Exploring mobility data through wireless networks: a lightweight and privacy-friendly solution!

Published on 12/12/2018

From 4 to 7 November 2018 in Shenzhen, China, the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) participated in the SenSys 2018 international conference on sensors and sensor-enabled smart systems. Hosted by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), a renowned scientific association, this event allowed LIST to showcase its latest advances in the field.

The potential of network traces collected from users

During the conference, Dr Sébastien Faye, a digital innovation researcher at LIST, presented his scientific work on the interpretation of contextual data using wireless network traces collected via fixed and mobile devices. We live in a world today that is packed full of wireless access points, whether WiFi routers, connected objects, mobile devices incorporating Bluetooth technology (e.g. smartphones), or cellular antennas. The results of this work enable data transmitted continually via these networks to be collected and interpreted at a lower cost in order to obtain relevant indicators for specific application needs. This approach can be implemented on several types of devices enabling light, anonymous function and guaranteeing full user confidentiality. Its intended uses include, in particular, the smart mobility sector, for example enabling users' daily activities to be tracked but without having to use costly technologies such as a GPS connection. Many companies, such as banks or event organisers, may also benefit from this type of application in order to understand their customers' habits without compromising their anonymity.

With a view to opening up discussion on the advantages of using this wireless network discovery process, the presentation served to gather feedback on the direction of future work, for which there are many opportunities in light of the regular developments in communication technology.

Mobility habits and wireless networks

The potential of the latest advances in these communication technologies already underpins LIST's research activities, more specifically in the field of intensive data networks. Dr Sébastien Faye has, in fact, harnessed this potential in a mobile application called DISCO for « Ultra Lightweight Mobility Discovery », and a demonstration of it was carried out for the experts gathered in Shenzhen. This application operates locally and independently to detect mobility habits thanks to traces left by wireless networks. It has many benefits, including:

  • modules for data collection and mobility analysis in both realtime and using historical data provide indicators about user activity as well as visited sites,
  • dynamic profile exchange between several installed applications enables a comparison of mobility habits and visited sites,
  • diverse statistical information about different user profiles is displayed through a toolbox developed alongside the application via the R statistical calculation environment.

Currently under development at LIST's facilities in Luxembourg, this application, as well as the work presented during the conference, has been the subject of two patent filings in 2017.

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Dr Sébastien FAYE
Dr Sébastien FAYE
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 Foued MELAKESSOU
Foued MELAKESSOU
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Dr Djamel KHADRAOUI
Dr Djamel KHADRAOUI
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