Individual Trajectory Reconstruction from Mobile Network Data

Abstract : Mobile phone data are a popular source of positioning information in many recent studies that have largely improved our understanding of human mobility. These data consist of time-stamped and geo-referenced communication events recorded by network operators, on a per-subscriber basis. They allow for unprecedented tracking of populations of millions of individuals over long time periods that span months. Nevertheless, due to the uneven processes that govern mobile communications, the sampling of user locations provided by mobile phone data tends to be sparse and irregular in time, leading to substantial gaps in the resulting trajectory information. In this paper, we illustrate the severity of the problem through an empirical study of a large-scale Call Detail Records (CDR) dataset. We then propose Context-enhanced Trajectory Reconstruction, a new technique to complete individual CDR-based trajectories that hinges on tensor factorization as a core method. The proposed solution infers missing locations with a median displacement within two network cells from the actual position of the user, on a hourly basis and even when as little as 1% of her original mobility is known. Our approach lets us revisit seminal works in the light of complete mobility data, unveiling potential biases that incomplete trajectories obtained from legacy CDR induce on key results about human mobility laws, trajectory uniqueness, and movement predictability.
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Guangshuo Chen, Aline Carneiro Viana, Marco Fiore, Carlos Sarraute. Individual Trajectory Reconstruction from Mobile Network Data. [Technical Report] RT-0495, INRIA Saclay - Ile-de-France. 2018, pp.1-23. ⟨hal-01675570v2⟩

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