Interplay between Telecommunications and Face-to-Face Interactions: A Study Using Mobile Phone Data

, , , and . PLoS ONE 6 (7): e20814+ (Jul 13, 2011)


In this study we analyze one year of anonymized telecommunications data for over one million customers from a large European cellphone operator, and we investigate the relationship between people's calls and their physical location. We discover that more than 90\% of users who have called each other have also shared the same space (cell tower), even if they live far apart. Moreover, we find that close to 70\% of users who call each other frequently (at least once per month on average) have shared the same space at the same time - an instance that we call co-location. Co-locations appear indicative of coordination calls, which occur just before face-to-face meetings. Their number is highly predictable based on the amount of calls between two users and the distance between their home locations - suggesting a new way to quantify the interplay between telecommunications and face-to-face interactions.

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