A simple guide to People Movement Data

July 10, 2023

People Movement Data is a powerful and relatively new geospatial dataset, so where exactly does it come from and what can it be used for?

What is People Movement Data?

People Movement Data (sometimes known as human movement data or mobility data) is an aggregated dataset that’s constantly being gathered from the GPS location events of millions of mobile devices across the globe. The owners of these devices – which includes mobile phones, cars and fitness trackers – have opted in to have travel data collected through a number of different mobile apps using Location Based Services (LBS). Apps that use LBS typically require a mobile device’s geographic location to serve a purpose to the user in real-time. These location events, which include a latitude, longitude and timestamp, are then captured by the data provider.

People Movement Data samples between 3-8% of the world’s population, which brings up the question: how accurate is it? Businesses like VLC, the creator of Planwisely, have undertaken ground truthing research that demonstrates definitive correlations between sample datasets and People Movement Data. This research effectively confirms the validity of People Movement Data as a geospatial dataset and gives confidence to users that their human movement data insights are legitimate.

Base mapActivityDwells
People Movement Data can show how people move and where they dwell.

What is People Movement Data used for?

Movement data can provide a wealth of insights for a range of planners – everything from urban design and planning to open space, parks or recreation planners, traffic and transportation, network planning and more – that result in better decisions.

The biggest advantages of People Movement Data come about as a result of how it’s gathered. Firstly, because it’s gathered through GPS location events, People Movement Data has a high level of spatial accuracy. This means that it’s possible to garner insights into how people move within smaller spaces, which is advantageous for a range of planning disciplines in both the public and private sectors.

In addition to this, because it aggregates data from GPS-enabled devices like mobile phones and fitness trackers, People Movement Data offers a broader, more holistic view of how people move through the built environment and open spaces. This all-encompassing view means it’s possible to glean a deep understanding of the where and why of human mobility from a unique perspective that’s never been available before.

With these advantages in mind, it’s possible to answer key questions related to travel behaviours and visitation patterns such as:

  • Where are people travelling through and where do they dwell for extended periods?
  • How do movements change throughout the day and night?
  • Have people’s movements changed over time in specific locations?
  • How do people move through open spaces?
  • Where do people come from to visit a location, or where do they go from a particular area?
  • How long do people stay at a destination they’re visiting?
How we unlock the power of People Movement Data
Get access now

Is People Movement Data anonymous?

To protect the privacy of individuals, data gathered from individual devices is never tied to Personally Identifiable Information (PII). What this means is that each entity is given an identifier by the data provider, but identifying information is hidden before it is licensed for reuse by third parties. By doing so, individuals cannot be identified, while the insights that their aggregated data can offer is still accessible.

How can I access People Movement Data?

People Movement Data isn’t readily available to the public. Within Planwisely, however, subscribers can access mobility data and visualise it to understand key aspects of human movement. This includes heatmaps of travel activity and dwells, as well as the ability to define granular areas of interest to find insights on length of stay and trips to and from an area. Get a demo of Planwisely to find out how the platform works and how People Movement Data can help you deliver better outcomes for your next project.

Want to get started with Planwisely?

Use powerful geospatial datasets to uncover insights, guide your decision-making process and deliver better outcomes for your project today.