Updates on mining cell phone data for human behavior
May 23rd, 2009

“Now, scientists are discovering that a world buzzing with cell phone calls and text messages has a side benefit: reams of data about who calls whom and about where they are at what time.” So begins an overview on the Online NewsHour of how researchers are beginning to use that data.

A major source of data for work being done by physicist Albert-Laszlo Barabasi and his colleagues at Northeastern University’s Center for Complex Network Research mines six months of anonymous cell phone data from more than 100,000 people in a European country, finding that:

people tend not to stray far — almost three quarters of the people stayed mainly within about a 20-mile circle for the entire six months, and nearly half the people rarely strayed outside a six-mile circle. They also tended to go back and forth regularly between only a few locations, such as home and work.

Those results might not seem surprising, but the researchers say that the model of human motion they developed could be useful for urban planners, evacuation planning and disease tracking.

The article other gives highlights, including why computer viruses are not (yet?) spreading among smart phones and studies of ever-changing activity within a city.

Via BarabasiLab


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