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In this article, we report on the discovery of statistical regularities, mathematical laws, and universal characteristics underlying multiscale human mobility. Our study is based on the generation of proxy networks for global human travel behavior from pervasive user data collected at the world's largest bill- tracking Web site and trajectories of trackable items (known as travel bugs) recorded at a geocaching Web. From this pervasive data, we extract multiscale human traffic networks for the US and European countries that cover distances of a few to a few thousand kilometers. Proxy networks permit reliable estimates of statistical features such as degree, flux, and traffic weight distributions. The authors show that despite cultural and national differences, universal properties exist in a diverse set of traffic networks along with important insight into traffic-related phenomena such as the geographic spread of emergent infectious diseases.
Date of Publication: Oct.-Dec. 2008