New Approaches to Human Mobility: Using Mobile Phones for Demographic Research
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- Palmer, J.R.B., Espenshade, T.J., Bartumeus, F. et al. Demography (2013) 50: 1105. doi:10.1007/s13524-012-0175-z
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This article explores new methods for gathering and analyzing spatially rich demographic data using mobile phones. It describes a pilot study (the Human Mobility Project) in which volunteers around the world were successfully recruited to share GPS and cellular tower information on their trajectories and respond to dynamic, location-based surveys using an open-source Android application. The pilot study illustrates the great potential of mobile phone methodology for moving spatial measures beyond residential census units and investigating a range of important social phenomena, including the heterogeneity of activity spaces, the dynamic nature of spatial segregation, and the contextual dependence of subjective well-being.