Emerging Technology From the arXiv: “The data from mobile phones is revolutionizing our understanding of human activity. In recent years, it has revealed commuting patterns in major cities, wealth distribution in African countries, and even reproductive strategies in western societies. That has provided unprecedented insight for economists, sociologists, and city planners among others.
But this kind of advanced research is just a first step in a much broader trend. Phone data is set to become a standard resource that almost anyone can use to study and watch humanity continuously, much as they can now watch the weather unfold anywhere on the planet almost in real time.
But one thing is holding them back—the lack of powerful computational tools that can gather, crunch, and present the data in meaningful ways.
Today, that looks set to change to the work of Dániel Kondor and a few pals at the SENSEable City Laboratory, part of MIT, and at Ericsson, a company that produces network infrastructure technologies. These guys have unveiled a powerful online tool that uses mobile phone data to visualize human activity in cities all over the world.
This new tool, called ManyCities, allows anybody to study human activity in various cities with unprecedented detail. But the key is that it organizes and presents the data in intuitive ways that quickly reveals trends and special events….
ManyCities then presents the data in three simple ways. The first shows how phone usage varies over time, revealing clear daily and weekly patterns as well as longer term trends. For example, ManyCities clearly shows a steady, long-term increase in data traffic, the effect of holidays, and how usage patterns change dramatically during important events like the Wimbledon tennis championship in London.
ManyCities also allows user to drill down into the data to compare patterns in different neighborhoods or in different cities. It shows, for example, that text message activity peaks in the morning in Hong Kong, in the evening in New York and at midday in London….Kondor and co have made it available at www.ManyCities.org for anybody to try.
This kind of tool is clearly evolving into a real time analytics tool. It’s not hard to imagine how people could use it to plan events such as conferences, sporting contests, or concerts or to plan emergency city infrastructure. One day people may even tune in to a “smartphone forecast” to find out if their phone will work when the big game kicks off that evening.
Ref: arxiv.org/abs/1509.00459 : Visualizing Signatures Of Human Activity In Cities Across The Globe”