Many Cities


The inventors demonstrate an interactive data visualization tool for understanding urban activity patterns through mobile phone data. This tool has application to mobile phone carriers as well as to global community members interested in leveraging aggregate mobile phone data across urban areas to generate unprecedented data-driven insights into modern cities.

Problems Addressed

Traditional methods for understanding where people live or work in urban cities typically involve analysis of historical census polling data. For a rapidly urbanizing and an increasingly digital global population, mobile phone data represents a complementary source of data that could provide a fresh perspective and further insight into how people navigate urban city centers in real-time.


This non-patented technology offers an intuitive tool for exploring mobile phone traffic and patterns, mapped onto urban spaces. The application is available for a wide spectrum of users interested in leveraging network-level aggregate data and exploring spatio-temporal patterns of mobile phone activity in cities across the world.

The application browses mobile phone traffic patterns in London, New York, Hong Kong, and Los Angeles over a certain period of time. The network-level data includes number of mobile calls, SMS and data requests, and amount of data uploaded and downloaded by mobile subscribers. The application produces graphs and maps of the underlying data, aggregated for the administrative areas of target cities. The software consists of a PHP server-side script that serves data to a front-end application. The inventors implemented the app with the JavaScript web framework Meteor. To draw graphs and maps, the application leverages third-party libraries.


  • Leverages aggregate traffic-based data
  • Enables insights about cities based on traffic patterns of business and residential areas
  • Facilitates data-driven analysis into how communities inhabit and move around cities