Studying user behavior through a participatory sensing framework in an urban context

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


The widespread use of mobile devices has given birth to participatory sensing, a data collection approach leveraging the sheer number of device users, their mobility, intelligence and device’s increasingly powerful computing and sensing capabilities. As a result, participatory sensing is able to collect various types of information at a high spatial and temporal resolution and it has many applications ranging from measuring cellular signal strength or road condition monitoring to observing the distribution of birds. However, in order to achieve better results from participatory sensing, some issues needed to be dealt with. On a high level, this thesis addressed two issues: (1) the design and development of a participatory sensing framework that allows users to flexibly create campaigns and at the same time collect different types of data and (2) the study of different aspects of the user behaviors in the context of participatory sensing. In particular, the first contribution of the thesis is the design and development of Citizense, a participatory sensing framework that facilitates flexible deployments of participatory sensing campaigns while at the same time providing intuitive interfaces for users to create sensing campaigns and collect a variety of data types. During the real-world deployments of Citizense, it has shown its effectiveness in collecting different types of urban information and subsequently received appreciation from different stakeholders. The second contribution of the thesis is the in-depth study of user behavior under the presence of different monetary incentive mechanisms and the analysis of the spatial and temporal user behavior when participants are simultaneously exposed to a large number of participatory sensing campaigns. Concerning the monetary incentive, it is observed that participants prefer fixed micro-payment to other mechanisms (i.e., lottery, variable micro-payment); their participation was increased significantly when they were given this incentive. When taking part in the participatory sensing process, participants exhibit certain spatial and temporal behaviors. They tend to primarily contribute in their free time during the working week, although the decision to respond and complete a particular participatory sensing campaign seems to be correlated to the campaign’s geographical context and/or the recency of the participants’ activities. Participants can be divided into two groups according to their behaviors: a smaller group of active participants who frequently perform participatory sensing activities and a larger group of regular participants who exhibit more intermittent behaviors.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • NOVA Information Management School (NOVA IMS)
  • Universidad Jaume I
  • University of Münster
  • Casteleyn, Sven, Supervisor, External person
  • Pebesma, E., Supervisor, External person
  • Henriques, Roberto, Supervisor
Award date22 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 22 Nov 2018


  • Participatory sensing
  • User behavior
  • Framework
  • Monetary incentive
  • Data collection


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