July 6, 2011

The Connected States of America is a series of illustrations based on mobile penetration, SMS and call communications. It depicts a new way of defining communities in the US. According to this, the communities which are usually defined geographically - i.e, the group of people around your block, your subdivision, your small town could now be defined by the reach of your cellphone. There’s a pretty nifty interactive map and a video illustrating the findings. All of the maps and visuals are based on research done by the MIT Sensible Lab, AT&T and IBM, aggregated from July 2010. The following gives a brief overview of the study and some key highlights

The Connected States of America




  • Cities are at the heart of communication communities. Businesses, friends and families connect between the largest population centers. Likewise, mobile usage density reflects population density.
  • In this graphic, the top layer represents communities formed by calls and SMS records. The middle part represents calls between counties, with the height of the link representing connection volume. At bottom is a map of population density per square mile.

Call Data Community Map




  • Phone call trends divide the states of California and New Jersey, as communications revolve around the states' major cities.
  • Some neighboring states are conjoined by mobile traffic: the two Carolinas; Oregon and Washington.
  • State borders are obsolete in New England.
  • Michigan and Texas are the rare examples where mobile communications accurately reflect state lines.


SMS Data Community Map


  • In some cases, different call and SMS communities exist.
  • Mississippians tend to call Louisianans more on the phone, but are more likely to text Alabamans.
  • California's SMS traffic divides the state in three, rather than the two communities formed by phone calls.

Interactive Map



The project also released an interactive map, allowing readers to see how their counties connect with the rest of the country. The more red, the higher the number of mobile connections that go there from your county.

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