Supervisors: prof Rein Ahas, prof Frank Witlox (Ghenti Ülikool, Belgia)
Opponent: prof Aharon Kellerman (Haifa Ülikool, Israel)
Contemporary society is characterised by the constant increase of mobility. Although individual mobilities can be seen as a new form of capital and the premise for innovation, this has also a negative impact on surrounding environment and social structures. Hence, human travel behaviour research is essential for understanding a myriad of different societal issues. To date, human travel behaviour has been thoroughly examined using activity-travel diaries predominantly based on short period of time (up to three days). The need to understand travel behaviour from a longitudinal (monthly, yearly) perspective has increased due to the overall increase of individual mobility, together with the increase of the complexity of human travel behaviour and its flexibility in space and time. Mobile phone based data are perceived to be one promising means to cost-effectively assess human movements and its variability in the prolonged perspective.
This dissertation ascertains how mobile phone based data can help us understand human travel behaviour. Therefore, three aims are the subject of this dissertation. First, it conceptualises the identification of spatial characteristics of human travel behaviour using mobile phone based data and proposes the methodology to measure it. Second, it extends the existing knowledge of human travel behaviour by complementary evidence from daily, monthly and yearly perspectives. Results suggest that intrapersonal variability in monthly spatial behaviour is predominantly explained by individual factors whereas the seasonal effect remains weak. In addition, some methodological weaknesses were found due to peculiarities of mobile phone based data that must be acknowledged while using the data in human travel behaviour studies. Third, this dissertation demonstrates three case studies on how the proposed methodology can be implemented to provide valuable knowledge on social processes and phenomena. The findings suggest that the proposed methodology can be applied to reveal the distribution of the population at the municipality level and to assess short-term population mobility, to reveal the composition of road users in a given road section and to estimate the distribution of traffic flows in the transportation network, and to delve into the phenomenon of segregation by assessing person based activity space segregation.
Based on the findings, this dissertation argues that (i) the call detail records of mobile phone users are a valuable addition to traditional data collection methods for revealing the spatial characteristics of human travel behaviour; (ii) the proposed methodology enables us to provide new insights on human travel behaviour in the prolonged perspective; and (iii) the proposed methodology is suitable for providing complementary knowledge to better understand social phenomena that is difficult to examine otherwise.