New Approaches to Human Mobility: Using Mobile Phones for Demographic Research

John Palmer, Princeton University
Thomas J. Espenshade, Princeton University
Frederic Bartumeus, Center for Advanced Studies of Blanes (CEAB)
Chang Y. Chung, Princeton University
Necati Ozgencil, Syncsort
Kathleen Li, Google

This article explores new methods for gathering and analyzing spatially rich demographic data with mobile phones. It describes a pilot study in which mobile phone users around the world were successfully recruited to share GPS- and cellular-tower-based information on their movements and respond to dynamic, location-based surveys using an open-source Android application. The pilot study illustrates the great potential of mobile phone methodology for moving spatial measures beyond residential census units and investigating a range of important social phenomena, including the heterogeneity of activity spaces, the dynamic nature of spatial segregation and the contextual dependence of subjective well-being.

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Presented in Session 133: Social Media, Digital Tracks and Demography