web analytics

— urbantick

Tag "mobile phone"

How the world is connected across large distances has recently be shown by projects analysing phone calls and mapping origin and destination. The MIT SensableCity Lab has done some work, Barabasi and his colleagues worked on it and also Jon Reades from CASA.

The latest work by MIT and UCL, above as circulated a couple of weeks ago, has redrawn the regions of Britain according to phone calls. The maps result from the analysis of a large phone data set covering the whole of the UK.

These large data sets are all held by the phone companies together with presumably a whole lote more interesting stuff. It is rather difficult and complicated to handle and only accessible for a few people.

However with the rise of apps on smart phones such data sets are generated by small independant companies. FTFun is one of them. They have developed an app for the iPhone focusing on facetime. Facetime was introduced by Apple with the release of the iPhone 4 and allows people to see one another during the phone call. These video calls are made possible by a second camera on the front of the iPhone 4. This works however only between two users of an iPhone 4. FTFun have developed a desktop app to allow other users to join in these video calls without the need of an iPhone 4.

As a byproduct the company sits on a data pool of location based connection information. At the beginning of the year they have decided to make some of it available as KML files viewable in Google Maps or Google Earth.

The company so far has 11k users and 185766 face time calls in the last four month since the release of iPhone 4. The data is release in three sets, the past three hours, yesterdays data and live data updated every two or so minutes. Below you can see a map showing the connections over the past three hours of the day.

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Found via Geo2web.

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Physicist Albert-László Barabási, well known for his work on network theory, has tuned his attention in a recent paper to the human movement. In the latest issue of Science 19 February 2010
Vol 327, Issue 5968, his paper ‘Limits of Predictability in Human Mobility‘ reports the research work undertaken with 50’000 anonymized mobile phone user data.
Barabási has don a lot of work on networks as early as 1999 were he coined the term Scale Free Networks, describing a type of networks with major hubs, such as for example the world wide web. In his barabasilab at Northeastern University, Centre for Complex Network Research a number of network related project are researched.

Image taken from The University of Chicago / Diagram of a scale-free network that contains components with a highly diverse level of connectivity. Some components form highly interconnected hubs, while other components have few connections, and there are many levels of interconnectivity in between.

However in this recent work the focus is on the predictability of human movement. The authors say: “By measuring the entropy of each individual’s trajectory, we find a 93% potential predictability in user mobility across the whole base. Despite the significant differences in the travel patterns, we find a remarkable lack of variability.” The work was intended to close a gap in the approaches to modeling human behavior. Despite personally we rarely perceive our actions as random, the existing models are largely based on the factors of random movement. The paper demonstrated that even though the activities, distances and motivations for individual movement might be very divers and different the predictability of an individuals location is not. They all have very similar predictability values, ranging between 80 % and 92 %. AOL News titles their article on the work “Study Makes It Official: People Are So Predictable” implying that this must be soooo boring.

Image taken from AOL News / These diagrams represent the movements of two mobile phone users. The one on the left shows that the person moved between 22 different cell towers during a three-month period, and placed 52 percent of his calls from one area; the other subject hit 76 spots, and was much less rooted.

This might be very surprising news for most people. The fact that there is so much less changing and spontaneity might seem unrealistic, but a similar impression was given by the data collected with the UrbanDiary project last year. Even though this was a really small sample, the fact that individuals travel most of the time along their known routes, between only a few hot spots clearly emerged. This can also be seen visualised in the What Shape are You? renders. Also Hagerstand’s work pointed in to this direction arguing that the ‘Constraints’ are too strong for too many out of rhythm activities.
Barabási already undertook similar work with mobile phone data in 2008, which war published as an article in nature, by Gonzalez MC, Hidalgo CA, Barabasi A-L. with the title ‘Understanding individual human mobility patterns’. In this article they analysed data of 100’000 mobile phones. Was the media coverage back then (two years) very much concerned about privacy issues related to the data source, for example NYTimes is this less of an issue. Nevertheless it is obvious that the researchers try to play it save by mentioning about ten times in the article that they work with anonymized data.
The argument is largely the same in both articles and the finding too. In both papers the researchers show their surprise about the outcome, that the movement can be predicted. However to my surprise they stick to their study and do not draw any strong links to routines and rhythms of personal habits. You can listen to a podcast where Barabási talks about this research.
In the more recent paper they conclude “At a more fundamental level, they also indicate that, despite our deep-rooted desire for change and spontaneity, our daily mobility is, in fact, characterized by a deep-rooted regularity.”
I believe that the former, spontaneity, is very much a cultural phenomenon similar to the urge to stay young. The later, regularity, is the provider of identity and orientation resulting in stability and safety and therefor fundamental to human everyday life. Interesting should be Barabási’s upcomming new book Burst on “The Hidden Patterns Behind Everything We Do”.

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“For President Obama’s 100th day in office, the MIT SENSEable City Lab has created visualizations of mobile phone call activity that characterize the inaugural crowd and answer the questions: Who was in Washington, D.C. for President Obama’s Inauguration Day?”
The team arond Carlo Ratti has not only recently visualized and analyzed mobile phone data. They have been experimenting with this data source for a while and produced number of interesting projects. There are the great visualizations for Rome that show mobile phone activities during the Madonna concert, done mainly by Jon Reades.
Reads is again involved with this project set up round Obma’s inauguration day back in January. This time the mobile phone call data from around the ceremony’s location is analyzed. It is analyzed regarding amount of activity and destination of the call, either world wide or per american state. THe time period they are looking at is the full week in which the inauguration took place.

Isn’t it amazing what can be done with a mobile phone call data set? Yes and No. Yes, because there is a great deal of information hidden in the data and results of who is watching and presumably reporting this back home is interesting compared to the results of the election. Questions like did states who voted for Obama attend the ceremony or did mainly states that voted for McCain follow he ceremony live, are of interest. But it has o be said, that the visualizations from the clip are very difficult to understand. There is probably too much being communicated at the same time. The two lines of information along the left hand side and the bottom together with the animation in the centre are confusing. Earlier visualz comming out of the lab where using a different graphic and I fond where simpler to understand, such as the New York Talk exchange or the Puls of the Planet.

Image from senseable.mit.edu/obama – click for beter resolution version)

The No for the second part of the answer probably goes for “if we can do it, we might not wana do it” or not everything we can do, we actually want to do. The MIT shows here that it is possible to map and animate this kind of information. Potentially even in real time, although they are taking 100 days to do it (this is most like a problem with the mobile phone companies, but nevertheless it might be possible to generate instant visualz of this kind of data. THe problem lies with the interpretation of it. This is not as instant as the visual. It takes time to understand the content and to define a reasonable bit to compare it to. As shown in this example the pro Obama votes.
So it is not quite what they sel it to be, but it is still a great visualization of space-time data – the Obam aquarium if you want.


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To introduce and advertise the Nokia Nseries, the company sent out four bloggers equipped with N82’s, obviously, and tracks them on their website.

Image taken from the urbanista diaries website

They blog and upload pictures and all the information accessible on the website. Visitors can closely follow the four participants journeys. Their journeys is logged by the device internal GPS and accompanied by a mobile blog. There are also images and videos added. Examples from Jen in India

The project is called The Urbanista Diaries. When accessing it now the project seems to have come to an end. It must have taken place about a year ago (very late blogging). It appears to be technically based on the Nokia SportTracker application. A quick look at this application gives the impression of a no-so-much used offer. It should be online for quite some time now but in the London area there is only one publicly visible track log to find. Not much for an area of 8m with at least 40% Nokia market share.
But the diaries are interesting because built on the experience Nokia has later in 2008 finalized their development for a public location-based-content-sharing platform Nokia viNe.
Nokia offers its own maps pre installed to be used on the device. The Maps contain way-finding options and can guide users through the environment. The developers at Nokia (maybe the marketing guys) must have come up with the idea to also add information but not only to receive. This is what the cool slogan refers to: THE WEB. NOW MADE BY HAND. So it is a hand job again!

Nokia has created a web platform called Nokia viNe where users can upload their journeys to share with others. It was introduced in late 2008 after a rename from Nokia LiveviNe to Nokia viNe. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​For anyone wondering what viNe might bear in meaning check this out: “A viNe is any plant of genus Vitis (the grape plants) or, by extension, any similar climbing or trailing plant.” (Wikipedia here) ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The remaining question could be whether the name dives from the graphics for the product, ranking line with styled leaves, or the other way round? I would say this is goo​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​d marketing!​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Image taken from Nokia viNe website

T​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​he trip data is displayed on a (Nokia) map. The track data can also contain additional information such as images (the Nseries models are e​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​quipped with state of the art mobile phone cameras),​​ ​​​​​​​​​​​​​v​​​​​i​​​​d​​e​​​o​​ ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​(​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​t​​​h​​​​​e​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ ​​​​​d​​e​​​​​v​​​​i​​​​c​​e​​​​​​​​s​​​​​ ​​​a​​​​​​​​r​​e​​​​ ​​​​​c​​​a​​​​​​​​​​​​​p​​​​a​​​​​​​​​​​​​​b​​​​l​​​​e​​​​ ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​o​​​​f​​ ​​​​​​​c​​a​​​​​p​​​​​​​​​​​t​​​​u​​​​​r​​​​i​​n​​g​​​​ ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​v​​​​​i​​​​​d​​e​​o​​​​​s​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ ​​-​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​h​​​​e​​​​​​​​​​l​​​​l​​​​​​o​​​ ​​​​​​i​​​​​​P​​​​​​h​​​​​o​​n​​​​e​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​)​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ ​​​a​​n​​​​d​​ ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​m​​​​​u​​​​​s​​i​​​​​​​​​​​​k​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ ​​​​​​​​(​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​w​​​​​e​​​​​​​​​l​​​​l​​ ​​​​​​​t​​​h​​​​e​​​​​​y​​​​​ ​​​​​​​c​​a​​n​​ ​​​​​​​​​​​​​p​​​l​​​​a​​​​​y​​ ​​​​​​​​m​​​​​u​​​​s​​​​i​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​c​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ ​​​​​t​​​​​​o​​​​o​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​)​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​a​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​l​​​​​a​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​y​​​​e​​​​​d​​​​ ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​during t​​h​​e​​ ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​t​​r​​​​i​​​​p​​​ ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​I​​ ​​​​​​​​​a​​​​​​​​​s​​​​s​​u​​​​​m​​e​​​​​​.​​ ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

After clicking in to the viNe page (it takes some time to load with my as it seems slow broadband connection) the first task is fiddling with the map and zooming in to a level that actually unveils some useful information. This appears to be a rather local level. But at the same time this level is not detailed enough and one would like to zoom in as we are used to from Google Earth or Google Maps. The level of detail is probably adjusted by the Nokia technicians and has to do with privacy and exact location identification.
I am surprised that the London area again (as with SportTracker above) is not densely cluttered with lines and colour full (the project colours appear to be Pin, Blue, Green) “leaves” It really is surprising that there seem to be not a single track around Bloomsbury. UCL campus with about 15’000 students and not a single Nokia Nseries viNe user?
Images show up as “green leaves”, videos are shown in pink and tunes in blue. Images are great to look at, videos buffering is not very good and this make it horrible to look at. Very annoying to me was that the blue leaves, music tracks do not play the music. How boring is this? I am one of these persons who cannot memorize words, names have no meaning to me. I want to look at things or in the case of music listen to it. (This is mot likely a copyright problem, I know, but what is the point of showing the information then?)

​Image Screenshot Nokia viNe – London

​Image Screenshot Nokia viNe – Bloomsbury

Exploring the map is fun though! There are some points I think do not work very well but actually I think the whole project is pretty cool and stylish as Nokia graphics usually are!

(Here used to be a viNe widget, but it looks like Nokia is not supporting this any longer. Was a nice little app to display data from viNe.)

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