Dynamic Estimation of Individual Exposure Levels to Air Pollution Using Mobile Phone Data

Mingxiao Li, Song Gao, Feng Lu, Huang Tong, Hengcai Zhang. (2019) Dynamic Estimation of Individual Exposure Levels to Air Pollution Using Trajectories Reconstructed from Mobile Phone Data. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 16(22), 4522. DOI: 10.3390/ijerph16224522

Abstract: The spatiotemporal variability in air pollutant concentrations raises challenges in linking air pollution exposure to individual health outcomes. Thus, understanding the spatiotemporal patterns of human mobility plays an important role in air pollution epidemiology and health studies. With the advantages of massive users, wide spatial coverage and passive acquisition capability, mobile phone data have become an emerging data source for compiling exposure estimates. However, compared with air pollution monitoring data, the temporal granularity of mobile phone data is not high enough, which limits the performance of individual exposure estimation. To mitigate this problem, we present a novel method of estimating dynamic individual air pollution exposure levels using trajectories reconstructed from mobile phone data. Using the city of Shanghai as a case study, we compared three different types of exposure estimates using (1) reconstructed mobile phone trajectories, (2) recorded mobile phone trajectories, and (3) residential locations. The results demonstrate the necessity of trajectory reconstruction in exposure and health risk assessment. Additionally, we measure the potential health effects of air pollution from both individual and geographical perspectives. This helped reveal the temporal variations in individual exposures and the spatial distribution of residential areas with high exposure levels. The proposed method allows us to perform large-area and long-term exposure estimations for a large number of residents at a high spatiotemporal resolution, which helps support policy-driven environmental actions and reduce potential health risks.

Full Paper about “Trajectory Reconstruction” accepted at Computers, Environment and Urban Systems

Citation info: Mingxiao Li, Song Gao, Feng Lu, Hengcai Zhang. (2019) Reconstruction of human movement trajectories from large-scale low-frequency mobile phone data. Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, Volume 77, September 2019, 101346. DOI: 


Understanding human mobility is important in many fields, such as geography, urban planning, transportation, and sociology. Due to the wide spatiotemporal coverage and low operational cost, mobile phone data have been recognized as a major resource for human mobility research. However, due to conflicts between the data sparsity problem of mobile phone data and the requirement of fine-scale solutions, trajectory reconstruction is of considerable importance. Although there have been initial studies on this problem, existing methods rarely consider the effect of similarities among individuals and the spatiotemporal patterns of missing data. To address this issue, we propose a multi-criteria data partitioning trajectory reconstruction (MDP-TR) method for large-scale mobile phone data. In the proposed method, a multi-criteria data partitioning (MDP) technique is used to measure the similarity among individuals in near real-time and investigate the spatiotemporal patterns of missing data. With this technique, the trajectory reconstruction from mobile phone data is then conducted using classic machine learning models. We verified the method using a real mobile phone dataset including 1 million individuals with over 15 million trajectories in a large city. Results indicate that the MDP-TR method outperforms competing methods in both accuracy and robustness. We argue that the MDP-TR method can be effectively utilized for grasping highly dynamic human movement status and improving the spatiotemporal resolution of human mobility research.