About Us

About us

The Friendly Cities Lab is an active research group within the School of City & Regional Planning and School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech. FCL is a Smart Cities initiative that studies interpersonal relationships in geographic space. We create a new measure of geographical nearness called ‘social distance’ to measure how ‘close’ places based on their connections instead of how close they are on a map. We use innovative data sets ranging from chocolate, online dating, phone calls, and photos of living rooms to learn just a little bit more about the planet and its people.


Developments: Social flow theory, social distance measurements, GIS + social networks, metrics for dyadic interaction in geography.
: geographic information systems (GIS), social networks, complexity, social capital,  urban planning.
Data used: Telecommunications, migration, transportation, commutes, interior images, consumer behavior, mentorships, real estate, online social media, political data, college admissions and sports, online reviews, restaurants and third places, personal interviews and surveys.
Team: Geographers, architects, engineers, sociologists, statisticians & information scientists
Director: Clio Andris, PhD (MIT 2011)
Founded: 2015 as part of the Penn State GeoVISTA Center


We are part of the Center for Spatial Analysis and Visualization (CSPAV), and the InfoVis Group in the School of Interactive Computing

Sister Labs: We are part of a wide network of emerging and established urban and spatial analysis labs across the world.
Civic Data Design Lab, MIT, PI Sarah Williams
Community Resilience Lab, University of Buffalo, PI Zoe Hamstead
Geospatial Data Science Lab, University of Wisconsin-Madison, PI Song Gao
Geoinformatics and Earth Observation Lab, Penn State, PI Guido Cervone
Movement Science Lab (MOVE@UCSB), UC-Santa Barbara, PI Somayeh Dodge
NUS Urban Analytics Lab, National University Singapore, PI Filip Biljecki
Platial Analysis Lab, McGill University, PI Grant McKenzie

If you are doing urban work and would like to be a Sister Lab, let us know!