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Study confirms mobile data aids transport planning

The study’s authors conclude that the potential of mobile network data can only be realised through the use of analysis tools

Meaningful insights were gleaned from the data on travel behaviour in the the city of Stuttgart
Meaningful insights were gleaned from the data on travel behaviour in the the city of Stuttgart

Mobile data can be used to test and supplement transport models in the short-term

The potential of mobile data can only be realised through the use of analytics tools

Data analytics specialist, Teralytics, has teamed up with Telefónica NEXT, part of Telefónica Deutschland, to prove that anonymised and aggregated mobile network data can be used to analyse and predict travel behaviour.


The independent study, conducted by the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering (IAO), found that meaningful insights about the travel behaviour of Stuttgart could be extrapolated. Mobile network data for the Stuttgarter Weindorf was analysed and showed a clear temporal shift in the flow of people into the inner city.


"We face major challenges regarding transport planning, especially in urban areas. When used right, digital solutions can provide an important contribution for everyone’s benefit,” said Florian Marquart, managing director of Telefónica NEXT, Advanced Data Analytics.


“We need to open the data treasure chest for this. We are very pleased that one of the leading research institutes has confirmed the potential of mobile network data. This gives us an important boost for further projects in the area of smart analysis of anonymous data."


For too long, transport planners have relied on manual recording in the form of surveys that are conducted every one to ten years and don’t provide comprehensive characteristics. The study shows supplementary, real-time data sources, such as anonymised mobile network data, are a much-needed and valuable addition.


Professor Anette Weisbecker, deputy institute director of the Fraunhofer IAO, explains that recording mobility behaviour in cities across modes of transport is a complex undertaking but that the study shows that mobile network data can make a positive contribution to transport planning.


“The data is available in high spatial and temporal resolution, and provides new insight into the factors influencing urban transport," she said.


For their research method, the Fraunhofer IAO first compared mobile network data against existing data acquisition methods, such as traveller surveys, automatic counting stations, or GPS data and interviewed 18 experts from companies, syndicates, research, and politics.


Then, the Fraunhofer IAO analysed the city of Stuttgart with Telefónica Germany anonymised data enabled by Teralytics technology.


Their conclusion was that mobile network data can be used to test and supplement current transport models in the short term. Further development of special algorithms and models like those offered by Teralytics will allow for better planning of mobility systems and new findings on passenger transport soon.


"The considerable potential of mobile network data can only be realised through the accompanying offer of corresponding analysis tools," summarised the authors Alexander Schmidt and Tobias Männel.


"We are very proud about this successful partnership and the benefits data can offer to city and transport planners. This is a great example of how mobility data can be used for human good," added Stefan Deml, VP product, Teralytics.


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