United Kingdom - Highways England’s Road Investment Strategy sets out a long-term approach for improving the country’s major roads and motorways. To help develop schemes identified as part of this improvement strategy, Highways England commissioned five regional traffic models to assess traffic flows and capacity on various route. These models covered the North, the Northern Powerhouse, the Midlands, the South West and South East of England. Appointed as Project Manager by Highways England, Arcadis was responsible for mapping the South West and South East regions, integrating the use of mobile phone data to better understand travel patterns across the area.
Each of the five regional models required an accurate ‘origin-destination’ (OD) trip matrix to be produced.
Traditionally, these trip matrices have relied on data collected manually, including census surveys, road side interviews and household surveys. However, the upsurge in mobile phone ownership and mobile phone data offers a new and alternative data source. Compared to the conventional approach, the OD matrices developed with mobile phone data offer much wider geographical coverage, higher sample size, can take into account the day-to-day variability of trips and provide potential time and cost savings.
However, due to the relative newness of this approach, no established practice or review of the technical issues around incorporating mobile phone data into OD trip matrices yet exists.
For example, privacy laws and other standards dictate that the OD data released by mobile phone companies must be pre-processed before it can be released. This process typically involves cleaning, anonymising, aggregating and then, to make it suitable for use in OD matrices, applying various algorithms.
However, is this data then still fit for use?
This is just one of many issues that could impact on the quality of the data. However, working with a number of consortium partners, Arcadis developed a comprehensive approach to verifying and validating the pre-processed data to ensure that it could still be used and provide an accurate result.
It was only once all of these requirements were satisfied that the data was incorporated into the OD matrices and used to produce the required traffic models.
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