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PLoS One. 2010 Jul 15;5(7):e11596. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0011596.

Dynamics of person-to-person interactions from distributed RFID sensor networks.

Author information

1
Complex Networks and Systems Group, Institute for Scientific Interchange Foundation, Turin, Italy. ciro.cattuto@isi.it

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Digital networks, mobile devices, and the possibility of mining the ever-increasing amount of digital traces that we leave behind in our daily activities are changing the way we can approach the study of human and social interactions. Large-scale datasets, however, are mostly available for collective and statistical behaviors, at coarse granularities, while high-resolution data on person-to-person interactions are generally limited to relatively small groups of individuals. Here we present a scalable experimental framework for gathering real-time data resolving face-to-face social interactions with tunable spatial and temporal granularities.

METHODS AND FINDINGS:

We use active Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) devices that assess mutual proximity in a distributed fashion by exchanging low-power radio packets. We analyze the dynamics of person-to-person interaction networks obtained in three high-resolution experiments carried out at different orders of magnitude in community size. The data sets exhibit common statistical properties and lack of a characteristic time scale from 20 seconds to several hours. The association between the number of connections and their duration shows an interesting super-linear behavior, which indicates the possibility of defining super-connectors both in the number and intensity of connections.

CONCLUSIONS:

Taking advantage of scalability and resolution, this experimental framework allows the monitoring of social interactions, uncovering similarities in the way individuals interact in different contexts, and identifying patterns of super-connector behavior in the community. These results could impact our understanding of all phenomena driven by face-to-face interactions, such as the spreading of transmissible infectious diseases and information.

PMID:
20657651
PMCID:
PMC2904704
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0011596
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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