COMPUTING URBAN MOBILE LANDSCAPES THROUGH MONITORING POPULATION DENSITY BASED ON CELL-PHONE CHATTING
Free (open access)
Volume 3 (2008), Issue 2
121 - 134
R.M. PULSELLI, P. ROMANO, C. RATTI & E. TIEZZI
This study conducts traffic data of mobile-phone antennas, recorded by a telecommunications company, to develop a real-time monitoring technique of population density in an urban area, given that the intensity of activity in a cell (a covered area around an antenna) is directly proportional to the presence of cell-phone users. An application of this technique to the metropolitan area of Milan (Italy) is presented. Results are illustrated in the form of patch dynamics through a sequence of maps showing how people use urban space in time (e.g. monitoring 24 hours of a working day; comparing working days with Saturday and Sunday; observing special events such as a soccer match at the stadium). In other words, the method presented allows for the visualization of social dynamics in a built-up environment and may provide a spatial zoning based on time use of urban functions. This relates to a human ecosystem framework that provides a theoretical approach to investigate how urban structures affect the distribution of organisms (people), integrating spatial and temporal aspects. Once tested, potential practical applications of this technique were discussed to improve the efficiency of urban systems management and planning through the monitoring of their dynamics.