I Know I'm Right, But Does My Phone?

Gabriel Kosmacher, K. Shankari

Research output: NRELPoster


Transportation is the largest source of green-house gas emissions in the United States. Reducing transportation emissions depends on human travel behavior, which relies on local land use and planning. Travel diaries, consisting of sequences of trips between places for a particular individual, 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 GPS tracking surveys. Mode inference algorithms in particular have been well represented in literature. However, these algorithms have typically been validated using prompted recall of pre-segmented trips, which doesn't account for segmentation error, thus disregarding the continuity of mode inference. Furthermore, phone operating systems and applications have adopted battery-conserving techniques, but we are not aware of prior work that has characterized the resulting data collection errors or evaluated procedures to mitigate them. We introduce a framework to evaluate accuracy of trip length computations and mode inference. We develop a temporal alignment procedure in analyzing continuous mode-segmented trajectories for groups of trips. We then apply our framework to evaluate an example set of travel diary algorithms from the open-source OpenPATH travel diary platform against MobilityNet, a public dataset containing information from three artificial timelines that cover 15 different travel modes. Our results show that inference based on an integration with map features results in weighted F_1 scores of 0.60 (iOS) and 0.74 (android). We also show that OpenPATH tends to under count trip length, with mean of signed relative error of -0.0438 on android and -0.0704 on iOS. We hope that other travel diary algorithms will be evaluated using this standardized process, and that the results used to understand and improve the state-of-the-art in this field.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 2023

Publication series

NamePresented at the Transportation Research Board (TRB) 102nd Annual Meeting, 8-12 January 2023, Washington, D.C.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PO-5400-84966


  • machine learning
  • mobility
  • OpenPATH
  • travel diary


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