The impact of human mobility data scales and processing on movement predictability

Sci Rep. 2021 Jul 26;11(1):15177. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-94102-x.


Predictability of human movement is a theoretical upper bound for the accuracy of movement prediction models, which serves as a reference value showing how regular a dataset is and to what extent mobility can be predicted. Over the years, the predictability of various human mobility datasets was found to vary when estimated for differently processed datasets. Although attempts at the explanation of this variability have been made, the extent of these experiments was limited. In this study, we use high-precision movement trajectories of individuals to analyse how the way we represent the movement impacts its predictability and thus, the outcomes of analyses made on these data. We adopt a number of methods used in the last 11 years of research on human mobility and apply them to a wide range of spatio-temporal data scales, thoroughly analysing changes in predictability and produced data. We find that spatio-temporal resolution and data processing methods have a large impact on the predictability as well as geometrical and numerical properties of human mobility data, and we present their nonlinear dependencies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Databases, Factual
  • Electronic Data Processing
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Humans
  • London
  • Models, Biological
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Nonlinear Dynamics
  • Smartphone
  • Spatio-Temporal Analysis