2006 volume 33(5) pages 727 – 748

Cite as:
Ratti C, Pulselli R M, Williams S, Frenchman D, 2006, "Mobile Landscapes: using location data from cell phones for urban analysis" Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design 33(5) 727 – 748

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Mobile Landscapes: using location data from cell phones for urban analysis

Carlo Ratti, Riccardo Maria Pulselli, Sarah Williams, Dennis Frenchman

Received 18 February 2005; in revised form 20 September 2005

Abstract. The technology for determining the geographic location of cell phones and other handheld devices is becoming increasingly available. It is opening the way to a wide range of applications, collectively referred to as location-based services (LBS), that are primarily aimed at individual users. However, if deployed to retrieve aggregated data in cities, LBS could become a powerful tool for urban analysis. In this paper we aim to review and introduce the potential of this technology to the urban planning community. In addition, we present the ‘Mobile Landscapes’ project: an application in the metropolitan area of Milan, Italy, based on the geographical mapping of cell phone usage at different times of the day. The results enable a graphic representation of the intensity of urban activities and their evolution through space and time. Finally, a number of future applications are discussed and their potential for urban studies and planning is assessed.

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