Special Session “Big data for mobilities studies: Applications and critical perspectives”

Special session at 2018 International Geographical Union Regional Conference

Quebec City 6-10 August

The quantity and variety of Big Data have been increasing in recent years due to a network of sensors and portables, but also due to the use of Internet and social networks. This information is generated at great velocity which enables the study of dynamic processes in almost “real time”. In the technological era, human activity leaves a digital trace and frequently this trace is geolocalized. Some examples are the use of GPS for navigation, the activity/signal registered by our smartphones, the use of transport intelligent cards, bike renting systems, the use of credit cards or social networks.

These new sources of data are very useful for studying mobility patterns and improving transport planning. Therefore, we can estimate transit travel times using the API of Google Maps or TomTom data, or we can calculate origin and destination matrices using the activity recorded by our smartphones or transport intelligent cards. Traffic flows can be estimated using mobile phone data or using the video cameras to count cars or citizens in a street. Furthermore, public bicycle parking spots can be used to study their origin and destination flows and car parking data is useful to observe the number of cars parked in different locations. On the other hand, social networks are a valuable source of data for mobility pattern analysis, but also, we can look into qualitative aspects related with mobility by using semantic intelligence techniques.​

Big Data also raises the issue of both its technical and scientific limits. There is a big challenge in knowing the biases’ magnitude associated with Big Data. Knowing what or who is covered depends on the source of data and whether it is representative of different social groups and different kinds of mobilities.​ Therefore within this session there will be room to also debate about data quality, potential biases (e.g., related to the use of data obtained from a single phone provider, use of social networks etc.) and various data restrictions.

If you are interested to participate in this special session, please send an abstract of your presentation (max 250 words, including the object of study, research problem, methods, and conclusions), authors’ affiliation and contact details to  Ana Condeço – Melhorado (acondeco@ucm.es ) by 15 February 2018. We will notify contributors of acceptance as they went along and by 22 February 2018 for last submissions.

Accepted contributors will then need to submit their abstract to the conference by 15 March 2018 at 11:59 pm EST through http://igu2018.ulaval.ca/registration-submission/how-to-submit/. This step involves to first pay conference fees (see pricelist at http://igu2018.ulaval.ca/registration-submission/fees/).