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From Motion Activity to Geo-Embeddings: Generating and Exploring Vector Representations of Locations, Traces and Visitors through Large-Scale Mobility Data

Department of Geoinformatics—Z_GIS, University of Salzburg, 5020 Salzburg, Austria
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2019, 8(3), 134;
Received: 29 January 2019 / Revised: 23 February 2019 / Accepted: 4 March 2019 / Published: 8 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Spatial Data Science)
PDF [8777 KB, uploaded 11 March 2019]


The rapid growth of positioning technology allows tracking motion between places, making trajectory recordings an important source of information about place connectivity, as they map the routes that people commonly perform. In this paper, we utilize users’ motion traces to construct a behavioral representation of places based on how people move between them, ignoring geographical coordinates and spatial proximity. Inspired by natural language processing techniques, we generate and explore vector representations of locations, traces and visitors, obtained through an unsupervised machine learning approach, which we generically named motion-to-vector (Mot2vec), trained on large-scale mobility data. The algorithm consists of two steps, the trajectory pre-processing and the Word2vec-based model building. First, mobility traces are converted into sequences of locations that unfold in fixed time steps; then, a Skip-gram Word2vec model is used to construct the location embeddings. Trace and visitor embeddings are finally created combining the location vectors belonging to each trace or visitor. Mot2vec provides a meaningful representation of locations, based on the motion behavior of users, defining a direct way of comparing locations’ connectivity and providing analogous similarity distributions for places of the same type. In addition, it defines a metric of similarity for traces and visitors beyond their spatial proximity and identifies common motion behaviors between different categories of people. View Full-Text
Keywords: embeddings; Word2vec; unsupervised learning; trajectories; motion behavior embeddings; Word2vec; unsupervised learning; trajectories; motion behavior

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Crivellari, A.; Beinat, E. From Motion Activity to Geo-Embeddings: Generating and Exploring Vector Representations of Locations, Traces and Visitors through Large-Scale Mobility Data. ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2019, 8, 134.

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