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Home location prediction with telecom data : benchmarking heuristics with a predictive modelling approach

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

Correctly identifying the home location is crucial for human mobility analysis with telecom data, more specifically call detail record (CDR) data. To that end, multiple heuristics have been developed in literature. Nevertheless, due to the lack of ground truth home location data, no study has thoroughly validated these widely used methods so far. We present a detailed performance analysis of existing home detection heuristics, using a unique dataset that enables this important validation on the lowest level, being the level of the cell tower. Our research indicates that simple heuristics surprisingly outperform their more complex counterparts. The benchmark study revealed that the best heuristic is able to identify the home location with an average error of approximately 4.5 km and selects the correct home tower in 60.69% of the cases. Based on the insights provided by our study, we propose a new heuristic that increases the accuracy to 61% and lowers the average distance error to 4.365 km. Secondly, if the home location is known for possibly only a fraction of the instances, we propose a labelled predictive modelling approach. Adding social network based variables in this predictive model further enhances the predictive performance. Our best model reduces the average distance error to 2.848 km and selects the correct home location in 72.08% of the cases. Furthermore, this result provides an indication of the upper bound for home detection with CDR data. Finally, models that only make use of social network based data are developed as well. Results show that even without using data of the focal individual, these models are able to select the correct home tower in 37.65% of the cases and achieve an average distance error of 8.1 km.
Journal: Expert Systems with Applications
ISSN: 0957-4174
Volume: 170
Number of pages: 1
Publication year:2021