative social phenomena, as well as economic,
spatial-functional, technical, or environmental issues.
The areas are also distinguished by an insufficient
level of social participation and participation of
residents in the public and cultural life of the city. In
2014, the Municipal Office of Płock conducted a
Olszewski, R., Turek, A. and Ł ˛aczy
nski, M.
Urban Gamification as a Source of Information for Spatial Data Analysis and Predictive Participatory Modelling of a City’s Development.
DOI: 10.5220/0006005201760181
In Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Data Management Technologies and Applications (DATA 2016), pages 176-181
ISBN: 978-989-758-193-9
2016 by SCITEPRESS – Science and Technology Publications, Lda. All rights reserved
Figure 1: Study area divided into 5 parts with 38 points of interest.
survey providing answers of 1904 respondents. In
each of the designated areas, the following groups of
problems were defined: technical problems, social
problems related to the quality of life of residents, and
problems concerning lack of certain forms of activity
near the place of residence. Residents also identified
areas requiring revitalisation. The results of the
survey permitted preliminary verification of the main
problems occurring in the selected part of Płock. For
example, residents of the city centre (Old Town
district) point out lack of places permitting various
types of activity near their place of residence. The
analysed area lacks places for spending free time (e.g.
local club, internet café, library, fitness club,
community centre) or events integrating the local
community. Based on this information, the authors of
the article selected an area located in the city centre
for the analysis. The area was divided into five sub-
areas differing in terms of main problems and barriers
for local development. A total of 38 objects of public
utility, parks, tenement houses, etc. evoking strong
emotions in the residents of Płock were also identified
in the area (Fig.1). The size of the pie chart represents
the varied level of activity of the game participants in
reference to particular objects in five selected areas of
the city.
The following priority problems were identified
for the designated areas:
Area 1 - "Tumska" – problem of the renovated
Tumska Street (promenade) which contrary to the
assumptions did not become attractive for the
residents and new tenants;
Area 2 - "Obrońców Warszawy" (Warsaw Defenders’
Square) – low standard of public space;
Area 3 - "Park na Górkach" – degraded green areas in
the city centre;
Area 4 - "Nabrzeże" - problem of connectivity of the
city with the river, low standard of public space;
Area 5 - "Starówka" (Old Town) - low standard of
building development, depopulation of the area.
The identification of the primary problems of the
city requires appropriate analysis of collected data. In
order to transform passive and atomized individuals
into open (geo)information society developing a
vision of development of the city in the process of
social participation, it is crucial to reach the emotions
of the citizens, and to release their social energy. The
opinions of the residents are valuable for further
actions. One of the most effective (and most
enjoyable) way to achieve such an effect is so-called
gamification, i.e. encouraging the participants to take
part in the mass “game” involving mobile
applications, advanced technologies applying e.g.
computer game engines, and elements of augmented
In order to convince the city residents to express
their opinions on potential directions of development
of the city and its revitalisation, the authors developed
a methodology and prototype of an urban game called
“Urban Shaper”. Tests of the game conducted on a
Urban Gamification as a Source of Information for Spatial Data Analysis and Predictive Participatory Modelling of a City’s Development
group of approximately 250 residents of Płock
permitted obtaining a set of spatially distributed
source data. The opinions of the residents, however,
are expressed in an indirect way. Therefore, their
analysis and modelling of the participatory process of
the city‘s development requires the application of
extended algorithms of spatial statistics.
2.1 Gamification in Collecting Spatial
For the purpose of increasing the involvement of
recipients in the designed platform for collection of
information regarding urban space, our team referred
to solutions based on gamification defined as “the use
of the mechanics and aesthetics of games and game
thinking to increase the involvement of people,
motivate action, and promote learning and problem
solving training” (Kapp, 2012). Gamification is a
relatively new trend emerging from deliberations of
several researchers dealing with the effect of games
on the life and behaviour of people, as well as from
practical experiences of companies using gaming
mechanisms to determine the behaviours of their
employees (Clark, 2009; McGonigal, 2011;
Zichermann, 2013; Robson et al., 2015). The key
features of the approach include (Kapp, 2012):
Development of a system with features of a game,
aimed at involving participants in an activity
based on a system of rules, goals, interactions,
feedbacks, and measureable score system;
Use of particular mechanisms typical of games
such as points, levels, score, or time limits for the
performance of particular tasks;
Development of a coherent plot and aesthetics
characteristic of a game;
Generating a playful approach to the activity in
participants, leading to an increase in internal
motivation for action;
Focusing on the subject of the game, and increase
in emotional involvement for better memorisation
of new content, and faster learning in such an
Development of a clear motivational system for
Both the source data collected in the process of
gamification and the resulting information are of
georeferential character – they refer to a particular
place in space, and are differentiated in such space.
Therefore, their analysis requires the application of
spatial data mining techniques, and the visualisation of
results – a map (Goodchild, 2007; Gąsiorowski,
Hajkowska, Olszewski, 2015). The application of
modern advanced information-communication
technologies permits fast obtaining of information
resources of big data type. Their exploration, however,
requires the use of a map (Fiedukowicz, 2013). Owing
to the applied approach, large sets of spatial data are
subject to interpretation, generalisation, and
aggregation, leading to the development of a map as a
medium of transfer of legible spatial information.
Research in the field of gamification, and
knowledge acquisition from spatial data bases
(Piatetsky-Shapiro, Frawley, 1991) are parts of the
broadly defined concept of a smart city (Opromolla,
2015; Uskov, Sekar, 2015; Cecchini, 2015).
2.2 Game “Urban Shaper”
Game “Urban Shaper” is a network application
developed in PHP language, adjusted to be used
during workshops and discussions with residents.
Data collected during the game are saved in the form
of XLS spreadsheets, and exported during post-
processing to a data mining system permitting their
more thorough analysis.
The game has an implemented functionality of
supporting real maps with marked points (buildings,
areas) which the described problems and activities
conducted by the participants concern.
Each team of 20-25 persons is divided into five
groups of 4-5 persons. Each group receives
information concerning their district/area of the city,
demonstrating the state of buildings and places
covered by the activities of the team, as well as
problems occurring in such places. Each place and
problem is described by means of five parameters:
public services, recreation, commercial services,
technical state, and tourist values.
Based on the awarded virtual “budget”, the
participants perform activities involving the elimination
of particular problems (e.g. repair of broken lighting,
repair of road surface, replacing heating systems in
municipal buildings), or introduction of positive
changes by adding new functions to particular areas (e.g.
assembly of a playground, opening a community centre
for residents).
The game can also be used as a tool for collecting
geoinformation data during workshops as a part of the
social consultations process.
The categories of information collected during the
game include:
buildings and areas attracting the attention of the
participants to the highest degree;
the most frequently selected revitalisation
problems most frequently pointed out by the
participants as requiring close attention;
DATA 2016 - 5th International Conference on Data Management Technologies and Applications
differentiation of the strategy of spatial
management depending on the area of the city;
key functions ascribed by residents to particular
The game offers a possibility of choice of a score
system in a round in which the tool itself implements
specified persuasion goals which can include:
presentation of the most cost-effective
revitalisation strategies;
incentive for the development of strategies
responding to specific objective problems of a
given area (e.g. low availability of public services
or recreational areas);
generating interest in a specific area of the city or
a specific category of activities, usually omitted
by residents in proposals of corrective actions;
The selection of areas, problems, and information
on potential revitalisation activities can be done in
several ways.
Firstly, the information can be provided by the
institutions of the city ordering conducting the
workshops based on data available to public offices –
e.g. information on the technical state of buildings,
amounts of rent, purpose of particular areas, and
information on social problems in particular parts of
the city (e.g. from an institution of social welfare or
the Police).
Another way of collection of the information (such
a system was applied during the implementation of the
pilot project in Płock) is the use of the existing results
of surveys concerning opinions of residents regarding
the revitalisation of the city, or conducting a mini
survey on the subject. Such a survey can be of
qualitative character, and has to be conducted based on
a representative sample of residents – its exclusive
objective is to obtain possibly the broadest range of
proposals of places and problems that should be
included in the game, without the necessity of
estimation of their quantitative importance.
The approach of the Authors is not the only such
solution in the world (more examples are described
on websites: www.urbaninteraction.net/city-gaming/,
n-development-part-1/). However the majority of
existing games do not work on current spatial data,
and they are not used as a tool of public consultation
and social participation.
The developed urban game methodology was tested
on 15 April 2016 in Płock during the pilot game
jointly implemented by team “Coniuncta” and the
Municipal Office of Płock under the auspices of the
International Training Centre for Authorities/Local
Entities (CIFAL - Centre International de Formation
des Autorites/Acteurs Locaux) of the United Nations
Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). The
study involved the participation of more than 160
high school students aged 16-18.
Data collected during the pilot game were
additionally enriched by attribute-spatial information
obtained from the topographic data base and
municipal registers, e.g. several thousand sale-
purchase transactions permitted the development of a
map of differentiation of real estate prices in Płock.
The use of topographic data permitted the
determination of distances from particular schools to
38 objects constituting elements of the urban game,
because the level of interest of the participants in the
technical state of such objects was very diverse. On
the map (Fig. 1), the size of the pie chart represented
the varied level of activity of the game participants in
reference to particular objects in five selected areas of
the city. The determination of the Pearson’s
correlation between real estate prices in a given area
of the city and the level of interest of participants (Fig.
2) shows quite strong positive correlation between the
factors for the Old Town area. In the southern
districts: “Obrońców Warszawy” and “Park na
Górkach”, a negative correlation occurs.
Based on spatial predicators determined based on
topographic correlations in the data analyses, such as
distance from the school of a given student to points
L1-L38, as well as the methodology of forming
association rules, the authors proposed the following
research hypothesis: “The objects of interest of young
residents of Płock are public purpose objects located
within a distance of not more than 600 m from their
school (up to 600 m)”. This permits the development
of the following fuzzy rule: “young citizens of the city
are interested in public spaces located in the vicinity
of the place of their education”.
Similar patterns of data mining were prepared for
a holistic analysis of data collected in the course of
the game, and general geographic and thematic data
collected in the city registers with the application of
decision making trees and other methods of machine
learning (Fayyad, 1996; Cabena, 1998; Han, Kamber,
2000; Hand, 2001; Miller, Han, 2001; Witten, Frank,
2005; Nisbet, 2009; Fiedukowicz, Gąsiorowski,
Olszewski, 2015). After performing the experiment in
the majority of schools in the city, the collected data
will be thoroughly analysed with the application of
such techniques.
Urban Gamification as a Source of Information for Spatial Data Analysis and Predictive Participatory Modelling of a City’s Development
Figure 2: Pearson’s correlation between real estate prices and the level of interest of participants.
Example data for area 1 “Tumska Street”
concerning effects of decisions made by the
participants are presented in the table 1. Point values
expressed as the mean and standard deviation permit
the determination of the priorities of revitalisation
activities, as well as differentiation of decision
making strategies adopted by the participants. The
observed focus is on recreation and tourist functions
of the analysed area, whereas for tourist values, the
standard deviation is considerably higher, suggesting
lower coherence of decisions in the scope. Low mean
and low differentiation of decisions concerns
technical state. This suggests that it is not treated as
an important issue in the analysed sample of
participants of the pilot game in the case of area
“Tumska Street” (it can be e.g. a derivative of the
actual best technical state of buildings in the area, also
evident in the parameters of the location in the game).
Table 1: Decision results for area 1 "Tumska Street".
Area of effect
public services 6.14 1.95
recreation 10.00 1.29
commercial services 5.29 1.80
technical state 5.57 0.98
tourist values 9.29 1.80
The results of the pilot game “Urban Shaper”
conducted in Płock suggest a number of advantages
of this form of activity from the point of view of
obtaining information from city residents. The most
important advantages observed in the course of the
pilot game include:
the possibility of obtaining opinions from a large
group of residents at the same time in the course
of a relatively short workshop;
in addition to obtaining information, the game
also offers educational values – it familiarises the
participating residents with the basic terms in the
scope of spatial planning. It can also constitute a
starting point for a substantive discussion on
problems faced by particular areas of the city, and
optimum revitalisation strategies;
The choice of any setting of the game parameters
permits using the game for both obtaining
information (in this case the game does not award
score to any specific revitalisation strategy), and for
educational-persuasion purposes (Bogost, 2010) (in
this variant, the game may assume specific
preferences for particular models of revitalisation
activities, e.g. energy-efficient, cost-efficient, or in
accordance with the city’s strategy).
DATA 2016 - 5th International Conference on Data Management Technologies and Applications
The performed research employed exceptionally
simple spatially located data available on the Google
Maps website in the form of a “classic” map and
ortoimage from satellite photographs. The intention
of the authors is the expansion of the concept of the
research in project FabSpace 2.0 “The Fablab for
geodata-driven innovation – by leveraging Space
data in particular, in Universities 2.0” currently
implemented in the scope of programme Horizon
2020, by the application of more sophisticated
sources of spatial information, e.g. satellite images
SPOT 5 (spatial resolution of photographs 2.5 m-5 m)
and SPOT 6-7 (pixel 1.5 m-3 m). The aforementioned
systems register the panchromatic scope and near
infrared. This permits the development of a
composition in natural colours, and e.g. so-called
standard composition. On the map, vegetation is
represented by red colour, and is very legible.
Satellite background defined in such a way can be
used in a variant of the game dedicated to the issues
of environmental protection, analysis of development
of green areas, etc.
The presented issues are at the very preliminary
stage of research. The authors plan to conduct the
game at a massive scale in order to collect big data for
many cities. The proposed (and many others)
analytical schemes will be applied and improved.
The currently developed version of the game
dedicated for mobile devices will be tested in several
selected European cities. This will permit the analysis
of spatial big data considering the cultural, economic,
and social differences between residents of cities in
different countries of the European Union.
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Urban Gamification as a Source of Information for Spatial Data Analysis and Predictive Participatory Modelling of a City’s Development