Smartphone based travel diary collection: Experiences from a field trial in Stockholm

Publisher's full text
Andreas Allström
Yusak Susilo

Currently, there is a great need for new methods to collect travel data. Traditional methods have considerable drawbacks and, at the same time, the models used to analyse the transport system require more and more detailed and high-quality data. An alternative method that stands out as very promising is to capture raw data from devices that can use any positioning technology (e.g., GPS, WiFi positioning, GSM, etc.), followed by transforming the raw data into meaningful travel data. Since most smartphones are equipped with various sensors that can be used to determine the location of the smartphone, and since smartphones are integrated in the daily life of most people, they provide an unprecedented opportunity for large-scale travel data collection. This method has a great potential to solve the problems related to the estimation of distance/travel time, geographic coding of departure/destination locations and forgotten trips and it will also provide a more detailed and extensive data set. In a recently completed research project the feasibility of replacing or complementing the traditional travel diary, with a suite of tools that make use of smartphone collected travel data has been evaluated. The advantages and disadvantages of the traditional method and the proposed method were studied. For a fair comparison, both methods have been tested in the same city, at the same time, and with the same respondents. To achieve the objectives of the project, MEILI, a system that consists of a smartphone application for capturing the movement of users and a web application for allowing the users to annotate their movement, has been deployed. The recruitment of respondents is a critical phase for traditional travel diaries and, as expected, this was the case also for the smartphone based method. A lesson learnt was that it is important to simplify the registration process as much as possible. In total 2142 trips were collected and annotated by 171 users. 51 of the users annotated trips covering more than a week. The experiences from the field trial shows that a smartphone based travel diary collection is a very useful complement to traditional travel diary collection methods since it appeals to a different age group and collects more detailed travel data for a longer period. The main findings of the paper are that smartphone based data collection is feasible, that the algorithms to save battery work well and that trips of the same respondent vary considerably depending on day of the week.

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