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Understanding individual human mobility patterns

Understanding individual human mobility patterns The mapping of large-scale human movements is important for urban planning, traffic forecasting and epidemic prevention. Work in animals had suggested that their foraging might be explained in terms of a random walk, a mathematical rendition of a series of random steps, or a Lévy flight, a random walk punctuated by occasional larger steps. The role of Lévy statistics in animal behaviour is much debated — as explained in an accompanying News Feature — but the idea of extending it to human behaviour was boosted by a report in 2006 of Lévy flight-like patterns in human movement tracked via dollar bills. A new human study, based on tracking the trajectory of 100,000 cell-phone users for six months, reveals behaviour close to a Lévy pattern, but deviating from it as individual trajectories show a high degree of temporal and spatial regularity: work and other commitments mean we are not as free to roam as a foraging animal. But by correcting the data to accommodate individual variation, simple and predictable patterns in human travel begin to emerge. The cover photo (by Cesar Hidalgo) captures human mobility in New York's Grand Central Station. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Nature Springer Journals

Understanding individual human mobility patterns

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References (55)

Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 by Nature Publishing Group
Subject
Science, Humanities and Social Sciences, multidisciplinary; Science, Humanities and Social Sciences, multidisciplinary; Science, multidisciplinary
ISSN
0028-0836
eISSN
1476-4687
DOI
10.1038/nature06958
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The mapping of large-scale human movements is important for urban planning, traffic forecasting and epidemic prevention. Work in animals had suggested that their foraging might be explained in terms of a random walk, a mathematical rendition of a series of random steps, or a Lévy flight, a random walk punctuated by occasional larger steps. The role of Lévy statistics in animal behaviour is much debated — as explained in an accompanying News Feature — but the idea of extending it to human behaviour was boosted by a report in 2006 of Lévy flight-like patterns in human movement tracked via dollar bills. A new human study, based on tracking the trajectory of 100,000 cell-phone users for six months, reveals behaviour close to a Lévy pattern, but deviating from it as individual trajectories show a high degree of temporal and spatial regularity: work and other commitments mean we are not as free to roam as a foraging animal. But by correcting the data to accommodate individual variation, simple and predictable patterns in human travel begin to emerge. The cover photo (by Cesar Hidalgo) captures human mobility in New York's Grand Central Station.

Journal

NatureSpringer Journals

Published: Jun 5, 2008

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