It’s undeniable that “Smart Cities” are getting all the buzz these days, especially when it comes to using Big Data for transportation. But it’s not right to leave rural communities out of the conversation. In fact, rural communities stand to reap the same benefits from better travel behavior data as densely populated areas – if not more.
That’s why it’s so upsetting for me to hear this type of comment at industry conferences: “Big Data sounds great. But I know it won’t work in my rural county. There’s not enough coverage.” That’s outdated thinking, plain and simple. It may have been true just a few years ago, but “Big Data” – AKA the billions of location records created by mobile devices every month – is a fast-growing, continually improving resource. With the rise of Location-Based Services (LBS) for smart phones in particular, we’ve seen an explosion of geospatial data sets with excellent coverage in rural areas.
As a Virginia native with family and friends across the many rural areas of the state, this issue hits close to home. I know from our data and my personal experience that rural drivers drive many more miles per day on average than urban drivers. We owe it to these communities to plan transportation systems that account for their unique travel behaviors.
To do that, rural planners need the up-to-date, comprehensive, and precise travel data that is only available from mobile devices. So in this blog post, I’m going to show that Big Data analytics for transportation are in fact widely available and extremely useful for rural areas.
After many years of client requests, we’re releasing the first cut of our StreetLight Volume: 2016 AADT Metric on the StreetLight InSight® platform. These beta Metrics provide a very robust estimate of 2016 Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT) for almost any road in the US. To learn more, keep reading this blog post, or join our webinar on June 16th at 12pm PT. Click here to register for the webinar.
We believe this Metric provides estimates that are comparable or better than most of the standard AADT estimation practices for three reasons:
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The more I work with StreetLight Data’s location-based services (LBS) data set, the more I realize that it is the data source the transportation industry has been waiting for – and that it deserves. Over the past few months, LBS data has emerged as a resource with all the benefits of cellular data, but without its limitations. LBS data can answer a huge array of travel questions that fill in the long-standing information gaps for the transportation industry, especially when used in combination with navigation-GPS data.
But since it’s so new, there’s very little information available to planners about its value today. We’re working to correct that with a series of blog posts that zero in on a different aspect of LBS data – and this is the first. In this post, I’ll highlight LBS data’s spatial precision.
Earlier this year, we integrated our new Location-Based Services data source into the StreetLight InSight® platform. Since then, we have steadily introduced Metrics and features built off that data that help our clients glean even more useful information from our platform. In this blog post, I’ll highlight the most exciting developments. (In case you need a refresher, StreetLight InSight is our easy-to-use cloud-based platform for transforming Massive Mobile Data into analytics that describe travel behavior.)
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the city of Atlanta, where a fire recently destroyed a portion of the I-85. It’s a major highway that hundreds of thousands of people use every day to access to their jobs, their schools, their groceries, and more. For me, the highway’s closure highlights how vital our transportation networks have become to quality of life in our communities. Even in a best case scenario, residents of the Atlanta region are likely to spend several months without this vital transportation connection – and the typical Atlanta resident already spends more than 70 hours in traffic each year. What can we, the transportation community, do to limit the negative consequences of unforeseen events like this? It's not a simple problem for anyone to solve, and we know that the folks in Atlanta are working day and night to solve it. In this blog post, I will describe a few data-driven tactics for reducing congestion misery on I-85 in Atlanta. We hope that this analysis will be useful for detour management in Atlanta in the coming months.
When we founded StreetLight Data back in 2011, our sole focus was to help educate and plan for electric vehicles (EVs). But we quickly realized that our transportation analytics would have a more significant positive impact if we expanded our mission. However, EVs are still one of my deep interests: I drove a Chevy Volt for several years before going car-free just a few months ago, and I focused on EVs in my early career at the Rocky Mountain Institute and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Based on my personal experience, I know we can do a better job of planning and deploying EV charging infrastructure. If we want to see wide adoption of EVs, then we must make charging more convenient and affordable while minimizing its impact on our electrical grid. Given the wave of new charging station deployments in the US and abroad, now seems like the right time to explain how Big Data can help.