The effect of temporal sampling intervals on typical human mobility indicators obtained from mobile phone location data

Mobile phone location data have been extensively used to understand human mobility patterns through the employment of mobility indicators. The temporal sampling interval (TSI), which is measured by the temporal interval between consecutive records, determines how well such data can describe human activities and influence the values of human mobility indicators. However, systematic investigations of how the TSI affects human mobility indicators remain scarce, and characterizing those relationships is a fundamental research question for many related studies. This study uses a mobile phone location dataset containing 19,370 intensively sampled individual trajectories (TSI < 5 minutes) to systematically assess the impacts of the TSI on four typical mobility indicators that describe human mobility patterns from different aspects, which are movement entropy, radius of gyration, eccentricity, and daily travel frequency. We find that different TSIs have complex impacts on the values of different mobility indicators. Specifically, (1) coarser TSIs tend to underestimate the values of the four selected indicators with different degrees; (2) the degrees of underestimation vary significantly among users for eccentricity and daily travel frequency but exhibit high inter-user consistency for radius of gyration and movement entropy. The above findings can help better understand the variations among human mobility studies.