Press Releases

June 18, 2018

DOCOMO Develops Population Flow Statistics as Transportation Big Data
— Collaboration with Japanese governmental research institute and University of Tokyo —

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TOKYO, JAPAN, June 18, 2018 --- NTT DOCOMO, INC. announced today that it has successfully developed population flow statistics1 for analyzing population mobility based on operational data from the company's nationwide mobile network in Japan. This is one of the largest domestic data sets for mobility measurement2, and is the result of research that DOCOMO conducted jointly with the National Institute for Land and Infrastructure Management (NILIM)3, a research arm of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT), and the University of Tokyo's Center for Spatial Information Science (CSIS) between July 2014 and September 2017.

A statistically reliable dataset was produced by combining the NILIM's knowledge of urban-traffic research and planning, the University of Tokyo's academic expertise in big-data utilization, and DOCOMO's highly advanced mobile communications and statistical processing technologies. The resulting population flow statistics offer the potential for use in diverse applications, including travel surveys such as Person Trip surveys4.

The research results have been released publicly in a technical note of NILIM5, and the NILIM reported the results at a session on June 11.

The research involved the statistical processing of operational data on mobile phones moving from one base station to another in DOCOMO's nationwide mobile network. Population flow statistics, one form of Mobairu Kukan Tokei (mobile spatial statistics)1, were generated through a three-step process consisting of anonymization, estimation, and disclosure limitation. The resulting big data was then used to analyze how people moved about on a constant 24/7 basis throughout Japan. From this dataset, it became possible to estimate population flows in given areas, as well as specific routes, distances and speeds traveled, from which it was then possible to infer the transportation modes used, such as air, high-speed rail (for bullet trains) and road (expressway) transport.

Going forward, DOCOMO expects the statistics to be used by various agencies and companies for highly effective and precise planning. For example, population flow statistics broken down by specific days, weeks, months and years will support the planning of efficient traffic networks, both urban and rural. Also, data on the number of people traveling between specific regions, including by age group and means of transportation, will facilitate the planning of networks tailored to Japan's aging society and expected spikes in tourism. In addition, the data could be used to plan appropriate increases in trains, buses and taxis to popular tourist spots and to help revitalize areas by devising more effective traffic signage.

The population flow statistics could also play an invaluable role in planning for the expected increase in visitors to Tokyo in 2020. The data could be used to plan the efficient operation of rail and roadway networks during rush hours to accommodate both tourists and commuters, the operation of transport to/from sporting facilities and the development of necessary commercial facilities in and around event areas.

In the future, DOCOMO will continue developing systems to generate useful mobile big data for practical applications that benefit society.

  1. Population flow statistics and mobile spatial statistics are population estimates based on operational data, including location and attribute data necessary for providing DOCOMO's mobile phone services (approximately 76.37 million units as of the end of March, 2018) to customers. Customers cannot be identified individually, and estimates are made without using the operational data of corporate subscribers. (in Japanese only)
  2. According to NILIM and DOCOMO as of July 4, 2018
  3. National Institute for Land and Infrastructure Management (NILIM)
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  4. The movement of individuals within a certain area in one day is measured, and this is one of the most fundamental measurement procedures for traffic surveying. This is a basic procedure used for traffic planning, road planning, and disaster prevention planning. Since being implemented on a large scale in the Hiroshima metropolitan area in 1967, it has been implemented in 64 urban areas.
  5. Technical note of NILIM, No.1015
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  • "Mobairu Kukan Tokei" is a trademark or registered trademark of NTT DOCOMO, INC.
Examples of Population Flow Statistics
Image of Examples of Population Flow StatisticsImage of Examples of Population Flow Statistics
Examples of Mobile Spatial Statistics
Image of Examples of Mobile Spatial StatisticsImage of Examples of Population Flow Statistics
Examples of Population Flow Statistics Output
Image of Examples of Population Flow Statistics OutputImage of Examples of Population Flow Statistics Output

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