Mobile phones as a lens into slum dynamics

Amy Wesolowski, Nathan Eagle

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


The worldwide adoption of mobile phones is providing researchers with an unprecedented opportunity to utilize large-scale data to better understand human behavior. This chapter highlights the potential use of mobile phone data to better understand the dynamics driving slums in Kenya. Given slum dwellers informal and transient lifetimes (in terms of places of employment, living situations, etc.), comprehensive longitude behavioral data sets are rare. Working with communication and location data from Kenya's leading mobile phone operator, the authors use mobile phone data as a window into the social, mobile, and economic dimensions of slum dwellers. The authors address questions about the functionality of slums in urban areas in terms of economic, social, and migratory dynamics. In particular, the authors discuss economic mobility in slums, the importance of social networks, and the connectivity between slums and other urban areas. With four years until the 2015 deadline to meet the Millennium Development Goals, including the goal to improve the lives of slum dwellers worldwide, there is a great need for tools to make development and urban planning decisions more beneficial and precise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationOnline Research Methods in Urban and Planning Studies
Subtitle of host publicationDesign and Outcomes
PublisherIGI Global
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)9781466600744
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)


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