Data have become a central pillar of society. Technological advances in computational power, storage and network platforms have enabled the production, processing, analysis and storage of large volumes of digital data. Information that previously could not be stored, or captured can now be digitally recorded. Digital data have become a key asset for government, businesses and individuals supporting their decision making processes and shaping human behaviour. A notable example has been the use of digital data to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and inform the development of appropriate interventions.

A key data stream has been location data from mobile phones. These data have enabled monitoring the geographic spread of COVID-19 in near-real time with technological companies, such as Apple and Google releasing regular mobility reports. More generally, mobile phone data are a rich source of information offering a unique opportunity to capture human behaviour at an unprecedented geographic and temporal resolution. Yet, key challenges remain, such as issues about privacy, representativeness, biases and the use of large, noisy and complex data sets.

The report seeks to summarise the views of the participants of the “Using mobility data in urban science” online workshop on 27-28 October 2021, organised by the ITINERANT project. ITINERANT (InequaliTies IN Experiencing uRbAn fuNcTion) is a project funded by The Alan Turing Institute within the urban analytics programme and is led by a team of researchers at the Geographic Data Science Lab (GDSL) at the University of Liverpool. ITINERANT investigates how different populations experience and benefit from urban functions by leveraging mobility data at high spatiotemporal resolution.

The report has been edited by the ITINERANT team, a group of researchers with background expanding Artificial intelligence (AI), geographic data science, urban analytics and human mobility. The workshop aimed to bring together expert scholars in the use of new forms of data; provide a snapshot of their use to understand human mobility; and, identify common practises, methods, applications, tools and challenges.

The ITINERANT team felt there is a growing interest in the use of this data and the need to bring together experts to start developing best practises, established approaches, and sharing of know-how is becoming apparent. The workshop was organised as a part of The Alan Turing Institute’s urban analytics programme seeking to enhance their strategic position as a hub for expertise on data science and AI.