Development of Mobile Mapping Technology to Facilitate Dialog between Transportation Agencies and the Public

Principal Investigator

Ken Kato, University of Oregon

Co-Investigator(s)

Marc Schlossberg, University of Oregon
James Meacham, University of Oregon

Final Report

OTREC-TT-12-01 Development of Mobile Mapping Technology to Facilitate Dialog between Transportation Agencies and the Public [January 2014]

Summary

Communities, agency transportation planners and researchers nation-wide are engaged in efforts to foster dialogue between themselves and the public they serve. Our project identifies mobile phones as a tremendously important tool to facilitate this dialogue. The National Highway Research and Technology Partnership's Highway Research and Technology report identifies the need to improve understanding of the interactions between transportation and society as a priority and sees an emerging technological structure that is heavily linked to information technologies. We see the potential to generate real-time, two-way dialogue between the agencies responsible for planning, creating, and maintaining such infrastructure and the citizens who…

Communities, agency transportation planners and researchers nation-wide are engaged in efforts to foster dialogue between themselves and the public they serve. Our project identifies mobile phones as a tremendously important tool to facilitate this dialogue. The National Highway Research and Technology Partnership’s Highway Research and Technology report identifies the need to improve understanding of the interactions between transportation and society as a priority and sees an emerging technological structure that is heavily linked to information technologies.  We see the potential to generate real-time, two-way dialogue between the agencies responsible for planning, creating, and maintaining such infrastructure and the citizens who use it.

This project will focus on the evaluation of walking and biking environments by furthering the development of mobile phone applications used to assess the variety of elements that comprise these infrastructure systems.  In previous work supported by OTREC, we successfully transferred street-level assessment and audit tools on to an iPhone application within a research-oriented test environment.  That work takes advantage of personal cell phones as spatially aware survey and assessment devices. It shows the potential to engage a large number of citizens and provides an easy to use mechanism for collectively evaluating their environment while educating and empowering them to pursue change. We see an important opportunity to extend this type of Public Participation GIS (PPGIS) by placing transportation authorities directly in this system.

This is important for two reasons:  1. The transportation authorities represent the decision makers, policy makers, etc. and they have an established need and desire for understanding the sentiment of their users, and they require data/input in a format and context most useful to their business practices.  2. They already have the capacity to host the complex IT infrastructure required to support mobile system such as the one we are proposing to model. An important observation from our current work is the importance of the IT infrastructure that is the backbone for such a freely distributed approach. Put simply, for a mobile application system to work it relies on sophisticated hardware, software, and expertise to keep things running. Servers, relational databases, web services, etc have to be harnessed to realize these possibilities. This will, in the end, provide transportation authorities with a more efficient and less expensive way to survey and exchange data with their constituents.  As a cost effective approach, our tool will provide real-time access by instantly transferring data to a server for analysis by transportation professionals, bypassing the time and cost of labor intensive data entry. Additionally, field equipment costs are eliminated since the applications are deployed to privately-owned, GPS-enabled mobile phones.

The purpose of this proposal is to develop further enhancements in application functionality as well as develop a model that facilitates a direct, two-way exchange of data between citizens and transportation authorities. We will demonstrate a process where transportation authorities are able to ‘push’ quantitative data to public users and also instantly ‘pull/receive’ qualitative assessments back. Data is exchanged live and dynamically. Application users can reference current spatial data and provide mobile feedback instantly at the moment of observation. Road authorities and decision makers will have real-time access to collected data for analysis by planners and researchers. We propose to work with the Oregon Department of Transportation’s GIS Unit and Bicycle Planner as well as the City of Eugene, Oregon to develop and pilot this model. Through these collaborations we can broadly deploy these tools with two different road authorities and user groups.

This proposal represents a collaboration between the University of Oregon Geography Department’s InfoGraphics Lab and Planning, Public Policy, and Management Department. This relationship merges interests in advanced geospatial analysis and tool development with transportation planning and public participation. The genesis of this team’s work has featured research emphasizing active and non-motorized transportation and expanding mode choices.  The team can demonstrate a track record of successful projects, research contributions, and an established long-standing research and development relationships with transportation authorities. The application(s) we develop, as well as the documented methodology, will be an important resource for travel behavior data collection in the future.

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Project Details

Year: 2010
Project Cost: $65,642
Project Status: Completed
Start Date: October 1, 2010
End Date: December 31, 2011
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OTREC by the Numbers

  • Total value of projects funded: $12.2 million
  • Number of projects funded: 153
  • Number of faculty partners: 98
  • Number of external partners participating in OTREC: 46

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