Intra-urban human mobility patterns: An urban morphology perspective

Chaogui Kang, Xiujun Ma, Daoqin Tong, Yu Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

187 Scopus citations


This paper provides a new perspective on human motion with an investigation of whether and how patterns of human mobility inside cities are affected by two urban morphological characteristics: compactness and size. Mobile phone data have been collected in eight cities in Northeast China and used to extract individuals' movement trajectories. The massive mobile phone data provides a wide coverage and detailed depiction of individuals' movement in space and time. Considering that most individuals' movement is limited within particular urban areas, boundaries of urban agglomerations are demarcated based on the spatial distribution of mobile phone base towers. Results indicate that the distribution of human's intra-urban travel in general follows the exponential law. The exponents, however, vary from city to city and indicate the impact of city sizes and shapes. Individuals living in large or less compact cities generally need to travel farther on a daily basis, and vice versa. A Monte Carlo simulation analysis based on Levy flight is conducted to further examine and validate the relation between intra-urban human mobility and urban morphology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1702-1717
Number of pages16
JournalPhysica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 15 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Intra-urban human mobility
  • Monte Carlo simulation
  • Spatial heterogeneity constrained Levy flight model
  • Urban morphology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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