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LiU researchers untangle Stockholm traffic

Using large volumes of mobile data, travel flows in Stockholm traffic can be predicted and the traffic can be managed in real time. In three years the system should be ready. Project manager is Di Yuan, professor at LiU.

We are constantly connected through our mobile phones. We send text messages, we post on Twitter and Facebook. We google and use a range of navigation services. All of this means we populate mobile networks with large amounts of data about our whereabouts.

“We realised more than ten years ago that all mobile data can be useful,” says Di Yuan, professor in mobile telecommunications at Linköping University’s Norrköping campus.

David Gundlegård, Clas Rydegren and Di YuanDi Yuan is coordinator of a three-year research project with SEK 4.9m of funding from Vinnova. Other participants are David Gundlegård, assistant lecturer, mobile telecommunications group, and Clas Rydergren, senior lecturer, traffic systems group, researcher at SICS in Stockholm and at Ericsson in Kista, Stockholm. Together they will develop models which use mobile data to predict travel flows and control traffic in real time.

“We also collaborate with Trafik Stockholm and the City of Stockholm so we can estimate the demand for trips dynamically. This is necessary to avoid traffic jams and is important input for environmental efforts at the City of Stockholm,” says David Gundlegård.

The information is also important for long-term urban and infrastructure planning. For instance, it will be easier to predict what happens if a new highway is built – what effects it has on travel flows, accessibility and environment. It also delivers completely new opportunities for evaluating the investment. In this area, Sweco Infrastructure is a project partner.

Of course it is also important to protect the integrity of the individual mobile phone user.

“In our project, SICS develops methods for anonymising data before it leaves the phone company. The aim is that the information can be used while providing full integrity for the user,” says Mr. Gundlegård.

Ericsson has an important role in the project – developing a platform that can manage large data volumes, where it is also possible to analyse in real time how and where transports and people are moving.

As for the LiU researchers, they will develop models and methods to estimate travel flows in real time. The information will also be used in combination with traffic models, geographic data, measurements of travel time and travel flows as well as up-to-date information on traffic incidents, in order to better predict the traffic situation. Initially the models will be tested on simulated data, but in three years, when the project is finished, the aim is that it will work with anonymised, full-integrity data from mobile networks throughout the Stockholm region.

“Another benefit of using mobile data is that we cover all transport types, which facilitates planning and control of transports, ” says Dr Yuan.

The principles work, which the researchers already know. One project in Ivory Coast, using data from Orange, showed the potential of planning and controlling the transport system with help from mobile data.

 “These systems will be especially valuable in developing countries, where there are not very many sensors in the transport systems, but lots of mobile phones. We have a very competent project team and we expect good progress. If mobile data is used correctly, we can revolutionise the control and planning of transport systems,” says Dr Yuan.


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Last updated: 2017-02-13