Mobilities and Interactions of People Crossing State Borders: Big Data to Reveal Transnational People and Spaces



Our global network society is about constant mobilities of everything that transcends nation-state borders. In the age of globalization, increasing flows of mobilities crossing state borders represent a key manifestation of transnationalism – one of the central concepts and theories for understanding socio-spatial processes and phenomena beyond nation state borders. Socio-spatial interactions such as transnational human mobilities and social engagement are the centerpiece of forming and transforming existing political, economic, cultural, religious and social spaces, and boundaries and identities.

In the EU “borderless world”, cross-border interaction and integration is a key issue towards balanced and sustainable socio-spatial cohesion within the EU. However, not much is known about the rapidly increasing bordering practices - cross-border daily mobilities and social interactions - that are one underlying force to the transforming of new functional transnational spaces and shaping transational people.

This research applies novel big data approach to provide invaluable insights for research and practice on transnational socio-spatial interactions. We consider big data sources from mobile devices such as mobile phone positioning and social media data as proxies for people, and examine how such data allow us to reveal cross-border mobilities, social networks and interactions of people in a global world. Our particular focus is on people who cross state borders to perform their daily life practices, and how these practices are influenced by external factors (e.g. COVID-19).

Our research seek:

  1. Enhanced concepts and methods to understand socio-spatial practices of people beyond state borders from big data;
  2. Conceptual framework to understand transnational spaces and transnational people;
  3. New knowledge about the emerging functional transnational spaces and their role in European spatial planning; and
  4. Information for policy-making and indicators to evaluate the effectiveness of cross-border policy initiatives and progress towards EU's spatial planning goals.

We currently examine publicly available geo-located Twitter data in two case study regions in the EU: 1) Finland - Estonia; and 2) The Greater Region of Luxembourg. In collaboration with Mobility Lab at Tartu University, we work with a longitudinal smartphone tracking study on Estonians living in Finland.



There are three MSc theses published related to the BORDERSPACE-project:



Following people are involved:

Olle Järv (PI, Academy Research Fellow)

Kerli Müürisepp (PhD candidate)

Tuomas Väisänen (PhD candidate)

Håvard Wallin Aagesen (PhD candidate)

Bryan Vallejo (MSc student)

Emily Dovydaitis (MSc student)

Emil Ehn­ström (MSc student)

Interested to work with this topic as part of your MSc, PhD or post-doc research? Email me!


Former contributors:

Samuli Massinen (MSc)



The research has received several fundings:

  • Academy of Finland (Academy Research Fellow) for the period 2020-2025
  • University of Helsinki (post-doctoral grant) for the period 2018-2020
  • Kone Foundation (post-doctoral grant) for the period 2017-2023