Electronic maps track cell-phone use
by Matthew Miller - December 5, 2005
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Mobile Landscapes project have mapped the city of Graz, Austria, in real time by monitoring the usage of tens of thousands of cell phones. The researchers obtained anonymous cell-phone data from the leading cell-phone operator in Austria, A1/Mobilkom (www.a1.net), to develop the project. The technology creates electronic maps of cell-phone use in the metropolitan area of Graz, Austria's second-largest city.
To obtain the maps, researchers used the density, origins, and destinations of cell-phone calls and the position of users they tracked at regular intervals. They used this data to create computer-generated images that they then overlay with one another and with geographic and street maps of a city to show the peaks and valleys of the landscape, as well as the peaks in cell-phone use (photo). Locating and tracking mobile devices target use in law enforcement and urban planning. "This technology opens up new possibilities for urban studies and planning," says Carlo Ratti, an architect and engineer at MIT. "The real-time city is now real: a system that can continuously sense its condition and can quickly react." To learn more, go to http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2005/cellphones.html. For real-time images of Graz, go to http://senseable.mit.edu/projects/graz/graz.htm.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, www.mit.edu.