Monitoring the location of cell phones allows analyzing with agility and precision the movements of residents of large cities and has strong potential to support planning of public works, events and transportation systems.


Authors: Moacyr Alvim Silva ( and Alexandre Evsukoff.
Researchers: Moacyr Alvim Silva, Alexandre Evsukoff, Julio Cezar Chaves and Pedro Schneider.
Organization: Alexandre Evsukoff.

Support: Rio de Janeiro State Research Support Foundation (FAPERJ) and Applied Research Fund (FGV).



  • - To estimate the human mobility patterns in cities and metropolitan regions.


Research method

  • - Assembly of a matrix to estimate the trips between home and various destinations, using the location of cell phones detected by antennas.
  • - Testing of the matrix in the city of Rio de Janeiro.



  • - The model was tested in Rio de Janeiro, just after the creation of the Trans-West express bus route. The data show a change in the mobility pattern of residents, who started to use the new route, running between the Barra da Tijuca and Madureira (instead of probable routes beforehand such as through the South Zone).


What’s new

  • - A method was developed to monitor the trips in cities based on cell phone location data. This type of monitoring has potential to improve analysis of mobility in Brazil.
  • - The matrix with use of cell phone data allows two types of analysis: for specific events and mobility in general. In the first case, it is possible to estimate the number of people concentrated in a place (event) and where they came from. The second type of analysis is oriented directly for transport engineering decisions.
  • - The cell phone data permit faster analysis of urban mobility in comparison with traditional methods like conducting surveys, which are expensive, laborious and slow, besides being imprecise.
  • - Applications of the results and possible extensions of the study
  • - The methods developed are innovative and have the merit of being easily repeatable in other cities, with potential to become an important input for planning events and decisions related to traffic engineering.