Regularity and Predictability of Human Mobility in Personal Space

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  • Fundamental laws governing human mobility have many important applications such as forecasting and controlling epidemics or optimizing transportation systems. These mobility patterns, studied in the context of out of home activity during travel or social interactions with observations recorded from cell phone use or diffusion of money, suggest that in extra-personal space humans follow a high degree of temporal and spatial regularity – most often in the form of time-independent universal scaling laws. Here we show that mobility patterns of older individuals in their home also show a high degree of predictability and regularity, although in a different way than has been reported for out-of-home mobility. Studying a data set of almost 15 million observations from 19 adults spanning up to 5 years of unobtrusive longitudinal home activity monitoring, we find that in-home mobility is not well represented by a universal scaling law, but that significant structure (predictability and regularity) is uncovered when explicitly accounting for contextual data in a model of in-home mobility. These results suggest that human mobility in personal space is highly stereotyped, and that monitoring discontinuities in routine room-level mobility patterns may provide an opportunity to predict individual human health and functional status or detect adverse events and trends.
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  • Austin D, Cross RM, Hayes T, Kaye J (2014) Regularity and Predictability of Human Mobility in Personal Space. PLoS ONE 9(2): e90256. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0090256
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  • 9
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  • 2
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  • This work was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Aging under Grants R01AG024059, P30 AG024978,and P30AG008017. Some of the computers used to collect data in this study were purchased with funds from Intel Corporation.



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