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Project Type
UTRC Research Initiative
Project Dates
12/01/2011 - 07/31/2013
Principal Investigators
Project Status

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, there is GPS signal loss or degradation in high-density cities such as NYC where urban canyon effects are significant, underground subway and commuter rail travels are extensive, GPS cold/warm start problems are obvious, and mixed land use is common. We propose in this project to develop application software of using smartphones to combine GPS/GIS/Internet/mobile technologies for travel survey and research. It will put together the GIS algorithms and Web GIS we developed in the past few years to produce efficient results for the UTRC funding.

Using smartphones has many advantages over using handheld GPS loggers in collecting travel survey data. In addition to satellite signals, smartphones can use WiFi and assisted GPS provided by cell phone carriers to log locations. Smartphones with Internet connections allow survey respondents to interact real time with the GIS server to verify results from the GIS algorithms, answer questions about trip purposes, and provide photos of activity stops if necessary. Smartphones are typically equipped with accelerometers that can output acceleration measurements to help mode detection underground. Logistically, since smartphones are becoming very popular, using smartphones can eliminate costs associated with purchasing, distributing, and collecting GPS loggers.

The application software developed from this project will be useful for future travel surveys in this region and to provide accurate data for updating the New York Best Practice Model. The research approach can be applied elsewhere as well. The two PIs in this project are mid-career and junior faculty members in the UTRC consortium. They adopted this multi-disciplinary and multi-college approach to tackle a problem in applying innovative GPS/GIS/Internet/mobile technologies to meet the needs of travel demand forecasting and transportation planning. The graduate students hired for this project will particularly benefit from this unique approach and have the chance to gain skills and experience of using new technologies. The results from this project will also be used by the PIs in the education of students in transportation and GIS research at both Hunter College and City College.