Using mobile phones to track … pretty much everything

Courtesy of the BBC, and thanks to the ubiquity of cell phones:

Researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are using data from mobile-phone networks to create real time maps of people moving around the city.

“This is really the first time that you can take an urban system, like a big city, and try to see in real time how it lives, how people move and what’s happening in (Rome),” says Carlo Ratti from MIT.

“In the city for example you’ve got taxis with GPS, you’ve got buses with GPS, and also you’ve got mobile phones.

“If you take that information and you apply artificial intelligence and algorithms to it, then you can understand very interesting things about the urban system,” he says.

What’s it all mean? One result could be –

Better route planning for buses and cars could mean less time standing in traffic, pumping out noxious fumes.

Fascinating stuff. From Charlottesville’s perspective, analyzing traffic patterns could very well lead to smarter transportation methods. Shoot, if they’d just quit stopping the bus for five minutes on Route 29 during rush hour, that would be a success.

Via TechCrunch.

And a funny story (via VC) at Wired regarding hyperlocal and mobiles.

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