Locative Lab

researching locative media

Reality Mine!

CitysenseWe last visited the emerging discipline of Reality Mining towards the end of 2007, in an examination of the work of MIT’s Nathan Eagle’s analysis of the usage patterns and movements of mobile users.

In the last few days there have been a pair of interesting developments in the field. Firstly, a report from the BBC on a large scale study by Albert-László Barabási at Boston’s Northeastern University and secondly, the launch of Sense Network’s Citysense.

Barabási’s work is notable as the author of the seminal book Linked, exploring the science of human networks. Over the course of six months Barabási’s study followed 100′000 individuals randomly selected and anonymised European mobile users. Their calling and messaging habits were logged along with their location, revealing that most people tend to move within 5-10km ranges throughout the course of their day-to-day lives, generally between the same sets of several locations.

Understanding that clusters of people behave similarly has useful implications for analysing traffic and disease control as well as enabling a new generation of commuter information services and criminal intelligence.

Separately, the launch of Citysense is interesting in that it’s perhaps the highest profile, commercial reality mining service currently available. Currently, available only in San Francisco, the service assists users in discovering social hotspots around the city, answering the question – “Where is everybody?”.

Taking in realtime reality-mined data, Citysense utilises public data from Google and Yelp to surface vanues and events and render them on ‘heat-map’ of the city.

As more mobile usage data becomes available to developers and privacy models evolve to help users control their presence, the emerging field of reality mining is set to unlock the real value of mobility and ubiquitous connectivity.

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Cityscape LocativeLab.org is Ronald Lenz's research website on locative & mobile media. This is mostly an archive of blogposts I find inspiring and interesting and an overview of my work. I'm a strategist, technologist and researcher in the field of Location-Based Mobile Services and work at Waag Society, a medialab in Amsterdam, The Netherlands where I head the Locative Media research program and at 7scenes, a platform for GPS games and tours as creative director. Picture 4 Find me at Twitter, LinkedIn or via ronald [at] waag [dot] org.

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