University Consortium for Geographic Information Science
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Mobility & Place: Using human mobility patterns for identifying place similarity
Wednesday, March 17, 2021, 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM EST
Category: Webinars

Mobility & Place: Using human mobility patterns for identifying place similarity

DescriptionHow, where, and when we move around our environments can tell us a lot about the environments themselves, as well as the places and people that inhabit these regions. Given the dynamics of human mobility, access to movement patterns is often more informative than traditionally descriptive content about a region. With the ubiquitous adoption of context-aware devices, we now have access to an unprecedented volume of human mobility data, at increasingly high spatial and temporal resolutions. These data can be used in the construction of place-based similarity models, allowing us to better understand the nuanced differences between regions, a task that can be complex due to the often vague definition of place. In this talk I will touch on a range of topics as seen through the lens of human mobility. The purpose being to demonstrate some of the ways that mobility data can be used to better understand the spaces and places around us. Three applied research projects, at three different scales, will be presented. These include computational analyses based on high resolution micromobility trajectories, user-generated geo-social content, and national government COVID-19 mobility policies. Through this presentation I aim to continue the argument that human mobility, at an scale, is an essential dimension on which to identify the similarities and differences between places.

Presenter: Grant McKenzie is an assistant professor of spatial data science in the Department of Geography at McGill University. At McGill, Grant leads the Platial Analysis Lab, an interdisciplinary research group that works at the intersection of information science and behavioural geography. Much of Grant's work examines how human activity patterns vary within and between local regions and global communities. This has driven his applied interests in financial accessibility, geo-privacy, and shared-mobility services as well as the broader role that geographic information science plays at the intersection of information technologies and society. Grant is a founding member of the Seattle-based start-up consultancy Spatial Development International and has worked as a data scientist and software developer for a range of NGOs and leading technology companies. Twitter: @grantdmckenzie, Website:, and Lab:


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