Investigating the Complexity of Spatial Interactions between Different Administrative Units in China Using Flickr Data
Location-based social media have facilitated us to bridge the gap between virtual and physical worlds through the exploration of human online dynamics from a geographic perspective. This study uses a large collection of geotagged photos from Flickr to investigate the complexity of spatial interactions at the country level. We adopted three levels of administrative divisions in mainland China—province, city, and county—as basic geographic units and established three types of
... opology—province–province network, city–city network, and county–county network—from the extracted user movement trajectories. We conducted the scaling analysis based on heavy-tailed distribution statistics including power law exponents, goodness of fit index, and ht-index, by which we characterized a great complexity of the trajectory lengths, spatial distribution of geotagged photos, and the related metrics of built networks. The great complexity indicates the highly imbalanced ratio of populated-to-unpopulated areas or large-to-small flows between areas. More interestingly, all power law exponents were around 2 for the networks at various spatial and temporal scales. Such a recurrence of scaling statistics at multiple resolutions can be regarded a statistical self-similarity and could thus help us to reveal the fractal nature of human mobility patterns.