Inequalities in experiencing urban functions. An exploration of human digital (geo-)footprints

Alessia Calafiore, Krasen Samardzhiev, Francisco Rowe, Martin Fleishmann, Daniel Arribas-Bel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Studies on mobility inequalities have so far mostly relied on Survey data or Censuses. While such studies have demonstrated that inequalities strongly influence everyday mobility choices, these data sources lack granular information on people’s movements on a daily basis. By capitalising on high spatio-temporal resolution data provided by, this study aims at investigating how the deprivation level of the area where people live influences the kinds of urban environment they are more likely to use for their everyday activities. To do this, raw GPS trajectories collected in 2019 in Great Britain (GB) are transformed into semantic trajectories where short-time changes and the functional nature of urban contexts are acknowledged as two key dimensions to understand human spatial behaviours. Hourly sequences of stops are extracted from GPS trajectories and enriched with contextual information based on a new area-based classification detecting urban functions. The data exploration shows that some human patterns are widely common across all levels of deprivation, such as the tendency to be mostly exposed to the urban context near the home location. At the same time, we show that differences exist, especially between those who live in the most deprived areas and those who live in the least deprived areas of GB. It appears that people living in the most deprived areas tend to have a less regular working pattern and be more exposed to urban-based functions and well-served areas, while those living in the least deprived areas have a more regular working patterns and are mostly exposed to the countryside and low-density areas. Our approach and results provide new insights on the temporal and contextual dimensions of mobility inequalities, informing on who is exposed to issues characterising certain urban environments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalEnvironment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science
Early online date7 Nov 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Nov 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • mobility inequality
  • GPS trajectories
  • urban functions


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