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Everyday space–time geographies: using mobile phone-based sensor data to monitor urban activity in Harbin, Paris, and Tallinn

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This paper proposes a methodology for using mobile telephone-based sensor data for detecting spatial and temporal differences in everyday activities in cities. Mobile telephone-based sensor data has great applicability in developing urban monitoring tools and smart city solutions. The paper outlines methods for delineating indicator points of temporal events referenced as ‘midnight’, ‘morning start’, ‘midday’, and ‘duration of day’, which represent the mobile telephone usage of residents (what we call social time) rather than solar or standard time. Density maps by time quartiles were also utilized to test the versatility of this methodology and to analyze the spatial differences in cities. The methodology was tested with data from cities of Harbin (China), Paris (France), and Tallinn (Estonia). Results show that the developed methods have potential for measuring the distribution of temporal activities in cities and monitoring urban changes with georeferenced mobile phone data.
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Keywords: geography; mobile positioning; smart city; social time; spatial mobility; time use; urban

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Geography, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia 2: Department of Geography, Texas State University - San Marcos, San Marcos, USA 3: Institute of Cartography and Geoinformation, ETH Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland 4: Sociology and Economics of Networks and Services department/Orange Labs, Paris, France 5: Institute of Remote Sensing and Geographical Information Systems, Peking University, Beijing, China 6: Department of Geography, University of Kentucky, Lexington, USA

Publication date: November 2, 2015

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