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Discussion with Davide 7 Jan 2010

January 8th, 2010 No comments

Had a discussion with Davide in our cube, about the direction for 2010, he summarised it in an email as follows:

Here are a few ideas which came out in our chat this afternoon…

1. We have to set up a plan for your PhD: it should be something related to mobile phone networks: collecting a rich dataset (looking for what, in particular?), using it (which analysis shall we do on it?), and writing (useful) applications based on that.

2. It would be interesting to study and discover hidden patterns in the phone-mobility network. For example, a person could attend the same locations of somebody else wihtout noticing it, and this could be exploited in finding new friends on FB or new collaborations in a research environment.

3. Mobile phones could be used as probes to collect spatial informations, such as popularity, traffic, access points, temperature, pressure, ecc…

4. An application could be based on finding out a useful spot for installing a power socket, or discovering somebody with a charger when I need it…

5. It would be interesting to check if we can find out “meeting with strangers” in the dataset by Kevin McCarthy, but we still should ask them if they know each other or not.

6. We are going to meet with Kevin McCarthy this month and ask him what they are going to do with their data (and maybe do some work together).

The main points I remember are:

I said that over Christmas I had realised that what we/I am really interested in, is discovering the hidden patterns of life that are around us all the time, but that we cannot see, and in this example, the movement of the inhabitants of a city.

There needs to be some application for this knowledge, for example, Davide suggested a social network application (see above) that detects the presence of other users, and if you are not allready friends on facebook, then maybe you should be if you come into contact with them regularly. He suggested it might be better if we confined it to researchers in a seminar – if you attend the same seminars as others, you should probably be aquainted.

I re-iterated my idea about having a platform upon which many applications could sit, for example the FB app. (above) sits next to other applications that run over the general system, which gives methods and triggers to the application when another user is in proximity (e.g. who is nearby, and methods to communicate with them). This could be implented directly (using bluetooth lookups etc.) or centrally using a combination of location, bluetooth lookups and a shared server.

This platform could be used as a test-bed for researchers too – e.g. researchers could run simple experiments over this network such as testing infection rates in a more realistic environment.

The carrot is the intersting applications that users can use, the reward (for us) is collecting this social interaction data and the stick is having to run the application on the phone.

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