Measuring large-scale social networks with high resolution

PLoS One. 2014 Apr 25;9(4):e95978. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0095978. eCollection 2014.


This paper describes the deployment of a large-scale study designed to measure human interactions across a variety of communication channels, with high temporal resolution and spanning multiple years-the Copenhagen Networks Study. Specifically, we collect data on face-to-face interactions, telecommunication, social networks, location, and background information (personality, demographics, health, politics) for a densely connected population of 1000 individuals, using state-of-the-art smartphones as social sensors. Here we provide an overview of the related work and describe the motivation and research agenda driving the study. Additionally, the paper details the data-types measured, and the technical infrastructure in terms of both backend and phone software, as well as an outline of the deployment procedures. We document the participant privacy procedures and their underlying principles. The paper is concluded with early results from data analysis, illustrating the importance of multi-channel high-resolution approach to data collection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Phone / statistics & numerical data
  • Data Collection / methods
  • Denmark
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Social Networking*
  • Social Support

Grant support

The SensibleDTU project was made possible by a Young Investigator Grant from the Villum Foundation (High Resolution Networks, awarded to SL). Scaling the project up to 1 000 individuals in 2013 was made possible by a interdisciplinary UCPH 2016 grant, Social Fabric (PI David Dreyer Lassen, SL is co-PI) focusing mainly on the social and basic science elements of the project. This grant has funded purchase of the smartphones, as well as technical personnel. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.