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Combining taxi GPS data and open-source software for evidence-based traffic management and planning

15 Sep 2015

Traffic congestion has a substantial impact on both the quality of life and economic opportunities available to the lowest income segments of society. Further, congestion exacerbates pollution and GHG emissions and has a known, substantial negative impact on urban GDP growth. Resource-constrained traffic management agencies are challenged to mitigate congestion, when they do not have access to the sophisticated tools commonly used in advanced economies for monitoring real-time traffic conditions and for collecting and analyzing historic travel time data.

Starting in 2011, the project team worked with the Cebu City Government to develop an open-source platform for collecting, visualizing, and analyzing traffic speed data derived from taxi drivers’ smartphones. This pilot project successfully achieved a proof of concept and the platform, Cebu Traffic, won first prize in the 2013 Philippines National E-Governance Competition. With this success, the project team then sought to use these proven methodologies to support the development of a replicable, inexpensive alternative to traditional travel time and congestion data collection and analysis. The goal of this alternative approach would be to empower resource-constrained agencies to make better, evidence-based decisions that previously had been out of reach – decisions about traffic signal timing plans, public transit provision, roadway infrastructure needs, emergency traffic management, and travel demand management.

To this end, the team partnered with GrabTaxi, an on-demand taxi service that generates taxi GPS data in countries the Bank supports, as well as Conveyal, an open-source transport software development firm. With these partnerships and support from the World Bank’s Big Data Challenge Innovation Grant of US$65,000, the team improved upon the initial pilot platform, tested it with data from six countries, and deployed the platform in Cebu City for live testing. This Project Completion Report covers activities completed under the grant implementation period, which was six months (January to June 2015). The report conclusion presents follow up activities undertaken since this period, as well as planned next steps.

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