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Intelligent agents for mobile location services

McInerney, James (2014) Intelligent agents for mobile location services University of Southampton, Physical Sciences and Engineering, Doctoral Thesis , 143pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)


Understanding human mobility patterns is a significant research endeavour that has recently received considerable attention. Developing the science to describe and predict how people move from one place to another during their daily lives promises to address a wide range of societal challenges: from predicting the spread of infectious diseases, improving urban planning, to devising effective emergency response strategies. Individuals are also set to benefit from this area of research, as mobile devices will be able to analyse their mobility pattern and offer context-aware assistance and information. For example, a service could warn about travel disruptions before the user is likely to encounter them, or provide recommendations and mobile vouchers for local services that promise to be of high value to the user, based on their predicted future plans. More ambitiously, control systems for home heating and electric vehicle charging could be enhanced with knowledge of when the user will be home. In this thesis, we focus on such anticipatory computing. Some aspects of the vision of context-awareness have been pursued for many years, resulting in mature research in the area of ubiquitous systems. However, the combination of surprisingly rapid adoption of advanced mobile devices by consumers and the broad acceptance of location-based apps has surfaced not only new opportunities, but also a number of pressing challenges.

In more detail, these challenges are the (i) prediction of future mobility, (ii) inference of features of human location behaviour, and (iii) use of prediction and inference to make decisions about timely information or control actions. Our research brings together, for the first time, the entire workflow that a mobile location service needs to follow, in order to achieve an understanding of mobile user needs and to act on such understanding effectively. This framing of the problem highlights the shortcomings of existing approaches which we seek to address. In the current literature, prediction is only considered for established users, which implicitly assumes that new users will continue to use an initially inaccurate prediction system long enough for it to improve and increase in accuracy over time. Additionally, inference of user behaviour is mostly concerned with interruptibility, which does not take into account the constructive role of intelligent location services that goes beyond simply avoiding interrupting the user at inopportune times (e.g., in a meeting, or while driving). Finally, no principled decision framework for intelligent location services has been provided that takes into account the results of prediction and inference.

To address these shortcomings, we make three main contributions to the state of the art. Firstly, we provide a novel Bayesian model that relates the location behaviour of new and established users, allowing the reuse of structure learnt from rich mobility data. This model shows a factor of 2.4 improvement over the state-of-the-art baseline in heldout data likelihood in experiments using the Nokia Lausanne dataset. Secondly, we give new tools for the analysis and prediction of routine in mobility, which is a latent feature of human behaviour, that informs the service about the user’s availability to follow up on any information provided. And thirdly, we provide a fully worked example of an intelligent mobile location service (a crowdsourced package delivery service) that performs decision-making using predictive densities of current and future user mobility. Simulations using real mobility data from the Orange Ivory Coast dataset indicate a 81.3% improvement in service efficiency when compared with the next best (non-anticipatory) approach.

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Published date: 2014
Organisations: University of Southampton, Agents, Interactions & Complexity


Local EPrints ID: 365495
PURE UUID: 0de901ad-92ec-4273-8aaf-e48d445985df

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Date deposited: 09 Jun 2014 10:58
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 02:21

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Author: James McInerney
Thesis advisor: Nicholas Jennings

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