BorderRegion_KDE – A tool to capture cross-border regions from mobility

Authors: Michaela Söderholm & Olle Järv

One of the objectives of the BORDERSPACE project is to empirically capture functional border regions, and transnational spaces in general, from the perspective of people – their mobility and social interactions across country borders. Our first studies showed how novel big data sources can reveal cross-border mobilities of people (Järv et al. 2023), and how that enables to map functional cross-border regions (Aagesen et al. 2023).

To scale up our approach and focus on all functional border regions in Europe, we needed a tool to automate multiple border region calculations. Thus, we developed BorderRegion_KDE – a program to automatically calculate a geographical Kernel Density Estimation (KDE) polygons derived from cross-border mobility, and visualize them.

Read more from our story map (HERE or click the map, below).

Interested in our project?

Read more from our project page: BORDERSPACE and get in contact! The project focuses on studying cross-border mobilities and interactions, transnational people, and functional transnational spaces. The novelty of the project stems from the use of novel big data sources to provide valuable insights for cross-border research and practice. The project is carried out at the Digital Geography Lab — an interdisciplinary research team focusing on spatial Big Data analytics for fair and sustainable societies at the University of Helsinki.

The MOBI-TWIN project kick-started!

Mobi-Twin logo


What is it about

The Horizon Europe funded MOBI-TWIN – Twin transition and changing patterns of spatial mobility: a regional approach – sets out to redefine regional attractiveness in the context of significant global transition processes such as the green and digital transition. The project aims to analyze the changing drivers of spatial mobility and examine the effects of twin transitions on regional attractiveness and human (im)mobility.

The twin transition presents both opportunities and challenges for regions across Europe. As certain areas become more alluring due to the emerging prospects brought forth by the green and digital revolution, others risk being left behind. By utilising advanced information and computer modeling techniques, MOBI-TWIN seeks to comprehensively understand the impact of these changes on different regions of Europe and develop innovative policies that promote balance and inclusivity by harnessing the positive effects of Twin Transition.

A primary focus of MOBI-TWIN is to unravel the underlying factors that influence individuals’ decisions to relocate and how these factors may evolve in response to global changes. By analyzing various types of moves, including permanent relocations, commuting patterns, and temporary stays, the project aims to gain insights into the intricate dynamics and implications for different European regions.

How we do it

Taking a step further, MOBI-TWIN employs a specialised computer model to simulate the potential outcomes of people’s mobility in the face of the Twin Transition. This includes assessing the potential influx of individuals into specific locations, the types of jobs they may acquire, and the subsequent impact on regional populations, social structures, welfare system, and labour markets. By leveraging these findings, MOBI-TWIN aims to propose policies that harness the positive aspects of these changes and maximise the benefits for different areas. Of particular importance is the examination of how the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit have affected freedom of movement between EU regions.

Continue reading “The MOBI-TWIN project kick-started!”

Join our special session at ECTQG’23 in September

Olle Järv (University of Helsinki) and Ate Poorthuis (KU Leuven) organize a special session focusing on how dynamic mobility flows form functioning systems like communities, urban networks and regions at the European Colloquium on Theoretical and Quantitative Geography 2023. The ECTQG’23 takes place 14.–17. September 2023 in Braga, Portugal.

Join us and submit your abstract HERE. Abstract deadline: 15th May 2023. We plan to organize a special issue in a peer-reviewed geographical journal in 2023 and look forward to your contribution on the scope, in addition to our ongoing research in BORDERSPACE project. See our session description, below:

Special Session “From dynamic mobility flows to functional systems: Communities, urban networks, and regions”

The analysis of functional systems through spatial interactions has been a long-standing interest in quantitative geography. While traditional approaches often focused on single cities or countries, limited themselves to specific kinds of mobility (e.g. commuting or migration), or a single point-in-time, new (big) data sources and computational methods have opened up new avenues. By not only providing new insights on temporal rhythms of functional systems, these systems can also be investigated at larger global and cross-country scales, and capture for more heterogeneous types of mobility (e.g. cross-border commuting, multilocal living, recreation and social networks). This can shed new light on, for example, border regions from different countries forming one functional system regarding peoples’ daily practices or the temporal rhythms of urban networks.

Continue reading “Join our special session at ECTQG’23 in September”

Join our session on cross-border regions at the RSA23 annual conference

Olle Järv together with colleagues from LISER (Luxembourg) organize a special session focusing on cross-border regions from the broad perspective of mobilities & social interactions of people at 2023 RSA Annual Conference Transforming Regions: Policies & Planning for People & Places. The #RSA23 takes place from 14.–17. June 2023 in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Join us and submit your abstract HERE. Abstract deadline extended: Midnight 14th March 2023.

We plan to submit a special issue proposal to a well-established journal depending on the focus of presented studies after the conference. Read session description, below:

SS27: Understanding Cross-Border Regions through the Lens of Mobilities and Social Interactions of People

Session Organisers:

  • Olle Järv, University of Helsinki, Finland
  • Philippe Gerber, LISER, Luxembourg
  • Guillaume Drevon, LISER, Luxembourg

Session Description:

We live in a mobile world and cross country borders for various reasons – migration, tourism, work and education, and seeing family and friends. In addition to migration and tourism, cross-border practices are increasing due to the people whose daily lives are not confined to a fixed territory of one country, including cross-border commuters and people with multi-local living lifestyles between different countries (Gerber 2012; Carling et al. 2021; Järv et al., 2021). These recurring and frequent mobilities crossing country borders for work, shopping, services, and leisure not only affect individuals’ social connectedness and integration (e.g. social networks, well-being and place attachment) across borders, but also contribute to the (re)production of functional transnational spaces – border regions from different countries forming a functioning system.

Continue reading “Join our session on cross-border regions at the RSA23 annual conference”

Looking for a research assistant

Are you interested in geoinformatics, big data and social media analytics? Are you curious about the phenomena of human mobility, tourism, transnationalism, regional planning and development?         I’m currently looking for a master’s student to work as a research assistant in my project BORDERSPACE at the Digital Geography Lab.

In short, the project studies cross-border mobility flows within the EU and daily practices of cross-border commuters (mobilities and activities across state borders). For this, we are using social media data such as Twitter data (Aagesen et al. 2022; Järv et al. 2022); smartphone tracking data (Järv et al. 2021), and questionnaire survey data. The project seeks to reveal functional cross-border regions based on cross-border practices of people, and how these are influenced by external factors (e.g., COVID-19, war in Ukraine). Also, the topics of transnationalism and multi-local living are in the focus of the project. Geographically, the project focuses preliminarily on the Nordic countries (incl. Finland-Estonia) and the Greater Region of Luxembourg.

The hired assistant would help with various tasks depending on skills and interests: processing and querying (social media) data, managing and developing the database, data analysis and report writing. In general, a successful candidate has fluency in programming (Python or R) and knowledge in automating (spatial) data analysis. Prior experience in handling databases (SQL, PostgreSQL + PostGIS), working with social media data and/or GPS tracking data is an asset.

For those interested, please send me ( an email including: 1) your CV; and 2) a one-page cover letter to introduce yourself, your skills and motivation, and whether you would potentially be interested to link this with your Master’s thesis study. The working period can be from January until the end of August 2023, so please indicate when you can start working, during what time period and at which workload (approximate work hours/week). Apply by 22.12.2022 at the latest.

Feel free to ask any further details, and to forward this email to potentially interested candidates at the University of Helsinki.

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The BORDERSPACE project is carried out at the Digital Geography Lab — an interdisciplinary research team focusing on spatial Big Data analytics for fair and sustainable societies at the Department of Geosciences and Geography, University of Helsinki.

Digital Geography Lab presented the latest research at Mobile Tartu 2022

It was our honour and pleasure to attend the 8th Mobile Tartu conference organized by the Mobility Lab of the University of Tartu, Estonia. The event was once again scientifically fruitful and socially rewarding exactly the way how the founder of the conference, the late professor Rein Ahas had envisioned it!

The members of the Digital Geography Lab were well represented in organising PhD workshops, presenting latest research from various projects, chairing sessions and moderating a panel discussion.


Olle Järv and Oleksandr Karasov organized a PhD workshop on “Social media sources as a tool to monitor cross-border mobility”, and Christoph Fink and Tuuli Toivonen together with our former group member Age Poom organized a PhD workshop on “Data and tools for environmental exposure assessment during urban mobility”.

Continue reading “Digital Geography Lab presented the latest research at Mobile Tartu 2022”

Two new studies on revealing cross-border mobility and border regions

One of the goals of the BORDERSPACE project at the Digital Geography Lab is to examine whether and how social media data such as geo-located Twitter data can reveal cross-border mobility of people and provide new insights for understanding border regions. We demonstrate the feasibility of using Twitter data in two different recently published studies – the first study from the Greater Region of Luxembourg and the second study from the Nordic countries.


Study #1: Revealing mobilities of people to understand cross-border regions: insights from Luxembourg using social media data”

Published in European Planning Studies

Authors: Olle Järv, Håvard W. Aagesen, Tuomas Väisänen & Samuli Massinen

Conceptually, our approach was to make big data small and meaningful by: 1) using a bottom-up concept of activity space (e.g. Järv et al., 2014); 2) using mobility as a tool to capture individual activity spaces; and 3) contextualizing mobility from the border perspective.

Figure 1. The conceptual framework of data collection and data enrichment using the activity space approach to reveal cross-border mobilities and its motives from an individual perspective.

Continue reading “Two new studies on revealing cross-border mobility and border regions”

WE ARE RECRUITING! Looking for a postdoctoral researcher in big data analytics in the area of human mobility and social interactions

Are you interested in studying human mobility and social interactions that take place in the cross-border context, and doing advanced spatial and content analysis using millions of social media posts? If so, consider applying for a postdoc position at the Digital Geography Lab (DGL) to work with Academy Research Fellow Olle Järv from November 2021 (or sooner/later as agreed)!

We are looking for an enthusiastic, innovative, and open-minded team player with strong technical knowledge and skills to join our interdisciplinary DGL research group and work in the Academy of Finland-funded project BORDERSPACE – Tracing Interactions and Mobilities Beyond State Borders: Towards New Transnational Spaces. Continue reading “WE ARE RECRUITING! Looking for a postdoctoral researcher in big data analytics in the area of human mobility and social interactions”

Warm reflections from the course GEOG-326 on accessibility and human mobility research

Time flies – the course “GEOG-326 Quantitative methods for sustainable land use planning I: Accessibility & mobility analyses“, given by the researchers of the Digital Geography Lab, ended already before Christmas 2020. Yet it’s worthwhile to reflect on it!

It is heart-warming to go through the positive feedback from students regarding the course structure and balance between theory and practice, and constructive suggestions for improving the course.

The course aimed at linking the accessibility and mobility of people to sustainability, well-being and social (in)equality perspectives, exploring the potential of big data analysis approach, and studying the ways of implementing these in planning. We also focused on the impact of global crises on human mobility on the example of COVID-19.

Overall, all 35 students did a great job and received high grades, but most importantly, it was rewarding to see students getting motivated and inspired, and developing their skills and ideas during the course.

The final output of the course was an independent group work that was presented in the form of an academic poster. Me, Elias and Tuuli found the final poster presentation session excellent! Thus, we are delighted to share the posters here 🙂

Check out and get inspired!

Continue reading “Warm reflections from the course GEOG-326 on accessibility and human mobility research”

Etsimme tutkijatohtoria tai tohtorikoulutettavaa!

Briefly in English: We are sharing an announcement for a post-doc/PhD student position at Digital Geography Lab and Ruralia Institute. The position benefits from the knowledge of Finnish language and hence is published in Finnish only.

Ja sitten suomeksi:

Kiinnostaako monipaikkaisuus, aluekehitys ja ihmisten liikkuvuus? Haluaisitko tietää, miten erilaisten digitaalisten aineistojen avulla voi monipaikkaisuutta tarkastella tai miten COVID-19 pandemia on vaikuttanut kakkosasuntojen käyttöä Suomessa?

Ruralia-instituutti ja Digital Geography Lab yhteiistyössä hakee tutkijatohtoria/tohtorikoulutettavaa hankkeeseen ”Monipaikkaisen asumisen rytmit”.

Tehtävät käsittävät digitaalisten massa-aineistojen (mm. rakennusten sähkönkäytön, matkapuhelinverkon ja Twitter aineistoja) hallinnointia, prosessointia ja analysointia. Hakijalta edellytetään riittäviä geoinformatiikan taitoja analyysien tekoon, massa-aineistojen käsittelyyn vaativaa osaamista (Python, R, PostgreSQL) ja tilastollista osaamista. Suurteholaskennan kokemus katsotaan eduksi.

Tarkemmat hakuohjeet löytyvät täältä.

Hakuaika päättyy 22.3.2021, ole nopea!

Lisätietoja saa: akatemiatutkija Olle Järv olle.jarv(at) ja professori Tuuli Toivonen, tuuli.toivonen(at)