Meet Manuel Mendoza Hurtado, a visiting PhD Researcher from University of Cordoba

We are excited to introduce Manuel Mendoza Hurtado, a PhD Researcher from the University of Cordoba. Manuel visits the Digital Geography Lab this spring to collaborate with Academy Researcher Olle Järv on the BORDERSPACE project. Check out our mini-interview with Manuel to learn more.

A profile photo of Manuel Mendoza Hurtado
Photo by Susan Heikkinen







Who are you and what is your role at your home university?

I am Manuel Mendoza Hurtado, a PhD Researcher in the Computational Intelligence and Bioinformatics research group at the Department of Computer Science and Numerical Analysis, University of Cordoba, Spain. I am currently on my last PhD year. I got my Master’s degree in Telematics and Telecommunication networks from the University of Malaga. It was very interesting to learn about mobile networks and telecommunications. My research interests are supervised learning, multi-label classification and dealing with imbalance problems. Currently, I am focused on mobility patterns identification with the use of mobile devices using a machine learning approach as part of my PhD.

Please briefly introduce your research topic.

My PhD thesis “Identification of mobility patterns using advanced artificial intelligence techniques applied to mobile phone data” studies different approaches to identify home and work locations for the users and how could we make use of their mobility patterns to improve public transport planning. I have been working with a multi-source dataset from the city of Milan, with Call Detail Records using classification algorithms to detect home and work locations. Continue reading “Meet Manuel Mendoza Hurtado, a visiting PhD Researcher from University of Cordoba”

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.

Friendship matters: Facebook connections explain forced migration patterns of Ukrainians in Europe

The full-scale Russia’s invasion caused unprecedented migration of Ukrainians, fleeing from active warfare events in the Northern, Eastern, and Southern Ukraine. Unlike the more ‘local’ Russo-Ukrainian war that started in 2014, which caused predominantly internal displacement of citizens, the full-scale invasion on 24 February 2014 resulted in more extensive migration abroad, first and foremost – to the EU countries. In our Internet era, this massive influx of asylum-seekers, refugees and other externally displaced persons (the exact status of such Ukrainian citizens varies from country to country) could not go unnoticed online.

Matti Moisala carried out and defended his MSc study “Mobility of Ukrainians to Europe in 2022 and the effect of social connectedness on destination choice” in our Digital Geography Lab. Matti’s work contributed to the BORDERSPACE project and was supervised by Olle Järv, Oleksandr Karasov, and Tuuli Toivonen. The hypothesis of the study was that the destination choice of Ukrainians depends on their previous social network in the European states, indicated by the Facebook social connectedness index and that Twitter data reflects the actual distribution of Ukrainians among countries.

The social connectedness index describes the relative probability of Facebook friendship links between different geographical areas. While intentionally unavailable for some temporarily occupied regions of Ukraine or connections between Ukraine and Russia, the social connectedness index provides a promising proxy of the strength of social relationships among communities worldwide. According to Figure 1, pre-invasion social connectedness was the strongest with Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, and three Baltic states: Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Ukraine is least socially connected with the UK, France, the Netherlands, Iceland, Norway, Romania, and Turkey.

Continue reading “Friendship matters: Facebook connections explain forced migration patterns of Ukrainians in Europe”

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”

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”

OptiSS 🧐 — A tool to optimize spatial joining of social media data

Authors: Bryan Vallejo, Olle Järv

We developed the OptiSS tool to optimize geodetic spatial joining for assigning geographical attributes to social media data in the BORDERSPACE project at the Digital Geography Lab. The tool has a user-friendly local app, yet its Python script can be easily used in any workflow.

Why we developed the tool?

In the BORDERSPACE project, we need to assign hierarchical spatial attributes (municipality, region, country) to each geo-located tweet. Mostly, geo-located tweets obtained from Twitter’s API already have geographical information such as an administrative unit and a country, in addition to exact coordinates. Yet, not all tweets have such information and, most importantly, some tweets are not located on land – some are just off the coast or somewhere at sea (Figure 1). However, geodetic spatial joining requires computational resources and is time consuming, especially when we have 100+ million geo-located tweets to handle. Thus, we created the OptiSS tool to make computation more efficient. The tool works for any social media data that have at least geographical coordinates.

Figure 1. The OptiSS tool assigns geographical attributes like municipality or country efficiently to social media posts. This is useful particularly when posts are not only located on land, but also off the coast (highlighted in red circles). Continue reading “OptiSS 🧐 — A tool to optimize spatial joining of social media data”

Reflections on the 8th Nordic-Baltic Migration Conference

The second panel ”New Challenges in Cross-Border Mobility, Nordic-Baltic Region” in the Nordic-Baltic Migration Conference in Tallinn, Estonia

Olle Järv from the Digital Geography Lab attended as an expert panellist in the Nordic-Baltic Migration Conference “Cross-border Mobility in the Nordic-Baltic Region organized by the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Office in Tallinn, Estonia on September 18, 2020. Olle participated in the second panel ”New Challenges in Cross-Border Mobility, Nordic-Baltic Region” together with Uffe Palludan (Palludan Fremtidsforskning), Jonas Wendel (Nordic Council of Ministers’), Rolle Alho (Uni Helsinki), and Saara Pellander as a moderator (Migration Institute of Finland). In the panel, Olle briefly introduced his BORDERSPACE research project on cross-border mobility and transnational people, and how these research topics benefit from novel data sources such as social media and mobile phone data.

Continue reading “Reflections on the 8th Nordic-Baltic Migration Conference”