Quantifying multi-dimensional attributes of human activities at various geographic scales based on smartphone tracking. Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: Advancement in location-aware technologies, and information and communication technology in the past decades has furthered our knowledge of the interaction between human activities and the built environment. An increasing number of studies have collected data regarding individual activities to better understand how the environment shapes human behavior. Despite this growing interest, some challenges exist in collecting and processing individual's activity data, e.g., capturing people's precise environmental contexts and analyzing data at multiple spatial scales. METHODS: In this study, we propose and implement an innovative system that integrates smartphone-based step tracking with an app and the sequential tile scan techniques to collect and process activity data. We apply the OpenStreetMap tile system to aggregate positioning points at various scales. We also propose duration, step and probability surfaces to quantify the multi-dimensional attributes of activities. RESULTS: Results show that, by running the app in the background, smartphones can measure multi-dimensional attributes of human activities, including space, duration, step, and location uncertainty at various spatial scales. By coordinating Global Positioning System (GPS) sensor with accelerometer sensor, this app can save battery which otherwise would be drained by GPS sensor quickly. Based on a test dataset, we were able to detect the recreational center and sports center as the space where the user was most active, among other places visited. CONCLUSION: The methods provide techniques to address key issues in analyzing human activity data. The system can support future studies on behavioral and health consequences related to individual's environmental exposure.

published proceedings

  • Int J Health Geogr

altmetric score

  • 5.1

author list (cited authors)

  • Zhou, X., & Li, D.

citation count

  • 11

complete list of authors

  • Zhou, Xiaolu||Li, Dongying

publication date

  • May 2018