TRAFFIC STUDY: North Carolina study uses cell phone data to track traffic flow

County officials plan to use data to anticipate future transportation improvement projects

August 02, 2013

Officials in Moore County, N.C., heard a presentation last week on a traffic study that used cell phone data to track vehicle movement, with the hope that such data could be used to plan future transportation improvements.


The study was conducted from Sept. 20-Oct. 18, 2012, by Atlanta-based AirSage. During that time, the company recorded nearly 11.6 million trips from more than 3 million unique mobile devices. AirSage confirmed that no personal information that could identify individual drivers was collected during the study; signal data from cell phone towers was used to determine the point of origin and destination for a trip. This method also allowed researchers to differentiate between resident and non-residents. AirSage cautioned that the data does not measure actual traffic volume, but more of a general flow.

Moore County officials will use the data to create a travel demand model for evaluating current traffic patterns and predicting future patterns. From there, they will be able to identify and prioritize improvement needs throughout the county, such as a potential bypass for U.S. 1.