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Traffic Flow Estimation Models Using Cellular Phone Data

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4 Author(s)
Caceres, N. ; Dept. of Transp. Eng., Univ. of Seville, Seville, Spain ; Romero, L.M. ; Benitez, F.G. ; del Castillo, J.M.

Traffic volume is a parameter used to quantify demand in transportation studies, and it is commonly collected by using on-road (fixed) sensors such as inductive loops, cameras, etc. The installation of fixed sensors to cover all roads is neither practical nor economically feasible; therefore, they are only installed on a subset of links. Cellular phone tracking has been an emerging topic developed and investigated during the last few years to extract traffic information. Cellular systems provide alternative methods to detect phones in motion without the cost and coverage limitations associated with those infrastructure-based solutions. Utilizing existing cellular systems to capture traffic volume has a major advantage compared with other solutions, since it avoids new and expensive hardware installations of sensors, with a large number of cellular phones acting as probes. This paper proposes a set of models for inferring the number of vehicles moving from one cell to another by means of anonymous call data of phones. The models contain, in their functional form, terms related to the users' calling behavior and other characteristics of the phenomenon such as hourly intensity in calls and vehicles. A set of intercell boundaries with different traffic background and characteristics were selected for the field test. The experiment results show that reasonable estimates are achieved by comparison with volume measurements collected by detectors located in the same study area. The motion of phones while being involved in calls can be used as an easily accessible, fast, and low-cost alternative to deriving volume data on intercell boundaries.

Published in:

Intelligent Transportation Systems, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:13 ,  Issue: 3 )