Archive for February 2nd, 2012

Birth rate measured by looking at cell phones?

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012 by Roberto Saracco

Every day a deluge of data is created by cell phones all around the world. And we are just starting to learn how to dig into these data and mine information.

Men and women have different social patterns once you look at their cell phone calls

Clearly, they can tell us the traffic in a given area, they can tell us about the spreading of flu and they can also tell us about social groups of various kinds.

The more information you can have about a certain call (like the gender of the owner and its age range) the more sophisticated analyses can be performed. Clearly, the more information, the more privacy issues are at stake. But let’s disregard for a moment these aspects and focus on what we can learn in terms of social behavior.

This is what is being done at the Aalto University (one of the EIT Partner) by prof. Vasyl Palchykov  who has been able to acquire 2 billion call records among 1.4 million women and 1.8 million men with attached information on the age range. Now these are big data!

The analyses have involved Barabasi (yes, one of the theorists of the Small Worlds) and Dumbar (yes, the one inventing the Dumbar number).

The outcome of the analyses show how much women focus of social relations with men during their fertile period and how this focus shifts to their offsprings once the fertile period is over.
Conversely, men have more fleeting relationship with the other gender and dedicate more time to same gender best friends…

Probably not a surprise, since it reflects the behavior of relationships we notice every day. Still it is interesting to note how much information can be derived by analyzing call records…

This decade will be characterized by a growing capability to analyze data and correlate them. In Italy, every day, we see hundreds of millions of emails, tens of million of SMS and calls, 1.5 million medical prescriptions, over 500 million images of people take by security cameras, 4 million bank transactions,  130 thousands vehicles recorded by road cameras just in Milan. Just imagine what would be possible if those data could be correlated!