Linked activity spaces: Embedding social networks in urban space

Yaoli Wang, Chaogui Kang, Luís M.A. Bettencourt, Yu Liu, Clio Andris

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

29 Scopus citations


We examine the likelihood that a pair of sustained telephone contacts (e.g. friends, family, professional contacts, called “friends”) uses the city similarly. Using call data records from Jiamusi, China, we estimate a proxy for the daily activity spaces of each individual subscriber by interpolating the points of geo-located cell towers he or she uses most frequently. We then calculate the overlap of the polygonal activity spaces of two established telephone contacts, what we call linked activity spaces. Our results show that friends and second-degree friends (e.g. friends of friends) are more likely to geographically overlap than random pairs of users. Additionally, individuals with more friends and with many network triangles (connected groups of three friends) tend to congregate in the city’s downtown at a rate that surpasses randomness. We also find that the downtown is used by many social groups but that each suburb only hosts one or two groups. We discuss our findings in terms of the need for a better understanding of spatialised social capital in urban planning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationComputational Approaches for Urban Environments
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9783319114699
ISBN (Print)9783319114682
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)


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