Multi-scale spatio-temporal analysis of human mobility

Laura Alessandretti, Piotr Sapiezynski, Sune Lehmann Jørgensen, Andrea Baronchelli

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The recent availability of digital traces generated by phone calls and online logins has significantly increased the scientific understanding of human mobility. Until now, however, limited data resolution and coverage have hindered a coherent description of human displacements across different spatial and temporal scales. Here, we characterise mobility behaviour across several orders of magnitude by analysing similar to 850 individuals' digital traces sampled every similar to 16 seconds for 25 months with similar to 10 meters spatial resolution. We show that the distributions of distances and waiting times between consecutive locations are best described by log-normal and gamma distributions, respectively, and that natural time-scales emerge from the regularity of human mobility. We point out that log-normal distributions also characterise the patterns of discovery of new places, implying that they are not a simple consequence of the routine of modern life.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0171686
JournalP L o S One
Issue number2
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

© 2017 Alessandretti et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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