British city life captured in series of digital portraits


From Strictly to Skyfall and the economy to the weather, the hot topics that get the country talking online have been captured for the first time ever in a series of unique digital portraits of the cities across the UK, created by world renowned digital artist, Brendan Dawes.

Commissioned by EE to mark the of arrival 4G in the UK, Dawes worked closely with the data analysis team at University College London (UCL), capturing the social media conversations and topics trending across 11 cities in the UK over 4320 minutes  - three days' worth of analysis from 29th – 31st October1.This time period represents the day before, during and after the period in which 4G was introduced to Liverpool, Edinburgh, Bristol, London, Sheffield, Birmingham, Manchester, Cardiff, Leeds and Glasgow.

The result is a fascinating digital snapshot of life in Britain in 2012. Dawes and UCL worked within the categories of sport, politics, film, music, TV, educational, culture and weather – aiming to dig deeper into the topics that affect how people communicate and what they talk about when they go online.

Each chosen topic and the hundreds of thousands of digital conversations associated with them are represented by a specific colour coded keyword. From the keywords at the bottom of the artwork a series of lines flare out to form a myriad of coloured interlinked circles. The thickness of the lines and the size and brightness of the circles respresent the popularity of each topic and the frequency at which people were speaking about them.

Steven Day, Chief of Brands and Communications, EE commented: "EE has launched superfast mobile 4G and Fibre Broadband in the UK and we wanted to mark this in a visual way that everyone in these cities can relate to and enjoy."

The key areas that the research focused on during the research period were:

  • New York
  • X Factor
  • Skyfall
  • Pride of Britain Awards
  • 4G
  • Money
  • MPs
  • Strictly Come Dancing
  • Happiness
  • Weather

Brendan Dawes said, "People know accents across the country like Mancunian, Bristolian, and Scouse as soon as they hear them. Now, for the first time, we've discovered what they actually look like."

Dawes continued: "It is the people and the activities within it - work, play and the connections within that define our cities. This design is a modern sophisticated response to the representation of 11 of our cities - formed from millions of bits of data as people talk and interact about the biggest events of the day. The shape, derived from nature, evoking the organic nature of a network softens the often harsh representation of digital, leaving instead an impression of a modern dynamic system, that we call cities, in the 21st century."

The artwork will be displayed free to the public across the UK

For more information on EE, please visit

- ENDS -

For further information, images of each city portrait or comment from an EE spokesperson,  please contact the team at M&C Saatchi PR:

Andrew Olley: / 020 7544 3600


1The data was captured during 29th to 31st October 2012 - the day before the launch of EE, the launch day and one day post launch.  


Liverpool – Fact Gallery

Edinburgh – City Art Centre

Bristol – View Art Gallery

London – University College London

Sheffield – Town Hall

Manchester – Town Hall

Cardiff – Town Hall

Birmingham – Town Hall

Leeds - TBC

Glasgow – TBC

Southampton - TBC

About EE

EE is the UK's most advanced digital communications company in Britain, providing mobile and fixed line services to 27 million customers, and is the first company in the UK to provide 4G mobile services alongside fixed-line fibre.

EE is the company that runs the Orange, T-Mobile and EE brands in the UK.

Its 4G service will cover a third of the population by the end of 2012 and its fibre service will cover 50% of the population by the end of the year.

EE's mobile service currently provides coverage to 99% of the population with 2G and 98% of the population with 3G.

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