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Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-14-060
Date: July 2014

 

Cell Phone Data and Travel Behavior Research: Symposium Summary Report

The Exploratory Advanced Research Program

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Technical Report Documentation Page

1. Report No.

FHWA-HRT-14-060

2. Government Accession No. 3 Recipient's Catalog No.
4. Title and Subtitle

Cell Phone Data and Travel Behavior Research: Symposium Summary Report

5. Report Date

July 2014

6. Performing Organization Code
7. Author(s)

Gregory Bucci and Tom Morton

8. Performing Organization Report No.

 

9. Performing Organization Name and Address

U.S. Department of Transportation Volpe Center 55
Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02142


Woodward Communications
420 N Street, NW., Suite 102, Washington, DC 20005

10. Work Unit No. (TRAIS)

11. Contract or Grant No.

Contract DTFH61-1 0-V -00031
Contract DTFH61-09-F -00027

12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address

Federal Highway Administration
Office of Policy Information, 1200 New Jersey Ave., SE
Washington, DC 20590


Office of Corporate Research, Technology, and Innovation Management
Federal Highway Administration
6300 Georgetown Pike
McLean, Virginia 22101

13. Type of Report and Period Covered

Symposium Summary Report, February 2014

14. Sponsoring Agency Code

HRTM-30

15. Supplementary Notes

FHWA's Contracting Officer's Task Manager (COTM): Zachary Ellis, HRTM-30 Technical Contact: Brad Gudzinas

16. Abstract

This report summarizes the key themes from a symposium held on February 12, 2014, to discuss opportunities and challenges using cellular location data for national travel behavior analysis. Participants discussed the availability of cellular data and the common types of licensing agreements; applications of cellular data and how it can be leveraged; fusion of cellular data in terms of merging it with other data sources; and validation of cellular data to determine accurate and meaningful results. Particular focal points included applications and limitations of land-use models and data, and using surveys in conjunction with cellular location data to facilitate accuracy and precision.

17. Key Words

Cell phone, cellular data, national travel behavior, agreements, mobile phones, acoustic sensors.

18. Distribution Statement

No restrictions. This document is available to the public data analysis, data validation, data sources, travel through the National Technical Information Service, monitoring, data availability, licensing Springfield, VA 22161.

19. Security Classification
(of this report)

Unclassified

20. Security Classification
(of this page)

Unclassified

21. No. of Pages

28

22. Price

N/A

Form DOT F 1700.7 Reproduction of completed page authorized

SI* (Modern Metric) Conversion Factors

Table of Contents

List of Figures

List of Acronyms and Abbreviations

General Terms
EAR Exploratory Advanced Research
FHWA Federal Highway Administration
FDOT Florida Department of Transportation
GPS Global Positioning System
OD origin–destination
NHTS National Household Travel Survey
TRB Transportation Research Board

Introduction

On February 12, 2014, the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA's) Office of Highway Policy Information, with the Exploratory Advanced Research (EAR) Program, sponsored a Cell Phone Data and Travel Behavior Research Symposium. The symposium brought together data providers in private industry, researchers in academic fields, and other professionals from both public agencies and private businesses and institutes to explore opportunities and challenges using cellular location data for national travel behavior analysis. The authors of this document summarize the key themes discussed during the symposium held at the Transportation Research Board’s (TRB's) Keck Center in Washington, DC.

Discussions centered on the availability of cellular data and the common types of licensing agreements, applications of cellular data and how it can be leveraged, fusion of cellular data in terms of merging it with other data sources, and validation of cellular data to determine accurate and meaningful results. Particular focal points included applications and limitations of land-use models and data and using surveys in conjunction with cellular location data to facilitate accuracy and precision.

FHWA sponsored this symposium in cooperation with the TRB Travel Survey Methods Committee, Special Task Force on Data for Decisions and Performance Measures, and Task Force on Understanding New Directions for the National Household Travel Survey (NHTS).

 

Opening Remarks

The symposium began with representatives of the sponsoring offices providing a brief introduction to their interests in cellular data. David Winter, Director of FHWA's Office of Highway Policy Information, began by stating that cellular data is a very important emerging field. He noted that cellular data can help provide reliable data for national decisionmaking and that the critical next steps include how best to integrate and utilize cellular data with current methods. Winter explained that the Office of Highway Policy Information has worked with TRB and others on several projects, such as the NHTS task force. According to Winter, this type of collaboration will be useful moving forward as researchers explore emerging areas, such as cellular data.

David Kuehn, EAR Program Manager, explained that the EAR Program seeks out advances in science to test possible highway applications. He noted that the program works to reach out to the community, not only to determine what areas are on the cutting edge, but also to improve research outcomes through peer and panel reviews. Kuehn also highlighted that methods for applying cellular data to highway transportation can be viewed as high-risk, high-reward propositions. Cellular data aligns with many of the EAR Program focus areas and can contribute to the long-term goal of better system investment and better system operations.

Tianjia Tang, Travel Monitoring and Surveys Team Leader in the Office of Highway Policy Information, explained that research on applying cell data will assist with determining why, when, and how people travel in a timely and comprehensive manner, which is scientifically and statistically significant. Tang stated that a primary goal would be to determine individual trips, roadway usage, and the reason for the trip on a nationwide scale.

 

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