Modeling and Understanding Intrinsic Characteristics of Human Mobility

  • Jameson L. Toole
  • Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye
  • Marta C. González
  • Alex (Sandy) Pentland
Part of the Computational Social Sciences book series (CSS)


Humans are intrinsically social creatures and our mobility is central to understanding how our societies grow and function. Movement allows us to congregate with our peers, access things we need, and exchange information. Human mobility has huge impacts on topics like urban and transportation planning, social and biologic spreading, and economic outcomes. So far, modeling these processes has been hindered by a lack of data. This is radically changing with the rise of ubiquitous devices. In this chapter, we discuss recent progress deriving insights from the massive, high resolution data sets collected from mobile phone and other devices. We begin with individual mobility, where empirical evidence and statistical models have shown important intrinsic and universal characteristics about our movement: we, as human, are fundamentally slow to explore new places, relatively predictable, and mostly unique. We then explore methods of modeling aggregate movement of people from place to place and discuss how these estimates can be used to understand and optimize transportation infrastructure. Finally, we highlight applications of these findings to the dynamics of disease spread, social networks, and economic outcomes.


Mobile Phone Geographic Information System Gravity Model Mobility Model Route Choice 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jameson L. Toole
    • 1
  • Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye
    • 2
  • Marta C. González
    • 3
  • Alex (Sandy) Pentland
    • 2
  1. 1.Engineering Systems DivisionMITCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Media Lab, MITCambridgeUSA
  3. 3.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringMITCambridgeUSA

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