Social Fabric

Social media graphics


For three years, researchers from the University of Copenhagen and the Technical University of Denmark harvested and analysed data activity from up to 1,000 students’ smartphones as part of the Social Fabric project, and the researchers now have precise knowledge of how, when and how much the young people communicate with their fellow students. The data shows whether the students talk on the phone, write texts, emails or Facebook messages, or meet physically.

The project was part of the UCPH Excellence Programme for Interdisciplinary Research.


Social Fabric was an interdisciplinary research project aimed at answering a range of questions regarding the formation and importance of social networks. An integral part of the project was the experiment SensibleDTU, in which 1000 freshmen at the Technical University of Denmark were given a smart phone that logged their social interactions, thus supplying a more than state-of-the-art empirical data set that formed a basis for the investigation. Furthermore the experiment in itself served as a research object, since part of the goal was an examination of big data research, and specifically ethical and methodological questions within in. You can read a much more detailed description of the project objectives in the research section.

The project engaged researchers from a wide range of fields in both natural sciences, social sciences and the humanities. The following departments were represented in the project:

The program ran in the period 2013-2017, and was funded by a grant of DKK 16 million from the University of Copenhagen Programmes of Excellence for Interdisciplinary Research.


The project was made in collaboration with the group of Sune Lehmann at DTU Compute, The Technical University of Denmark, who was in charge of the SensibleDTU experiment.

Furthermore, Sune and his group worked on how to model dynamic networks and their properties mathematically.

DTU Compute, The Technical University of Denmark

  • Sune Lehmann, main coordinator of the SensibleDTU experiment, Associate Professor, DTU Compute
  • Jakob Eg Larsen, Associate Professor, DTU Compute
  • Arek Stopczynski, PhD Student, DTU Compute
  • Vedran Sekara, PhD Student, DTU Compute
  • Piotr Sapiezynski, PhD Student, DTU Compute
  • Andre Cuttone, PhD Student, DTU Compute










An important part of the Social Fabric project was SensibleDTU experiment: the collection of a data set of hitherto unprecedented size and quality by the distribution of smart phones to 1000 newly started students at the Technical University of Denmark. The phones came equipped with an app that collected data on social interactions among the students on all relevant channels: face-to-face (via Bluetooth), sms, phone conversations, email and online social networks.

The data not only served the researchers but also the participants themselves. A focus area of the DTU project was to innovate how the data could be made available and useful for the students.

The experiment had its own website (, but the website no longer exists.

Participation was only open for DTU Students in their bachelor’s degree during the academic year 2013-14.







Contact to researcher

David Dreyer Lassen
Department of Economics
Phone: +45 35 32 44 12

Project period

The project ran from 2013-2017