IFISCTweets on the road

Tweets on the road

Highways and railways can be traced in a map using Twitter data, according to IFISC (UIB-CSIC) reseachers

Maxime Lenormand, Antònia Tugores, Pere Colet and Jose Ramasco, researchers from IFISC, have made European roads and highways visible through geolocated tweets.

The pervasiveness of mobile devices, which is increasing daily, is generating a vast amount of geo-located data allowing us to gain further insights into human behaviors. In particular, this new technology enables users to communicate through mobile social media applications, such as Twitter, anytime and anywhere. Thus, geo-located tweets offer the possibility to carry out in-depth studies on human mobility. In this paper, we study the use of Twitter in transportation by identifying tweets posted from roads and rails in Europe between September 2012 and November 2013. We compute the percentage of highway and railway segments covered by tweets in 39 countries. The coverages are very different from country to country and their variability can be partially explained by differences in Twitter penetration rates. Still, some of these differences might be related to cultural factors regarding mobility habits and interacting socially online. Analyzing particular road sectors, our results show a positive correlation between the number of tweets on the road and the Average Annual Daily Traffic on highways in France and in the UK. Transport modality can be studied with these data as well, for which we discover very heterogeneous usage patterns across the continent.

The first map shows geolocated tweets in Europe, (a), the highway network, (b), and the railway network, (c).

This map shows the tweets located in the Iberian Peninsula

And this one is taking into account just the tweets located in the highways in the Iberian Peninsula.

Complementary material

European countries geolocated tweets

Tweets near highways in some European countries.

Spanish regions geolocated tweets.

Tweets near highways in Spanish regions.


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Spanish National Research Council Universitat de les Illes Balears