Modeling and Understanding Intrinsic Characteristics of Human Mobility



Humans are intrinsically social creatures and our mobility is central to understanding how our societies grow and function. Movement allows us to congre- gate with our peers, access things we need, and exchange information. Human mo- bility has huge impacts on topics like urban and transportation planning, social and biologic spreading, and economic outcomes. Modeling these processes has how- ever been hindered so far 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 statisti- cal 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.

Springer Chapter.