FS Italiane and Vodafone Business: network data for analysing mobility in Italy

The study was conducted by the FS Research Centre. Part of the data collected and the analyses carried out were published in the “Observatory on Passenger and Freight Mobility Trends (Q1 2023)” of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport

Rome, 27 June 2023

The study looks at the mobility habits of Italians and tells the story of the life of stations using data from mobile phones. This joint operation by the Ferrovie dello Stato Group and Vodafone Business made it possible to analyse mobility within the Italian territory through the Strategic Information Management System (SIMS), FS’ Geospatial data intelligence platform that also uses telephone big data.

The aim is to monitor the evolution and needs of the transport sector in order to better plan investments in transport infrastructure and services. Part of the data collected and the analyses carried out were published in the “Observatory on Passenger and Freight Mobility Trends (Q1 2023)” by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport in May 2023. Heterogeneity on a territorial basis is not to be overlooked. Provinces that are not regional capitals sometimes have higher rates of mobility than others, perhaps because there are fewer opportunities within their territories and due to the consequent and necessary medium- and long-distance daily trips. In terms of distances covered, for example, users living in Basilicata and the central Italian regions bordering the Adriatic Sea (with the exception of Puglia) are characterised by a higher number of kilometres travelled per day.

Elaborations on Italians’ transport habits were conducted by the FS Research Centre, the FS Group’s in-house high competence hub for the development of studies and research on mobility, with the support of Vodafone Business and the innovative start-up Motion Analytica. The technology used is Vodafone Analytics, which collects real-time data from the mobile network – non-personal and anonymised in full compliance with privacy regulations – guaranteeing very precise temporal and spatial information.

This novel approach to mapping people’s mobility via different modes of transport is based on data generated by the Vodafone network through the analysis of some 23 million SIM cards, 200,000 telephone cells spread across the country and 30 billion daily positions referenced in the domain within the time and space reported regarding the total presence in Italy through statistical techniques. 

Results of the mobility survey

An analysis of the aggregated results, conducted by FS Research Centre on a national scale, shows that over the past year, more than 35 million Italians travelled each working day (around 77% of the population of reference) and almost 34 million on public holidays (74% of the population of reference). Each passenger made an average of two and a half trips per day (roughly, a primary round trip plus an additional trip in some cases), for a total distance travelled of around 47 kilometres per day on weekdays and over 50 kilometres on weekends and public holidays. The surveys are conducted in real-time compared to the month prior, which also allows seasonal variations in mobility habits to be analysed.

Life in the stations

Thanks to the analysis of telephone data, FS Research Centre also produces a monthly study which – even taking into account passengers entering our country with foreign SIM cards – analyses presences in three important stations of the national rail network: Roma Termini, Milano Centrale and Napoli Centrale. Figures for April, for example, show that 8.9 million people travelled through Roma Termini station, 7.3 million through Milano Centrale station and 5.5 million through Napoli Centrale station. For these stations, elaborations give an insight into people’s point of origin and destination along with the category of train used (for passengers) and the time spent in the station. The type of movement is also noted, so whether or not it is occasional.