Mobile Phone Data Shows How We Get Around

Posted on Apr 9 2013 - 9:53pm by Robert

An interesting piece of research has shown how our mobile phones can be used to track our movements and find out more about human behaviour patterns.

The study was published in the journal Nature and was done by a team which included Dr Marta Gonzalez, who is based in the Northeastern University in Boston. Their efforts included tracking the location of over 100,000 mobile phones and their users.

Not a Lot of Travelling, and Usually to the Same Places

trackThe most interesting outcome of the investigation is that it confirms that we are creatures of habit who go back to the same places over and over again. In fact, most of us travel under 10 kilometres on a regular basis.

It has been suggested that the results of this work using European phone users could help us do things such as bring diseases under control or manage the traffic flow better.

Dr Gonzalez said that it would be a good thing if universities could get access to the data from all the mobile operators, as it is such a “rich” source of information. Her point was backed up by the head of research and development at Ofcom in the UK. He is called Dr William Webb and he said that the data from mobile phones is “underexploited”. He said that this latest study shows us “the tip of the iceberg”.

Previous attempts to track human movement using GPs data or old-fashioned surveys have turned out to be expensive and this had led to other ideas such as this one and the one at the wheresgeorge website, which allows users to track dollar bills as they progress.

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