Seminar Abstract

Cynthia Chen, UW Civil and Environmental Engineering

"From sightings to trajectories: How well can we guess activity
locations from mobile phone sightings?"

Time: 12:30 pm on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013
Place: Savery 409

Passively generated mobile phone dataset is emerging as a new data source for research in human mobility patterns. Information on people’s trajectories is not directly available from such dataset; they must be inferred. Many questions remain in terms how well we can capture human mobility patterns from such dataset. Only one study has compared the results from a mobile phone dataset to those from the National Household Travel Survey (NHTS), though the comparison is on two different populations and samples. This study constitutes one of the first, if not the first, study that systematically validates the results from a mobile phone dataset against the ground truth. Clearly, more studies of the same type are needed. The findings reported are promising. The distribution of the activity locations identified from the simulation dataset resembles the true distribution quite well and the majority of the home and work places are correctly identified, within a relatively short distance from the true ones. These results point to the tremendous potential that these passively generated mobile phone datasets may supplement or even replace household travel surveys in the future.