Quantifying travel behavior for infectious disease research: A comparison of data from surveys and mobile phones

Amy Wesolowski, Gillian Stresman, Nathan Eagle, Jennifer Claire Stevenson, Chrispin Owaga, Elizabeth Marube, Teun Bousema, Christopher Drakeley, Jonathan Cox, Caroline O. Buckee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Human travel impacts the spread of infectious diseases across spatial and temporal scales, with broad implications for the biological and social sciences. Individual data on travel patterns have been difficult to obtain, particularly in low-income countries. Travel survey data provide detailed demographic information, but sample sizes are often small and travel histories are hard to validate. Mobile phone records can provide vast quantities of spatio-temporal travel data but vary in spatial resolution and explicitly do not include individual information in order to protect the privacy of subscribers. Here we compare and contrast both sources of data over the same time period in a rural area of Kenya. Although both data sets are able to quantify broad travel patterns and distinguish regional differences in travel, each provides different insights that can be combined to form a more detailed picture of travel in low-income settings to understand the spread of infectious diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5678
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - Jul 14 2014


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General
  • Medicine(all)

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