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Cell phones show human movement predictable 93% of the time

February 25th, 2010

MindSet

We all know that Cell (Mobile) phones can be used to track us with ease, using triangulation of the constant signal from the phone to the cell tower, but did you know this...

It's not currently possible to know exactly where everyone is all the time, but cell phones can provide a pretty good approximation. Cell phone companies store records of customers' locations based on when the customers' phones connect to towers during calls. Researchers realized that taking this data and paring it down to users who place calls more frequently might allow them to see if they could develop any measure of how predictable human movements and locations are. The users they worked with placed calls an average of once every two hours, connecting to towers that cover an area of about two square miles.

So, it seems that people in general are very predictable in their daily movements and habits.

Customers that stuck to the same six-mile radius had predictability rates of 97 to 93 percent, and this fell off as the typical area of travel grew. But the predictability eventually stabilized, and remained at 93 percent even as the radius of travel rose to thousands of miles. Regardless of how widely they traveled, the researchers could adequately predict their locations, down to the specific tower, 93 percent of the time.

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