What can we learn about the mobility of the elderly in the GPS era?

Noam Shoval*, Gail Auslander, Kineret Cohen-Shalom, Michal Isaacson, Ruth Landau, Jeremia Heinik

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Until recently, the assessment of outdoor mobility of the elderly relied mainly on self-administered time-space diaries or on reports of family caregivers and institutional staff, using observational approaches, activity monitoring, or behavioral checklists. In recent years, however, the rapid development and availability of small, inexpensive, and reliable tracking devices has led to a growing volume of research that uses this technology as a tool for data collection in various disciplines.This paper presents new insights that are now available regarding the outdoor mobility of the elderly due to the analysis of GPS data with automatic scripts and GIS platforms. The data presented are based on the activity of 49 elderly people from the Tel-Aviv Metropolitan area (Israel), who took part in an interdisciplinary project, involving researchers in geography, social work, gerontology, psychology and medicine, that studies the outdoor activities of elderly people in time and space using advanced tracking technologies.Participants were tracked for an average of 28 consecutive days using a location kit that combined GPS with RFID technology. Differences were found in various walking and driving parameters, such as speed, length, timing, and frequency of participants with different levels of cognitive function. The trends present a general decline in out-of-home mobility of elderly people with cognitive impairment and illuminates as well the important role that additional factors as age, gender, and the accessibility to a private car play in determining levels of out-of-home mobility.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)603-612
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Transport Geography
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Support for this project provided by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) within the framework of German–Israeli Project Cooperation (DIP) is gratefully acknowledged.


  • Cognitive impairment
  • Elderly people
  • GPS
  • Walking


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