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Can data from commercial sources work as well as traditional traffic survey data?

Finding new sources of travel data to support regional models in Ohio

Challenge

Traditional traffic surveys are expensive and can disrupt travelers and traffic flow. The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is interested in evaluating new methods for collecting travel data in support of developing regional models throughout the state. Several companies sell archived travel data that they routinely collect from cell phones, smartphone apps, and other GPS-based sources.

Westat has teamed with Ohio State University to evaluate the commercial data and advise ODOT on the technical feasibility of replacing traditional methods with these new approaches.

Solution

Archived data for a single region in Ohio were purchased from companies that collected data from cell phones, navigation apps, or from commercial vehicle sources.

We are analyzing and comparing the data to data from ODOT’s most recent traditional external travel survey, as well as other current and socioeconomic data sources. External travel surveys provide information on the type and number of travelers entering, leaving, or passing through a region. These details are typically not available from third-party data.

Results

ODOT will have the information it needs to decide whether the commercial travel data provide the information needed to support regional models.

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