Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

IBM Optimizes Ivory Coast Bus Routes by Mining Mobile Phone Data

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, May 1 2013

Abidjan, Ivory Coast (credit: Flickr/SoCE)

Cell phone data might be the next indispensable resource for urban planners. Mining mobility data from 2.5 billion call records, a team of IBM researchers identified modifications to bus routes in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, which could slash travel time up to 10 percent.

The research was carried out as part of the French telecom Orange open data challenge Data for Development. Participating researchers gained access to 2.5 billion call and text message records exchanged between 5 million anonymous users. The resulting projects will be presented at a three-day conference at MIT, which begins today and goes until May 3.

The IBM team focused on mobility traces in Abidjan, whose transit system is made up of 539 large buses, 5,000 mini-buses and 11,000 shared taxis. This narrowed their data set to approximately 500,000 phones with relevant data. By tracking the location of the cell phone users as the phone registers at different towers, the mobility of users can be traced.

This is not entirely new territory for IBM. As part of the First-of-a-Kind Program, IMB has conducted similar research in partnership with Vodafone in Istanbul, Turkey, and on a much smaller scale in Dubuque, Iowa. The project, Insights in Motion, drew on transit data, geo-spacial information, census records and points-of-interest information as well as data from cell phones and smartphones. This results in a "digital tapestry of human transit movement."

Milind Naphade, the leader of Insights in Motion, said, "One thing I think about is how we have become slaves of the infrastructure rather than having the infrastructure work for us . . . Cities should help people live their lives, not get in the way."

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network for its generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.

News Briefs

RSS Feed tuesday >

First POST: Company

The global "Snowden effect" is huge; how many consumer-facing online services fail the user privacy test; the Dems' 2016 digital to-do list; and much, much more. GO

monday >

First POST: Mood Slime

The Sony email leak reveals the MPAA's campaign against Google; how Uber is lobbying in local markets; mapping the #MillionsMarchNYC; and much, much more. GO

friday >

First POST: Cloudy

What the Internet is not; new analysis of public opinion on net neutrality; how cloud backup apparently foiled a police coverup; and much, much more. GO

thursday >

First POST: Records

Is the future of citizen journalism vigilantism?; one tech mogul's vocal support for CIA torture; a cri de couer from the founder of the Pirate Bay; and much, much more. GO

Web Index Sees Impact of Net Neutrality, Surveillance and Copyright Laws

Denmark, Finland, Norway, the United Kingdom and Sweden have come out on top of the Web Index, a ranking of the Web Foundation measuring the economic, social and political benefit that countries gain from the web. The United States is at number six. For the authors of the report accompanying the index, the results reflect how inequality has an impact on access to the web. "Nordic policy-makers have been quick to adopt and promote the free Internet - and open access to information - as a 21st century public good," the report states. " Others, as this year's findings show, need to move fast to catch up." The report attributes the Scandinavian countries' advantage to the countries' broader efforts to invest in public goods and establish a welfare and acting against " excess concentrations of wealth and power." With the lower inequality in those countries than in others, "the skills, means and freedoms to benefit from new technologies are widespread, which helps to explain why Scandinavian countries score highly on the political, social and economic impact of the Web GO

More