Population Mobility Dynamics Estimated from Mobile Telephony Data

John Doyle*, Peter Hung, Ronan Farrell, Seán McLoone

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


In the last decade, mobile phones and mobile devices using mobile cellular telecommunication network connections have become ubiquitous. In several developed countries, the penetration of such devices has surpassed 100 percent. They facilitate communication and access to large quantities of data without the requirement of a fixed location or connection. Assuming mobile phones usually are in close proximity with the user, their cellular activities and locations are indicative of the user's activities and movements. As such, those cellular devices may be considered as a large scale distributed human activity sensing platform. This paper uses mobile operator telephony data to visualize the regional flows of people across the Republic of Ireland. In addition, the use of modified Markov chains for the ranking of significant regions of interest to mobile subscribers is investigated. Methodology is then presented which demonstrates how the ranking of significant regions of interest may be used to estimate national population, results of which are found to have strong correlation with census data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-132
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Urban Technology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 09 Jun 2014

Bibliographical note

Special issues: Mobility, Communication, and Urban Space


  • call detail records
  • imperfect trajectories
  • Markov chain
  • population estimation
  • stationary distribution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urban Studies


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