A universal model for mobility and migration patterns

Day - Time: 24 June 2011, h.15:00
Place: Area della Ricerca CNR di Pisa - Room: C-29
  • Filippo Simini (Northeastern University)

Fosca Giannotti


The gravity law, widely used to predict the number of commuters between two geographic locations or administrative areas, has played a central role in the past half century in epidemic forecast, urban planning and transportation research. Despite its widespread use, it relies on adjustable parameters that vary from region to region and some of its predictions are demonstrably at odds with reality. We introduce a stochastic process capturing local mobility decisions that helps us analytically derive an alternative to the gravity model. The parameter-free radiation model we derive predicts mobility patterns that are statistically indistinguishable from the real mobility and transport patterns in a wide range of phenomena, from hourly mobility and long-term migration patterns to commodity flows and the volume of communication between different regions. Given its parameter-free nature, the model can be applied in areas where we lack previous flux measurements, offering the potential to significantly improve the predictive accuracy of most of phenomena affected by transport and mobility patterns.