MIT researchers map city by cellphone
Can you see me now?
Street map of Graz, Austria, overlaid with an electronic visualization of cellphone activity.
Researchers at MIT may not be able to hear your cellphone call, but they have found a way to see it. They mapped a city in real time by tracking tens of thousands of people traveling about carrying cellphones.
Using anonymous cellphone data provided by the leading cellphone operator in Austria, A1/Mobilkom, the researchers developed the Mobile Landscapes project, creating electronic maps of cellphone use in the metropolitan area of Graz, Austria, the countrys second-largest city.
The researchers used three types of data -- density of cellphone calls, origins and destinations of the calls, and position of users tracked at regular intervals -- to create computer-generated images that can be overlayed with one another and with geographic and street maps of a city to show the peaks and valleys of the landscape as well as peaks in cellphone use.
"For the first time ever we are able to visualize the full dynamics of a city in real time," said project leader Carlo Ratti, an architect/engineer and head of the SENSEable City Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "This opens up new possibilities for urban studies and planning. The real-time city is now real: a system that is able to continuously sense its condition and can quickly react to its criticalities," he added.
In recent years, techniques to locate and track mobile devices have become increasingly available; such techniques were crucial to law enforcement officials in their investigation of the Madrid and London terrorist bombings. MITs Mobile Landscapes project takes advantage of these techniques at an unprecedented scale by mapping an entire urban region continually at regular intervals.
The continuously changing electronic maps, which have a surprising aesthetic appeal, will be displayed at the M-City Exhibition at the Kunsthaus Graz from Oct. 1 to Jan. 8. Visitors to the show will be invited to participate in the electronic tracking by sending text messages to a server. "This participatory act aims to engage them in the issues of social networks and distributed interaction, but also on the possible drawbacks of limited privacy and geographical surveillance," Ratti said.
The research could also have implications for use in large-scale emergencies and for transportation engineers seeking ways to better manage freeway traffic.
In addition to Ratti, designers on the project include MIT graduate students Daniel Berry, Sonya Huang, Xiongjiu Liao, Andrea Mattiello, Eugenio Morello and Andres Sevtsuk, and sophomore Daniel Gutierrez, senior David Lee and junior Jia Lou. The exhibition is funded by A1/Mobilkom, which provided data and technical assistance to MITs SENSEable City Laboratory.
Denise Brehm | EurekAlert!
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:
Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers
Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...
Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.
At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...
3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects
A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...
Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.
For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...
What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.
To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...