Southampton: city life captured in digital portrait


From snow to the Southampton Saints and diving fans’ favourite TV show Splash!, the hot topics that get Southampton talking online have been captured for the first time ever in a unique digital portrait of the city created by world renowned digital artist, Brendan Dawes.

Commissioned by EE to mark the of arrival 4G in the UK, Dawes worked closely with a data analysis team at University College London (UCL), capturing the social media conversations and topics trending across the city over 4320 minutes - three days’ worth of analysis from 19th to 21st January 2013, following the launch of 4G in the city.

The result is a fascinating digital snapshot of life in Southampton in 2013. Dawes and UCL worked within the categories of sport, politics, film, music, TV, education, culture and weather – aiming to dig deeper into the topics that affect how people communicate in the city 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 represent the popularity of each topic and the frequency at which people were speaking about them.

Steven Day, Chief of Brands and Communications, EE said: “EE has launched superfast mobile 4G and Fibre Broadband in the city of Southampton and we wanted to mark this in a visual way that everyone in the city can relate to and enjoy.”

Tom Daley fever gripped Southampton, with circles of light aqua appearing all over the portrait which represents chatter about the ITV show Splash!. The intense snow that hit the UK drove online conversation amongst people in Southampton as demonstrated by the thick and frequent dark aqua circles. The red circles in varying size reflect football fans happily chatting about the Southampton Saints vs. Manchester United football match, their first meeting in over five years.  

Brendan Dawes said: “It is the people and the activities within it - work, play and the connections within that define a city. This design is a modern sophisticated response to the representation of a city - 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 key areas that the research focused on during the data capture period were :

  • Pochettino
  • Love
  • Saints
  • Exercise
  • Splash!
  • Dancing on Ice
  • Django Unchained
  • Money
  • Nigel Adkins
  • Snow
  • EU

The artwork will be displayed at the Southampton Art Gallery from 19th  February 2013 – entry is free to the public

For more information on EE, please visit

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

Thom Landers:

Sunny Sahota:

020 7544 3600


The data was captured during 19th to 21st January 2013 – following the launch of 4G in the city.

About EE

EE is the 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 broadband.

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

Its 4G service will cover more than half of the UK population by June 2013 and EE continues to improve the speed and reach of the UK’s first 4G network. Its fibre service already covers 50% of the population. 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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