Portraying temporal dynamics of urban spatial divisions with mobile phone positioning data: A complex network approach

Meng Zhou, Yang Yue*, Qingquan Li, Donggen WANG

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Spatial structure is a fundamental characteristic of cities that influences the urban functioning to a large extent. While administrative partitioning is generally done in the form of static spatial division, understanding a more temporally dynamic structure of the urban space would benefit urban planning and management immensely. This study makes use of a large-scale mobile phone positioning dataset to characterize the diurnal dynamics of the interaction-based urban spatial structure. To extract the temporally vibrant structure, spatial interaction networks at different times are constructed based on the movement connections of individuals between geographical units. Complex network community detection technique is applied to identify the spatial divisions as well as to quantify their temporal dynamics. Empirical analysis is conducted using data containing all user positions on a typical weekday in Shenzhen, China. Results are compared with official zoning and planned structure and indicate a certain degree of expansion in urban central areas and fragmentation in industrial suburban areas. A high level of variability in spatial divisions at different times of day is detected with some distinct temporal features. Peak and pre-/post-peak hours witness the most prominent fluctuation in spatial division indicating significant change in the characteristics of movements and activities during these periods of time. Findings of this study demonstrate great potential of large-scale mobility data in supporting intelligent spatial decision making and providing valuable knowledge to the urban planning sectors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number240
JournalISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Computers in Earth Sciences
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)

User-Defined Keywords

  • Community detection
  • Diurnal dynamics
  • Mobile phone positioning data
  • Spatial division
  • Urban structure


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