Evaluating the Interplay Between Trajectory Segmentation and Mode Inference Error

Gabriel Kosmacher, K. Shankari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Travel behavior changes are essential to transportation decarbonization. Travel diaries, consisting of sequences of trips between places, are typically used to instrument human travel behavior. However, these diaries are only as accurate as the underlying methods used to construct them. Travel diary algorithms have been a popular research topic since the advent of Global Positioning System tracking surveys. These algorithms have typically been validated using prompted recall of presegmented trips, thus disregarding the continuity of mode inference. Phone operating systems have adopted battery-conserving techniques, but the resulting data collection errors have not been studied extensively. We introduce a framework to evaluate the accuracy of trip length computations and mode inference by analyzing continuous mode-segmented trajectories for groups of trips. We then use the framework to identify the input data quality and the impact of postprocessing. Our primary inputs to this evaluation are MobilityNet, a public dataset containing information from three artificial timelines covering 15 different travel modes, and sample open-source travel diary creation algorithms from the OpenPATH project. Our framework concretely shows that the variance of the distance error drops from (0.217, 0.0848) to (0.011, 0.0407) after postprocessing. Similarly, the weighted F-scores for mode inference increase from (0.25, 0.29) to (0.60, 0.74) between random forest and geographic information system-based models. We hope that this standardized method will be adapted to evaluate other, potentially proprietary, travel diary algorithms. The results can be used to understand and improve the state of the art in the travel diary creation field.
Original languageAmerican English
JournalTransportation Research Record
StatePublished - 2023

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5400-84928


  • machine learning
  • mobility
  • OpenPATH
  • travel diary


Dive into the research topics of 'Evaluating the Interplay Between Trajectory Segmentation and Mode Inference Error'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this