Using and Modeling Multimodal Data

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We need better data and tools for decision-making. Our research advances the collection, methodology, and analysis of multimodal data that supports professionals and researchers in understanding and predicting human travel behavior in order to optimize those systems for both the providers and users. These new models and tools examine the implications of changes to the system on a range of outcomes including equity, the environment, and health.

What are the impacts of our research on how we can better collect, use and model multimodal data?

Learn more here about the other impacts from a decade of research funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities.

Modeling tool supports transit agencies transition to electric buses while prioritizing environmental equity.

The transit industry is rapidly transitioning to electric buses because of the environmental and financial benefits they can offer, such as zero emissions, less noise, and lower maintenance costs. Electric buses also produce significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions than diesel, diesel hybrid and natural gas-powered buses, which is good news for tackling our climate crisis. Led by Xiaoyue Cathy Liu of the University of Utah, NITC researchers have created a web-based modeling tool for the Utah Transit Authority that lets transit providers explore the impacts of changing their system over to electric buses. The tool allows agencies to plan the most effective way to transition while prioritizing environmental equity, focusing first on low-income areas with poor air quality. Developed a modeling tool for transit agencies to determine how best to deploy battery-electric buses and stations that is both cost effective and consistent with agencies equity goals.

"The blocking piece is one of the more unique and helpful elements of this tool. We are making investments based on her recommendations, from the model and the tool, for five more high-powered chargers in our system.... You can optimize to a lot of different factors using her model. It's a really good tool in that you can use in multiple ways to make better business decisions for both your agency and the community."
-Manager of Systems Planning and Project Development, Utah Transit Authority

Learn more about Bi-objective Optimization for Battery Electric Bus Deployment Considering Cost and Environmental Equity, led by Xiaoyue Cathy Liu of University of Utah.

Bike-Ped Portal offers a centralized standard count database for non-motorized data nationwide.

A national non-motorized count data archive, BikePed Portal provides a centralized standard count database for public agencies, researchers, educators, and other curious members of the public to view and download bicycle and pedestrian count data. It includes automated and manual counts from across the country, and supports screenline and turning movement counts. Pooling funds, the data archive was established in 2015 by researchers at Portland State University with project partners at Federal Highway Administration and many transportation agencies. Hau Hagedorn and data scientist Tammy Lee manage the continued development and implementation of BikePed Portal.

Another research project funded by NITC, led by Nathan McNeil of PSU, offers a method for monitoring the quality of this bike-ped count data. "There has been an effort to collect more bike-ped count data in recent years, but it hasn't been consistent in terms of what's being collected and how it's stored. If the data aren't in a uniform format, or aren't stored in a location where they can be easily accessed in bulk, then doing a deep scan of the data would be a challenge," McNeil said. 

Researchers at the Mineta Transportation Institute of the San Jose University used BikePed Portal data to examine the consistency between crowdsourced and traditionally collected count data to obtain more accurate bicyclist and pedestrian counts, which is critical to better designing active transportation-related facilities and empowering people who walk and cycle.

Learn more about Biking and Walking Quality Counts: Using “BikePed Portal” Counts to Develop Data Quality Checks and access the BikePed Portal here.

Visual analysis tools highlight the usefulness and value of GPS trajectory data.

The University of Utah has a new data visualization service to offer to state DOTs and other agencies. Using Small Starts funding from NITC, researcher Nikola Markovic and his team have developed a suite of visual analysis tools to demonstrate how GPS trajectory data can help accurately model and analyze mobility trends. These data are typically purchased from vendors, which means that transportation agencies must first understand the benefits before they decide to invest in data acquisition. To help agencies see that value, the research team purchased one month of Utah trajectory data to work with, which included detailed information about 2.5 million trips. The researchers created several visual analysis tools to highlight the usefulness and value of GPS trajectory data in transportation planning and performance measurement. The interactive online animations included: Vehicles Traveling; Utah Variable Traffic Density Heatmap; Trips Between Counties, Chord Diagram; and Trips Entering and Exiting Salt Lake City.

We are also using GPS data in the analysis of the Istanbul BRT line with fully GPS-equipped buses and also big data of electronic fare card records to investigate the passengers' trip movements between origin and destination stations during peak hours and the day. In this respect, the final products of your research are useful especially in developing our visual presentations of the outcomes.
-Associate Professor, Yildiz Technical University

Learn more about Visual Exploration of Utah Trajectory Data and their Applications in Transportation, led by Nikola Markovic of University of Utah.