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Mobile Phone Activity as a Driving Force for Urban Developments

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Posted January 8, 2015

A study recently published on arXiv.org suggests that measurements of mobile phone activity could be used as a fingerprint for urban development and other social forecasts, especially those of critical importance.

Fire-related social migration trajectories traced according to the changes in mobile traffic. Green - displacement before the fire, blue - the day of fire, red -after the fire. Image courtesy of the researchers.

Fire-related social migration trajectories traced according to the changes in mobile traffic. Green – displacement before the fire, blue – the day of fire, red -after the fire. Image courtesy of the researchers.

The authors of the study argue that call detail records contain bits of information useful as a potential and promising source of information that could provide new insights into human behavior. We could easily imagine, that such information, for example,  could be used to identify zones were people like to spend their time, places of gatherings during different times of a day. Then urban developers could use this information to decide best places to build restaurants, hotels, apartment houses and constructions of other purposes.

Meanwhile, the researchers took a more global approach, at least in the initial stage of the research. They note that calling patterns (which include parameters like call reciprocity and call diversity) can be related to socioeconomic status of different populations. Also, they could be used to follow natural disasters and economic shocks, the scientists say.

The team suggests using their research to predict the impact of wildfires and other natural disasters on the patterns of social migration. In turn, these patterns could be associated with the economical forecasts on region- or even country-level. Further research is planned to asses the effects of the mobile data subsampling with aim to explore how particular datasets could be related to more specific geographic locations.

Written by Alius Noreika

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