NCHRP Report 868—
A Practitioner's Guide

Introducing New Research on Cell Phone Location Data for Travel Behavior Analysis

Using call detail records from anonymized cell phone location data is becoming more common when modeling, evaluating and analyzing flow patterns. Given the enormity and complexity of these data, NCHRP commissioned Report 868 on July 13, 2018 to provide transportation practitioners with guidelines on:

Evaluating

the extent to which cell phone location data and associated products accurately depict travel

Identifying

how these data can be used to improve the understanding of travel characteristics

Quantifying

the strengths and weaknesses of anonymized call detail record data

The research team, led by Cambridge Systematics Principals Kimon Proussaloglou, Dan Beagan and Anurag Komanduri with support from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, compared a model informed by anonymized cell phone location data with one using more traditional data.

Hear directly from the experts behind the research

The Cambridge Systematics researchers sat down for a discussion about the project—what made it exciting, the value of the findings, and what it says about the trajectory of modeling practices. Preview a few clips below, or link to the full 51:23 minute conversation.

What do the researchers have to say about the evolution of data types and its implications?

What did the research teach us about the effectiveness of these new data types?

What is the impact of cell phone location data on travel models, compared with traditional methods like surveys?

Can practitioners marry cell phone data with locational precision?

What you need to know about anonymized cell phone location data

NCHRP Report 868 features two key sections:

Section 1 presents guidelines for transportation planners and travel modelers on how to evaluate the extent to which anonymized cell phone location data and associated products accurately depict travel; identify whether and how these extensive data resources can be used to improve our understanding of travel characteristics and our ability to model travel patterns and behavior more effectively; and support practitioners’ evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of anonymized call detail record locations from cell phone data.

Section 2 provides a guidebook for transportation practitioners and agency staff who are interested in developing and applying new methods of capturing travel data from cell phones to enhance travel models.

Read the full NCHRP Report 868

Join our conversation about anonymized cell phone location data

Cambridge Systematics’ ongoing commitment to helping data DriveForward

We’re creating solutions to translate data into usable information for transportation agencies. Watch this clip to hear Anurag explain its importance.

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