Cell Phone Location Data for Travel Behavior Analysis

The objectives of this research were to: (1) evaluate the extent to which cell phone location data and associated products accurately depict travel and (2) provide guidelines on the use of these data to understand and model travel patterns and behavior. The results are directed at transportation planners, travel modelers, and travel survey practitioners. Accomplishment of the project objectives addressed the following tasks. (Task 1). Interview 5-7 transportation agency practitioners with experience on cell phone location data to document institutional and organizational arrangements for acquiring cell phone location data for studying travel behavior. Prepare a technical memorandum evaluating the results of the interviews. The evaluation should include factors such as but not limited to: (a) current providers, (b) costs for acquisition, (c) types of data available, (d) data use agreements, and (e) potential future arrangements. (Task 2). Evaluate current use of cell phone location data for purposes of studying travel behavior. Prepare a technical memorandum describing data quality and application. Discussion of data quality issues should include factors such as: (a) expanding the data to represent population groups and travel behavior, (b) bias, (c) geographic level of detail, (d) availability and resolution of data for urban and rural areas, (e) effect of data suppression, (f) use of data in conjunction with other travel data, and (g) coverage among both cell phone users and cell phone carriers. Discussion of data application issues should include factors such as: (a) the use of the data in different types of travel behavior analyses (e.g., trip purpose, long distance travel, seasonal travel, trip chaining, special event planning, and mode) and (b) use of data in development, estimation, and calibration and validation of a travel demand model (e.g., work and non-work origin-destination matrices, tour composition, individual and joint travel, and activity duration). The discussion should prioritize elements that can be accomplished within the constraints of budget, availability of data, and methods. (Task 3). Prepare an interim report that includes (a) a summary of Tasks 1 and 2 technical memoranda, (b) an updated Task 4 work plan to compare cell phone location data to other sources, and (c) an annotated outline for the guidelines to be produced in Task 5. The elements of the updated Task 4 work plan should include methods to: (a) develop reasonableness checks to understand the quality of cell phone location data for purposes of studying travel behavior, (b) quantitatively compare cell phone location data with other data (e.g., traffic counts, Census-based data, travel surveys, global positioning survey (GPS) or other sources, but not outputs from travel demand models), and (c) develop statistical indicators and benchmarks of data quality. Factors for comparison should include those that permit travel behavior analysis (e.g., flows by trip purpose and trip length frequency distribution). (Task 4). Implement the approved work plan and prepare a technical memorandum providing: (a) reasonableness checks to understand the quality of cell phone location data for purposes of studying travel behavior, (b) quantitative comparisons of the results obtained from cell phone location data with other data, and (c) statistical indicators and benchmarks of data quality. (Task 5). Develop guidelines on the use of cell phone location data to understand and model travel patterns and behavior. The guidelines should provide a step-by-step approach for practitioners to prepare, process, validate, and apply cell phone location data for different travel behavior analyses. The guidelines should address: (1) data acquisition, (2) data quality issues including (a) reasonableness checks, (b) quantitative comparisons, (c) statistical indicators and benchmarks of data quality, (d) data expansion, (e) bias, (f) geographic level of detail, (g) availability and resolution of data, (h) data suppression, and (i) coverage, and (3) applications of data including (a) the use of the data in different types of travel behavior analyses and (b) use of data in development, estimation, and calibration and validation of a travel demand model. In addition, prepare a final report documenting the research used in the development of the guidelines. A Final report has been submitted and is now under review. Publication is expected in the 1st Quarter 2018.

Language

  • English

Project

  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $250000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 08-95

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590

    American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW, Suite 225
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001
  • Project Managers:

    Goldstein, Lawrence

  • Performing Organizations:

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge

    77 Massachusetts Avenue
    Cambridge, MA  United States  02139

    Cambridge Systematics, Incorporated

    100 Cambridge Park Drive
    Suite 4000
    Cambridge, MA  United States  02140-2369
  • Principal Investigators:

    Proussaloglou, Kimon

  • Start Date: 20140530
  • Expected Completion Date: 20171231
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • Source Data: RiP Project 37718

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01543716
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 08-95
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Nov 20 2014 1:04AM