Web tool visualises mobile traffic across major cities

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have built an interactive website that visualises mobile phone use in some of the world’s biggest cities.

ManyCities, which is free for anyone to use, relies on data from Ericsson to highlight SMS and data traffic, as well as the number of phone calls made in London, Hong Kong, New York and Los Angeles. The figures were compiled between April 2013 and January 2014 from base stations in these cities, gizmodo.com reports.

While the tool only provides visualisations for the aforementioned locations, it is possible to zoom in to each and compare data across neighbourhoods.

You can, for example, see that in a typical week, people in Camden tend to send more text messages than mobile users in neighbouring Islington. The opposite is true for voice calls, however. There’s also a noticeable spike in SMS activity on New Year’s Eve.

The site was put together by a team at MIT’s SENSEable City Laboratory, led by Dániel Kondor. He explained: “The aggregated data does not include any sensitive customer information, but provides enough detail about the typical usage patterns on the scale of small neighbourhoods.”

Interestingly, the tool shows that data consumption in London falls significantly in the evening, while it rises in both New York and Hong Kong. Kondor and his team put this down to data costs being higher in the UK.