The Death and Life of Great Italian Cities: A Mobile Phone Data Perspective

Proceedings of the 26th International ACM Conference on World Wide Web (WWW), 2016

11 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2016  

Marco De Nadai

Fondazione Bruno Kessler; Università degli Studi di Trento

Jacopo Staiano

Université Paris VI Pierre et Marie Curie

Roberto Larcher

Telecom Italia

Nicu Sebe

Università degli Studi di Trento

Daniele Quercia

Bell Laboratories

Bruno Lepri

Fondazione Bruno Kessler

Date Written: April 1, 2016

Abstract

The Death and Life of Great American Cities was written in 1961 and is now one of the most influential book in city planning. In it, Jane Jacobs proposed four conditions that promote life in a city. However, these conditions have not been empirically tested until recently. This is mainly because it is hard to collect data about "city life". The city of Seoul recently collected pedestrian activity through surveys at an unprecedented scale, with an effort spanning more than a decade, allowing researchers to conduct the first study successfully testing Jacobs's conditions. In this paper, we identify a valuable alternative to the lengthy and costly collection of activity survey data: mobile phone data. We extract human activity from such data, collect land use and socio-demographic information from the Italian Census and Open Street Map, and test the four conditions in six Italian cities. Although these cities are very different from the places for which Jacobs's conditions were spelled out (i.e., great American cities) and from the places in which they were recently tested (i.e., the Asian city of Seoul), we find those conditions to be indeed associated with urban life in Italy as well. Our methodology promises to have a great impact on urban studies, not least because, if replicated, it will make it possible to test Jacobs's theories at scale.

Keywords: mobile phone data, cities, urban informatics, open data

Suggested Citation

De Nadai, Marco and Staiano, Jacopo and Larcher, Roberto and Sebe, Nicu and Quercia, Daniele and Lepri, Bruno, The Death and Life of Great Italian Cities: A Mobile Phone Data Perspective (April 1, 2016). Proceedings of the 26th International ACM Conference on World Wide Web (WWW), 2016. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2757851

Marco De Nadai (Contact Author)

Fondazione Bruno Kessler ( email )

Università degli Studi di Trento ( email )

Via Giuseppe Verdi 26
Trento, Trento 38152
Italy

Jacopo Staiano

Université Paris VI Pierre et Marie Curie ( email )

175 Rue du Chevaleret
Paris, 75013
France

Roberto Larcher

Telecom Italia ( email )

Corso d'Italia 41
Rome, 00198
United States

Nicu Sebe

Università degli Studi di Trento ( email )

Via Giuseppe Verdi 26
Trento, Trento 38152
Italy

Daniele Quercia

Bell Laboratories ( email )

600 Mountain Avenue
Murray Hill, NJ 07974
United States

Bruno Lepri

Fondazione Bruno Kessler ( email )

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