Annotating mobile phone location data with activity purposes using machine learning algorithms

Expert Systems with Applications, Volume 40, Issue 8, 15 June 2013, Pages 3299-3311.
Feng Liu, Davy Janssens, Geert Wets, Mario Cools 


Transportation Research Institute (IMOB), Hasselt University, Wetenschapspark 5, Bus 6, B-3590 Diepenbeek, Belgium

TLU+C (Transport, Logistique, Urbanisme, Conception), 1 Chemin des Chevreuils, Bât B.52/3, 4000 Liège, Belgium



Individual human travel patterns captured by mobile phone data have been quantitatively characterized by mathematical models, but the underlying activities which initiate the movement are still in a less-explored stage. As a result of the nature of how activity and related travel decisions are made in daily life, human activity-travel behavior exhibits a high degree of spatial and temporal regularities as well as sequential ordering. In this study, we investigate to what extent the behavioral routines could reveal the activities being performed at mobile phone call locations that are captured when users initiate or receive a voice call or message.

Our exploration consists of four steps. First, we define a set of comprehensive temporal variables characterizing each call location. Feature selection techniques are then applied to choose the most effective variables in the second step. Next, a set of state-of-the-art machine learning algorithms including Support Vector Machines, Logistic Regression, Decision Trees and Random Forests are employed to build classification models. Alongside, an ensemble of the results of the above models is also tested. Finally, the inference performance is further enhanced by a post-processing algorithm.

Using data collected from natural mobile phone communication patterns of 80 users over a period of more than one year, we evaluated our approach via a set of extensive experiments. Based on the ensemble of the models, we achieved prediction accuracy of 69.7%. Furthermore, using the post processing algorithm, the performance obtained a 7.6% improvement. The experiment results demonstrate the potential to annotate mobile phone locations based on the integration of data mining techniques with the characteristics of underlying activity-travel behavior, contributing towards the semantic comprehension and further application of the massive data.


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