DS0601 -

The role of Urban Educative Cultures on children’s behavior change about their daily mobility and urban lifestyle. Collection and spatiotemporal analysis of individual tracks location-based and enriched semantically – MOBIKIDS

Mobi'kids: From GPS tracks to sensitive tracks or the evolution of children's autonomy in the city

The role of urban educational cultures (UECs) in the evolution of children's everyday mobilities and living contexts. Longitudinal and contextual approach to study the evolution of children's mobilities and spatial experiences during the transition from elementary school to middle school. Development of a survey protocol and mixed data analysis (from GPS sensors, questionnaires, interview and observation data walk along interviews).

Evolution of children's autonomy in a context of demotorization of cities and promotion of active modes. Interdisciplinary research based on an original methodology

The MOBI'KIDS program aims to understand the conditions of children's daily mobility and their relationship to the city spaces in a context of changing lifestyles and encouraged alternative modes of travel spurred by the «city demotorization ». The goal is also to study how children's mobility and spatial experiences evolve during the transition from elementary school to secondary school. It is about going further the notion of routine to detect more informal or spontaneous forms of children's practices of space. The comparison of different living contexts (city center vs. urban periphery) contributes to the characterization of «urban educational cultures« (UEC) as well as the drivers of behavioral changes and thus to support public policies. Producing detailed and localized knowledge of family mobilities and practices in urban spaces involves designing a mixed data collection and analysis protocol that combines quantitative and qualitative approaches based on methods and paradigms from different disciplines. It relies on two industrial partners for the deployment of optimized sensors, filtering and sequencing algorithms for geolocalized data, and an online information system to enrich and qualify travel and activity trace data. The proposed protocol provides knowledge that is complementary to that obtained from standard mobility surveys (Household travel survey).

A longitudinal survey was carried out in two urban contexts of Rennes metropolitan area (Rennes city-centrer and Orgères) with 90 families involved over two school periods (5th and 6th grades). A first step has been taken to propsect the survey urban sites with local actors (Rennes Metropole institution, City Hall, elementary school management, teachers), to request authorizations from the National department of school inspection (to survey children of the 5th and 6th grades) and to have the collection tools validated by the National Data Processing and Freedom Center (CNIL in French).
After this stage, families were contacted through principals and teachers in the elementary schools (2 schools in Orgères/ 3 schools in Rennes). In each family that agreed to participate in the survey, a child and a parent took part in a protocol based on three complementary types of data collection. The first two types, combining GPS and enriched tracks, made up an original MK MOBIBACK device involving the two industrial partners. In terms of technology, this device is equipped with a set of passive data loggers including a GPS and an accelerometer, a centralized platform for collecting raw data (from dataloggers), processing (sequencing) and providing (via an API) a «questionnaire« application for tablets. Each person surveyed (child and parent) was equipped with a GPS sensor coupled with an accelerometer (designed by the partner RF Track according to specific needs) to record all of his or her geographical and temporal tracks or positions (for 5 days). Once the tracks are segmented into stops and routes, they have been qualified with trip reasons and conditions and activities carried out. A final part of the questionnaire administered on a tablet dealt with questions on the relationship to space, autonomy, socialization and parental attitudes. Finally, a last phase of data collection (involving a sub-sample of children who consented and were involved in the two previous phases of the survey) made it possible to observe children's experiences in mobility situations (including situations where there was a change of modes, in the second year). This one consisted in collecting children’s voices and photos (video-recording in the second year) of children during walk along interviwes made in a familiar context (school-home journey).

On the empirical and theoretical level, using a series of statistical processing we are able to:
- produce profiles (displacement, autonomy, education), typologies (socialization places, pathways, daily activity trajectories) and ontologies (activities, travels) leading us to transcribe some dimensions of longitudinally observed processes,
- characterize trends in children's mobility according to urban environments and learning contexts (profiling educational cultures that are currently being defined),
- define typologies of places and place-moment-activity (PMA) revealing the spontaneity and informality of some children's spatial practices,
- formalize ontologies of activities to detect and compare routines within families.
- sketch forms of children's sensibility during travels (walking and cycling) and an attentional grammar during school trips,
- pre-design metrics and model for constructing indicators of travel contexts to explain the meaning and function of children's active mobilities.
- formalize various descriptive levels of urban educational cultures based on typologies of learning contexts and educational styles.
- produce original presentations of the results (video montage of fragments of children's cycling behaviour; soundtrack of children's words on the move; narrative-fiction illustrated by ambient immersions on the paths of schoolchildren and college students).
As far as methdological results are concern, the program has helped to:
- design and test a hybrid data collection and sharing device (MK MOBIBACK) including GPS passive sensors, processing platform (trace sequencing), data sharing (FTP, API, Cloud, Geographic Feeds) and a questionnaire application for trace enrichment.
- elaborate a documentation-diagnosis of the scientific and ethical validity.
- document the processing chains for data cleanup and stabilization (enriched tracks, qualitative data) in an open source environment.
- develop specific tools for data visualization and representation for the exploration of dynamics or clusters associated with behavior patterns (SIMBA application). The computer codes (in R and Python languages) related to these developments are available on github.
Finally, in terms of transferring the first results, we note the MOBI'KIDS Forum intended for a broad public which took place on June 30 and July 1, 2022. Convening actors from research, public policy, associations and civil society itw as organized around a research exhibition (first results of MOBI'KIDS) and a round-table discussion bringing together parents, associative actors, researchers and official reprensetatives. This forum was renewed at Grenoble in a more academic way on November 9, 2022 (exhibition repeated, round-table discussion inviting researchers in SHS, Computer Science) with the support of the National Research Group of Methods and Applications for Geomatics and Spatial Information (MAGIS in French).

The issue of children in urban spaces and the study of spatial and temporal data related to their activities in the city contribute to a different view in general of the quality of urban spaces and their recreational and socializing potential. In this way, the MOBI'KIDS issue has allowed the consolidation of the theme of children in the city via various dissemination in new projects (PhD, Call for project) and the methodological module application in new projects such as the program MOBITAF for the GPS/questionnaire application (partners Alkante/ESO); or the program Velotactique (ANR) and the technique of video-riding along interviews (partners involved ESO/PACTE).
In addition, technological and computer developments carried out in the program should guarantee an ability to generalyze the collection and analysis chains that should support the transfer of monitoring and individual mobility analysis protocols to other economic actors needing a detailed knowledge of behaviors and their evolution. This would encourage to complement traditional surveys by increasing the quality of the information collected over longer periods and reducing costs by improving specific tools for additional automation.

The MOBI'KIDS program has resulted in 5 publications (including 3 of international rank and 1 as institutional publication), 1 collective book (in progress), 15 communications in conferences (including 8 of international rank) and 10 as extension of research (4 are contributions in print national media) and 1 PHD manuscript. In addition to these productions, a data management plan is being written.
In addition to these productions, we also mention design and production of scientific and technical tools and documentation, such as :
- the design of a mixed data collection and sharing device (MK MOBIBACK) including passive GPS sensors, a processing platform (track sequencing) and data sharing (FTP, Cloud, Geo-flow) and a questionnaire application for enriching tracks and collecting socio-psychological information. This device is completed by a documentation-diagnosis (scientific and ethical validity) of the protocol for collecting tracks.
- the formalization of a chain of operations for data cleaning and stabilization (enriched tracks, qualitative data).
- various statistical processing development applied to spatio-temporal data (mobility and daily activities), contributing to the production of autonomy indicators, socio-demographic and socio-educational profiles.
- a web application for data mining analysis and comparisons of human daily activities (SIMBA)
- a geovisualization application (Mobi'Kids App) for researchers in the MOBI'KIDS program that supports data exploration of the enriched and sensitive tracks during the analysis.

The MOBI'KIDS project aims to understand daily mobilities and activities of families in urban areas in a context of changes in urban lifestyles and within the consolidation of travel modes alternative developed within the "city demotorization” paradigm. More specifically the project concerns daily mobilities and spatial experiences of children in their step of independence learning. It contributes to identify the constraints and the shift levers of mobilities. Children mobilities are apprehended within their large environmental context, by taking into account the family context aiming to define a typology of “urban educative cultures” (UEC). Understood as a set of attitudes, values and daily spatial practices and experiences, UEC will be observed in a diversity of urban contexts in order: 1/ to show how they vary according to living contexts, families’ social situations and to urban lifestyles; 2/ to explain how they fluctuate and structure themselves from a spatiotemporal gradient defining between routines vs informal experiences. This objective will allow to explain the learning conditions of the city and to clarify the emergence of daily travels changes (including the alternatives to car mobility) and of use of the city by the children. The research field of the project will be focused on Rennes metropolis. It will aim at a first series of statistical analyses based on data of different surveys produced by the Local Organizing Authorities of Transport (Origin-Destination survey; Households / Travels surveys ) to release the main trends of children’s and their family mobilities according to the social and spatial dimensions. These first trends will allow to constitute the spatial and social sample. A sample of 140 families living in two urban contrasted sites (center versus urban periphery) of Rennes Metropolis will be surveyed in a first time.
The methodology will be based on an original conceptual and technical protocol designed for the collection and analysis of multidimensional data: travels geo-localization, post-track recall interview and guided commented tours with individuals. A corpus describing the daily travel, its associated urban atmosphere, mobility and educational attitudes, will be constituted. The analysis of these quantitative and qualitative data will lead to three articulating readings: 1/ an informatics/geomatic reading will allow to release usual and unusual behavior (spatio-temporal pattern) from the recorded GPS tracks; 2/a semantic reading of data (post-track recall interview) will contribute to the analysis of lifestyles and characterization of the social and family contexts, habits, mobility and spaces preferences, environmental contexts of the travels and personal sense of the mobility; 3/a sensitive reading will lean on in-situ travel observation data collected with children to apprehend the material, sensory, practical and temporal contexts. This corpus of enriched tracks will contribute to define the profiles of CEU explaining learning conditions. Then, a monitoring-workshop supported by the local actor of Rennes Metropolis will be set up with a sub-sample of children interviewed in the first time (T1). This experiment based on changes of urban travel modes will consist in keeping up observations of children’s mobility over a more spread period to understand children’s mobility evolution and their spatial and social conditions and their spatial relations during a step of transition between the primary school and the middle school. This project conducted in an interdisciplinary approach is built on previous collaborations between stemming teams Social and Human Sciences and informatics and engineering sciences and two SME partners. It contributes to the development of hybrid tools for collection associating different kinds of data (GPS, accelerometer-data, discursive and in-situ-observations data) with the aim to improve the collection protocols of national survey about daily travels.

Project coordinator

Madame sandrine DEPEAU (Espaces et SOciétés)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


UMR AAU AAU (Ambiances Architectures Urbanités)
LI LI (Laboratoire d'Informatique)
UMR ESO Espaces et SOciétés
PACTE Laboratoire des Politiques publiques, ACtion politique, TErritoires

Help of the ANR 510,473 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: December 2016 - 42 Months

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