In the past decade, large scale mobile phone data have become available for the study of human movement patterns. These data hold an immense promise for understanding human behavior on a vast scale, and with a precision and accuracy never before possible with censuses, surveys or other existing data collection techniques. There is already a significant body of literature that has made key inroads into understanding human mobility using this exciting new data source, and there have been several different measures of mobility used. However, existing mobile phone based mobility measures are inconsistent, inaccurate, and confounded with social characteristics of local context. New measures would best be developed immediately as they will influence future studies of mobility using mobile phone data. In this article, we do exactly this. We discuss problems with existing mobile phone based measures of mobility and describe new methods for measuring mobility that address these concerns. Our measures of mobility, which incorporate both mobile phone records and detailed GIS data, are designed to address the spatial nature of human mobility, to remain independent of social characteristics of context, and to be comparable across geographic regions and time. We also contribute a discussion of the variety of uses for these new measures in developing a better understanding of how human mobility influences micro-level human behaviors and well-being, and macro-level social organization and change.
Measures of Human Mobility Using Mobile Phone Records Enhanced with GIS Data
Nathalie E. Williams, Timothy A. Thomas, Matthew Dunbar, Nathan Eagle, Adrian Dobra