Typically, when planners need to create models for rural areas, they would have to use data from nearby cities or other locations similar to their area or construct models based on data estimates (i.e., estimating the vehicles and movement of residents compared to visitors).

This presentation will look at multiple case studies and examine how cellular data allows less-populated areas to develop travel models based on actual, current, local data rather than purely synthetic models including:

- “Reconciliation of Regional Travel Model and Passive Device Tracking Data” by Leta F. Huntsinger, PhD, PE, and Rick Donnelly, PhD, AICP of the Parsons Brinckerhoff Systems Analysis Group. The results of this research show that the highway assignment using passively-collected data is comparable to the highway assignment using model-estimated trip tables. There were also differences in the data including the level of detail in both to (1) better understand flow patterns between traffic analysis zones and (2) creating behaviorally-based models.

- The South Alabama Regional Planning Commission (SARPC) built a travel-demand model to guide regional transportation construction planning in rural Alabama for the next 25 years. That model used traditional methods to capture traffic data, including pneumatic road tubes, a network of traffic counts and a limited HHTS. To validate their model, SARPC used passive data from more than 192,000 mobile devices over a one-month period, which covered 312 zones, and 670 total miles of roadway. They were able to capture 1.56 million total trips with an average of 67 locations per device, per day.

- The Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments updated a travel model for the tri-state area to accurately document current travel patterns and forecast transportation needs for the next 30 years, but was unable to use the traditional freeway survey to complete the study. Instead, they used data from over 2 million people on 1,300 miles of freeway, delivering almost 500x the number of trips previously collected. They completed their study in two months.

- In North Carolina, Moore County’s transportation planning did not have access to reliable information about traffic volumes and travelers on U.S. 1, from Aberdeen through Southern Pine. A household travel survey was expensive and inaccurate, with small sample sizes often representing as few as one out of every 100 households. This presentation will cover gathering 11.6 million trips representing one in six Moore County residents.