McCormick Magazine

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Tracking Human Movement


Understanding human movement is essential to addressing technological and policy issues ranging from urban planning to the modeling of epidemics. Here, McCormick researchers trace the travels of a single mobile phone user in Western Europe over nine months. During that time the user placed about 12,000 calls from 427 unique locations. Green lines track the user’s movement. Glowing lights indicate frequently visited locations, while the bright core indicates home and work. The colors of the lights indicate dynamically related locations called habitats, while wisps of color on the periphery highlight subsidiary habitats from additional travel. These habitats play a key role in studying human mobility and social interactions. 

Tracking human movement