Negozi: The VPC’s Shop Data Collection App

How the 2015 VPC Shops and Stalls Team Collected Data:

In order to track the changing face of the retail sector in Venice, now and for future years to come, the team developed a mobile application that assists with the data collection process.  Conventionally, compiling data on the shops of Venice would involve two separate steps: the data recording process, and the uploading process. A team would need to walk to each shop and record the data of interest on paper or their phone, and then return in order to add the collected data to a database for analysis. Aiming to simplify this process, the team combined these two steps into one to allow for more efficient data collection. The application the team developed allowed any user to input store data through a smartphone and upload a photo that goes directly into a database which would supply content for our visualization app. Our final mobile app, Negozi, offered multiple features and contains several fields that we were able to use out in the field for recording data.

Since the team spent a lot of time developing our applications, we were only able to collect data for Cannaregio. Click here to check out Negozi!


Features of Negozi:

Upon logging into Negozi, the user is presented with a GPS button. When pressed, the app will use GPS coordinates, taken from the mobile device, to reference past WPI shops data (Figure 25).  A list of tabs for each store within a 70-meter radius appears. The tabs are labeled by the address of the store. Users can swipe between the tabs or click on the tab headers to find the store and either update the data, or mark the store as closed.

In order to submit data using Negozi, it is required that an image of the store (taken with the smartphone camera) be uploaded along with the other data.  This served as a way of validating our data, proving that the team had been to the location and provided some visual proof of our claims about the store. A preview of the selected picture is displayed, and the user can choose to upload that picture if it is satisfactory.  Once the picture has been successfully uploaded, a message reading “OK!” will appear to indicate success.

Following the picture upload, there are fields that describe the name and address of the store. These are autocompleted using data from the 2012 study, The Merchants of Venice.  There is the option, however, to change the data within these fields should the shop move or the name change.  Additionally, there is a field for ethnicity of ownership, though this field was rarely used due to an unavailability of this information.

  One of the most important fields is the goods sold. Using the NACE plus code categorizations of stores, there are many different options to choose from (bar, souvenir, florist, etc.). An autocomplete box helps users type the categorization of shop. This information was very important for our analysis of the data.

In another field, users can select whether the store caters primarily to tourists, residents, or mixed clientele. This was implemented because the team wanted to be able to look at each store individually and try to discern who the target audience was. For instance, there are restaurants catering exclusively to tourists (displaying pictures of the food and having translated menus) where local Venetians wouldn’t want to be caught dead there. The team looked for indicators, like menus with pictures of food, to determine this (Figure 26). There are some restaurants that local Venetians frequent, but which might also cater to a tourist looking for a more authentic Venetian meal.

In the interest of looking at how shops affect the appearance of the city, the application has a field for whether or not a store owns plateatici.  Underneath the yes or no option, Negozi includes fields for both tables with four chairs and tables with two chairs.  We chose to include these because tables take up the vast majority of space occupied by plateatici, which can also include smaller things like postcard stands or signage.  By recording the number of tables, we can use the data to get an approximation of how large the plateatici is, reaffirmed by the picture uploaded with the entry.

Finally, Negozi offers a field for general notes deemed important. Frequently, this was used to describe plateatici present that weren’t associated with restaurants, bars, or tables.  Once this and all other information have been completed, users can select the submit button in order to upload their newly recorded information. Once the timestamp appears and the data has been uploaded, it is instantly usable from the database.

Negozi and The Shopp Mapp App

        The data collected by the Negozi application is instantaneously uploaded onto the Shopp Mapp App in order to visualize the changing face of the Venetian retail sector. Head back to the Shopp Mapp App by clicking anywhere outside the popup! For more information on how the Shopp Mapp App displays the data from Negozi checkout our about page here.