Bay Area Traffic Decoded: What cell phone and GPS data reveals about traffic patterns

580 and I80 Traffic Jam

A new article from researchers at MIT and UC Berkeley uses data from cell phones and GPS to track traffic patterns. "Understanding Road Usage Patterns in Urban Areas" from December's Scientific Reports assess how drivers from certain areas effect the whole network. 

 We find that the major usage of each road segment can be traced to its own - surprisingly few - driver sources. Based on this finding we propose a network of road usage by defining a bipartite network framework, demonstrating that in contrast to traditional approaches, which define road importance solely by topological measures, the role of a road segment depends on both: its betweeness and its degree in the road usage network. Moreover, our ability to pinpoint the few driver sources contributing to the major traffic flow allows us to create a strategy that achieves a significant reduction of the travel time across the entire road system, compared to a benchmark approach.

Drivers from Sanjose, Hayward, Dublin, San Rafel and San Ramon often find themselves stuck in the worst traffic. Could more metering be the answer?