Location-Based Services Data

Location-based Service (LBS) data is aggregated from smartphone and other mobile device applications (“apps”). LBS data is not based on a single technology such as cell-tower signaling or GPS; rather, these data represent the best location available to mobile apps at a particular point in time, which could come from GPS, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth beacons, or cell-tower signaling under various circumstances (although its reliance on the last is limited). LBS data is the newest type of origin-destination (OD) big data and has only recently become available for widespread use in transportation analysis as of 2017.

# Precision

In contrast to cell-based data, LBS data offers better spatial precision, although its resolution is less than that of GPS data. Locational precision is claimed to be between 10 and 100 meters, with most data observations precise to better than 50 meters.

# Sample Penetration

Sample penetration can vary by region due in part to the varying popularity of apps in different markets. However, sample penetration is expected to be less variable than in cell-based data given the large number of apps LBS draws on. Some studies have found LBS data to include 5–8% of the vehicles in a corridor drawn from observations of up to 15% of the population. LBS data is often provided for multiple months, increasing the overall sample size and offsetting slightly lower penetration rates compared to cellular data.

# Device Identifier Persistence

Like cell-based data and unlike most GPS data, LBS data have longer term device ID persistence. This can be used both to correct for demographic biases using imputed residence locations and to support long-distance and visitor travel analyses.

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