“High Resolution Population Estimates from Telecommunications Data” (Douglass et al. 2015)

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Link to Paper (Open Access)

Description: Population censuses are expensive and infrequent, but cell phone data are plentiful and real-time; how can we use one to estimate the other? We investigate the relationship between calling activity and demography at a very high 235 square meter resolution in Northern Italy. We investigate the scale invariance of population and call volume and show that only above a specific cut-point are population and call volume approximately proportional. Further, we show that the relationship is highly dependent on land-use which we measure with a novel land-use map of Northern Italy developed from Landsat 8 satellite images user contributed labels from OpenStreetMap. Finally, we show that call data and land-use are sufficient to predict population counts with reasonable precision.

Citation: “High Resolution Population Estimates from Telecommunications Data” EPJ Data Science 2015, 4:4. With David A. Meyer, Megha Ram, David Rideout and Dongjin Song, Univ. California San Diego.

Notes: Top 10 finalist of 652 projects in Telecom Italia Big Data Challenge 2014.

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