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Novel methods and tools are being developed to explore the significance of the new types of user-related spatiotemporal data. This approach helps uncover the presence and movements of tourists from cell phone network data and the georeferenced photos they generate. A city's visitors have many ways of leaving voluntary or involuntary electronic trails: prior to their visits, tourists generate server log entries when they consult digital maps or travel Web sites; during their visit, they leave traces on wireless networks whenever they use their mobile phones; and after their visit, they might add online reviews and photos. Broadly speaking then, there are two types of footprint: active and passive. Passive tracks are left through interaction with an infrastructure, such as a mobile phone network, that produces entries in locational logs; active prints come from the users themselves when they expose locational data in photos, messages, and sensor measurements. In this article, we consider two types of digital traces from Rome, Italy: georeferenced photos made publicly available on the photo-sharing Web site Flickr and aggregate records of wireless network events generated by mobile phone users making calls and sending text messages on the Telecom Italia Mobile (TIM) system.
Date of Publication: Oct.-Dec. 2008