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Assessing the Value of New Big Data Sources for Transportation Planning: Benton Harbor, Michigan Case Study

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Abstract

Transportation professionals and researchers have traditionally relied on household travel surveys to understand transportation needs, especially for transit-dependent and other environmental justice communities. Recently, new big data sources have become available for transportation planning applications. The purpose of this article is to compare a traditional household travel survey with two such datasets used by practitioners: SafeGraph and StreetLight. The analysis compares the coverage and travel patterns they provide across a socioeconomically diverse small region centered on the twin cities of Benton Harbor and St. Joseph, Michigan, USA. Although lacking demographic data, the big data sources provide greater coverage and detail for parts of the region home to the African American population important for environmental justice analysis. In addition, SafeGraph data derived from cell phones provides potentially useful point-of-interest and time-of-day travel information lacking from the conventional survey. The article describes the potential for data fusion for enhanced understanding of community needs.

Keywords

  • Transportation
  • Big data
  • Environmental justice
  • Transportation planning
  • Smartphone data

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Fig. 8.1

Data Sources: ACS 2014-2018 5-year estimates. Race and poverty status in the past 12 months of families data was retrieved from census block groups level. Fixed route service maps (2020) were available from the TCATA website (https://www.mywaythere.org/fixedroute.asp). Jurisdiction boundaries were according to Michigan Minor Civil Divisions (Cities & Townships) (v17a). Census block group boundaries were according to 2018 Michigan census block groups TIGER/Line Shapefile

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Notes

  1. 1.

    AirSage (www.airsage.com), Cellint (www.cellint.com), Citilabs Streetlytics (www.citilabs.com/software/streetlytics/), SafeGraph (www.safegraph.com), Veraset (www.veraset.com), Streetlight Data (www.streetlightdata.com).

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Correspondence to Robert Goodspeed .

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Appendix A

Appendix A

Summary of travel flow information

Community 1 Community 2 SafeGraph (%) MTC % of regional trips (%) Streetlight % of regional index values (%)
Benton Harbor Benton Township 4.0 5.8 8.3
Benton Harbor St. Joseph 0.9 2.7 5.8
Benton Harbor Lincoln Township 0.7 1.3 5.9
Benton Harbor St. Joseph Twp 0.8 0.7
Benton Harbor Sodus Township 0.1 0.1 0.1
Benton Harbor Royalton Township 0.3 0.7 1.5
St. Joseph Benton Township 2.2 4.2 5.2
St. Joseph Lincoln Township 3.3 5.8 11.2
St. Joseph St. Joseph Twp 3.6 7.2
St. Joseph Sodus Township 0.3 0.2 0.1
St. Joseph Royalton Township 1.3 4.1 3.2
Benton Township Lincoln Township 2.4 3.8 7.8
Benton Township St. Joseph Twp 2.9 3.6  
Benton Township Sodus Township 0.6 1.4 0.7
Benton Township Royalton Township 1.1 2.6 3.5
Sodus Township St. Joseph Twp 0.2 0.1 0.4
Sodus Township Lincoln Township 0.3 0.4
Sodus Township Royalton Township 0.1 0.2 0.1
Royalton Township St. Joseph Twp 1.3 3.5 7.8
Royalton Township Lincoln Township 1.9 4.2
St. Joseph Twp Lincoln Township 3.4 4.4 N/A
Benton Harbor Benton Harbor 7.4 3.3 4.0
St. Joseph St. Joseph 7.5 8.9 4.4
Benton Township Benton Township 16.6 9.6 10.5
Lincoln Township Lincoln Township 18.7 13.6 17.0
St. Joseph Twp St. Joseph Twp 11.9 3.6
Sodus Township Sodus Township 1.7 0.7 0.4
Royalton Township Royalton Township 4.4 3.1 2.1
  1. 1 Streetlight data includes Bainbridge Township
  2. 2 Streetlight zone includes both jurisdictions, as well as a portion of Lake Township
  3. 3 Streetlight data includes Pipestone Township

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Goodspeed, R., Yuan, M., Krusniak, A., Bills, T. (2021). Assessing the Value of New Big Data Sources for Transportation Planning: Benton Harbor, Michigan Case Study. In: Geertman, S.C.M., Pettit, C., Goodspeed, R., Staffans, A. (eds) Urban Informatics and Future Cities. The Urban Book Series. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-76059-5_8

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