NCHRP 775: Applying GPS Data to Understand Travel Behavior
Wolf, Jean; William Bachman; Marcelo Simas Oliveira; Joshua Auld; Abofazl (Kouros) Mohammadian; Peter Vovsha
This report provides guidelines on the use of multiple sources of GPS data to understand travel behavior and activity. The guidelines are intended to provide a jump-start for processing GPS data for travel behavior purposes and provide key information elements that practitioners should consider when using GPS data. The report will be of interest to transportation planners, travel modelers, and travel survey practitioners.
With the high costs associated with primary data collection, methods to improve the use and accessibility of newer sources of data such as Global Positioning System (GPS) data can benefit many transportation practitioners. GPS data can have multiple uses beyond traditional applications such as estimates of speed and travel times. GPS-related data that have been collected from automatic vehicle location systems, from highway sensors, as supplemental information to traditional travel surveys, and via passive technologies [e.g., Bluetooth, radio frequency identification (RFID), and smartphones] have shown promise for additional planning purposes. Some challenges to increased use of GPS data include addressing data bias; balancing precision, coverage, and confidentiality; resolving institutional issues such as data ownership; and addressing the complexity of combining these data with other sources to discern behavioral relationships. While it has been generally accepted that GPS data have a wide variety of uses, research was needed to assist in their use by transportation planners, travel modelers, and travel survey practitioners.
The research under NCHRP Project 8-89 was performed by Jean Wolf, William Bachman, and Marcelo Simas Oliveira of Westat | GeoStats Services, Atlanta, Georgia, in association with Joshua Auld and Kouros Mohammadian from University of Illinois, Chicago, Peter Vovsha from Parsons Brinckerhoff, Inc., and Johanna Zmud from RAND Corporation. Information was gathered via literature review and from interviews with practitioners, data providers, and researchers. The next stage of research explored a number of analytical approaches for extracting information from traces of GPS data. Only a few of those methods could be easily translated into clear and defensible methods (or standards) for processing GPS travel trace data. The research team selected the most promising and valuable analytical procedures for testing and evaluation within the scope of this research effort and applied these methods using datasets available from several GPS-enhanced travel surveys conducted within the past decade.
The report is structured in two volumes. Volume 1 presents the methods used and results of tests conducted. Volume II translates the results of the tests conducted into guidelines for planners and researchers to implement these procedures.
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