Equity in Accessibility to Opportunities: Insights, Measures, and Solutions based on Mobile Device Location Data

This research project will study the accessibility to basic lifeline opportunities such as jobs, healthy food, and healthcare, among different population groups and neighborhoods in the Baltimore and Washington D.C. region, with a focus on disadvantaged population groups and underserved communities. The proposed study is the first of its kind in utilizing observed multimodal travel big data from individual mobile devices to systematically study accessibility for underserved population groups. Passively collected mobile device location data, already procured through a federally funded research project at UMD, reveals day-to-day travel patterns of more than 40% of the entire population in the entire nation including the Baltimore and Washington D.C. region for an entire year. This new data source with very high sampling rates, combined with point of interest data and census data, allows the UMD-Morgan project team to analyze how residents in each socio-demographic group and in each neighborhood actually travel to work, purchase food, and seek health care services. Research findings will directly identify accessibility gaps among various population groups and neighborhoods, and more importantly, identify feasible solutions to improve accessibility for disadvantaged population group and underserved communities. Accessibility and equity measured from mobile device big data will be compared with traditional measures. In addition, accessibility patterns and trends in Baltimore and Washington D.C. will be compared based on big data observations. The product of this research project will be an interactive data analytics and mapping toolbox that can be used to query these data-driven accessibility measures for improved understanding and decision-making. State and local governments, as well as non-profit organizations, have already showed strong support for this proposed research (see support letters from MDOT State Highway Administration, City of Baltimore, Baltimore Food Policy Initiative, and Health Care for the Homeless). MDOT SHA has also committed $100,000 in cash cost share in their support letter.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $135000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Grant No. 69A43551747123

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

    University Transportation Centers Program
    Department of Transportation
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Managing Organizations:

    University of Maryland, College Park

    Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
    College Park, MD  United States  20742
  • Performing Organizations:

    University of Maryland, College Park

    3112 Lee Building
    College Park, MD  United States  20742

    Morgan State University

    1700 E. Cold Spring Lane
    Baltimore, MD 21251, Maryland  United States  21251
  • Principal Investigators:

    Shin, Hyeon-Shic

    Zhang, Lei

  • Start Date: 20190801
  • Expected Completion Date: 20210226
  • Actual Completion Date: 20210331
  • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers Program

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01711287
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Urban Mobility & Equity Center
  • Contract Numbers: Grant No. 69A43551747123
  • Files: UTC, RIP
  • Created Date: Jul 18 2019 12:10PM