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Project Description

Traditional paper and phone travel surveys are expensive, time consuming, and have problems of missing trips, illogical trip sequences, and imprecise travel time. GPS-based travel surveys can avoid many of these problems and are becoming increasingly popular in major cities worldwide. However, methodologies have not been developed to catch up with the enormous amount of data generated by the GPS. Despite a few good efforts to detect travel modes, speculating trip purpose from GPS data has proved to be very challenging without information/feedbacks from survey participants. This is especially true in New York City where urban canyon effects are obvious and mixed land use is common.

The proposed project establishes a web-based GIS prototype to speculate trip purpose from GPS data and to validate the results from the survey participants. The prototype will have the functions to collect GPS data from participants through the web, run an algorithm to speculate trip purpose from the GPS data and other transportation and land use data, send back the results to participants for verification or modification, and finally update the data. While reducing the burdens on participants by using GPS, this web-based GIS prototype can provide accurate and validated travel information for transportation modeling and planning.

The proposed method could be expanded from a small group of participants in NYC to larger scales of travel surveys in the future, from one-day surveys to multiple-day surveys, and from one-time survey to year after year survey of the same cohorts. This longitudinal aspect as well as the goal of providing accurate travel information for transportation modeling and planning fits the proposed project well in UTRC’s theme of “Planning and Managing Regional Transportation Systems in a Changing World.”

New York Metropolitan Transportation Council is incorporating a GPS component in the 2009-2010 regional household travel survey. The three PIs in the project have done the pilot testing of using GPS for this survey. The proposed project will help meet the immediate needs of processing the GPS data collected from this survey and validating the data from the participants. As mid-career and junior faculty members from three campuses (Hunter College, University at Albany, and City College) and three disciplines (geography, planning, and civil engineering), we are committed to adopt this unique multi-university and multi-disciplinary approach to tackle a problem in applying innovative GPS/GIS/web technologies to meet the needs of transportation modeling and planning in this region.