Computational Social Science Winter Symposium

A SocioPatterns study during the GESIS CSS Winter Symposium

This year, the GESIS CSS Winter Symposium, in association with the CPT in Marseille and the ISI Foundation in Turin, will host a scientific study during the conference itself.

By giving the possibility to record in situ close, face-to-face contacts between individuals, the setup developed by the SocioPatterns collaboration [1] has shed a new light on human interactions in various social contexts: schools, hospitals, workplaces and conferences for example. This has led to many new results about how face-to-face interactions occur, what their properties are, and how these properties constrain processes such as information and epidemic spreading [2,3,4].

The Computational Social Science Group at GESIS will deploy the SocioPatterns setup during the
GESIS CSS Winter Symposium. The goal is to further understand the characteristics and the dynamics of face-to-face encounters between individuals within this particular context. The setup is very simple: every person who agrees to take part in the study will be given a small sensor to wear in their conference badge. This sensor simply detects other sensors that are close enough (less one meter). No other signal, such as GPS localisation or sound for example, is recorded. Of course, the study is anonymous. Optionally, participants will be able to share informations about their gender, institution, title (student, PhD, postdoc, professor), nationality and field of research. Such information is extremely valuable as it allows for deeper studies of the mechanisms by which people meet. In collaboration with the Survey Design and Methodology group at GESIS, additional surveys will also be deployed to SocioPatterns study participants.

This is the first time GESIS hosts a SocioPatterns study, and hopefully it will not be the last. This study is a very good opportunity to gather valuable data about human interactions, but also to present the SocioPatterns setup to the computational social science community. The Computational Social Science group at GESIS thus encourages all participants to the Winter Symposium to take part in this great pilot study.


Dr. Mathieu Génois, postdoctoral researcher at GESIS.


[1] Wearable Sensor Networks for Measuring Face-to-Face Contact Patterns in Healthcare Settings. Barrat, Cattuto et al. Proceedings of the 3rd International ICST Conference on Electronic Healthcare for the 21st century (eHealth 2010).
[2] Close Encounters in a Pediatric Ward: Measuring Face-to-Face Proximity and Mixing Patterns with Wearable Sensors. Isella et al. PLOS ONE 6(2): e17144 (2011).
[3] High-Resolution Measurements of Face-to-Face Contact Patterns in a Primary School. Stehlé et al. PLOS ONE 6(8): e23176 (2011).
[4] Contact patterns among high school students. Fournet et al. PLoS ONE 9(9):e107878 (2014).