Dynamic Travel Information – Personalized and Delivered to Your Cell Phone

(Center Identification Number: 77804)

Building on information already collected for managing traffic and transit, this project proposes to expand the capabilities of the Path Prediction prototype to deliver personalized, route-pertinent incident information gathered by ATIS, including 511-based systems, to mobile phones. As part of this project, the Path Prediction algorithm will be enhanced, implemented, and tested in a real-world environment using actual GPS-enabled mobile phones and, if available, real-time data sources.

Principal Investigators:

Nevine Labib Georggi, Senior Research Associate
Phone: 813-974-9770
E-mail: georggi@cutr.usf.edu

Sean Barbeau, Senior Research Associate
Phone: 813-974-7208
E-mail: barbeau@cutr.usf.edu

Phil Winters,TDM Program Director
Phone: 813-974-9811
E-mail: winters@cutr.usf.edu


Center for Urban Transportation Research
University of South Florida
Fax: 813-974-5168

External Project Contact:     

Amy Datz
State Transit Environmental Planner
(850) 414-4239
Email: amy.datz@dot.state.fl.us

Advanced Traveler Information Systems (ATIS) communicate essential information about travel conditions to the public.  ATIS devices include variable message signs, 511 telephone systems, highway advisory radio, and websites that collect, process, and disseminate information.  Some state-of-the-art ATIS services deliver emails or text messages with traffic conditions to mobile devices upon subscription by user.  These alerts are disseminated to static subscription lists not filtered based on the user’s travel history or real-time location.  As a result, the user will receive many irrelevant mass alerts that are not relevant to their current location or immediate intended travel.  It is likely that some users would be overwhelmed when their mobile devices are inundated by irrelevant travel information alerts and may eventually opt-out of subscription.

This proposal seeks to advance the state-of-the-art in ATIS by providing directed, personalized dynamic information to a traveler’s mobile device based on its exact location determined by Global Positioning Systems (GPS).  The timeliness of this project is only heightened by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) of January 14, 2009 (23 CFR Part 511) that proposes minimum parameters and requirements for States to make available and share traffic and travel conditions information via real-time information programs.  It states that,

“Real-time information programs are proposed to be established so that States easily can exchange information on the real-time operational status of the transportation network with other States and with the private sector, value-added information market. This cooperation and sharing of information could stimulate the dissemination of traffic and travel conditions that include Web or wireless access to route-specific travel time and toll information; route planning assistance using historical records of congestion by time of day; and communications technologies that gather traffic and incident-related data from a sample of vehicles traveling on a roadway and then publishing that information to travelers via mobile phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), in-car units, or dynamic message signs.” 

A research study funded by the FDOT through the NCTR pioneered a travel behavior survey tool, referred to as TRAC-IT, which is software that can be installed on GPS-enabled mobile phones. Several components of TRAC-IT, including location-aware information system architecture and a Path Prediction prototype, can be employed to create an application that provides highly directed, real-time traffic alerts via mobile devices to the public.  As part of the initial TRAC-IT project, a Path Prediction algorithm was developed and tested in a lab environment and successfully simulated the delivery of personalized real-time alerts to travelers based on their real-time GPS location and a set of sample traffic incident data. The algorithm is able to predict each user’s intended route and destination based on the user’s own historical travel data collected using the TRAC-IT mobile phone application, thereby reducing the number of irrelevant alerts provided to the user.


II.  Objectives/Tasks

Building on information already collected for managing traffic and transit, this project proposes to expand the capabilities of the Path Prediction prototype to deliver personalized, route-pertinent incident information gathered by ATIS, including 511-based systems, to mobile phones.  As part of this project, the Path Prediction algorithm will be enhanced, implemented, and tested in a real-world environment using actual GPS-enabled mobile phones and, if available, real-time data sources.  After the user’s path is predicted, the algorithm can pinpoint incidents on and around the traveler’s route based on data from the 511 system and advise the user on detours or imminent delays as necessary.

Work not included in this scope of service is not to be performed and will not be subject to compensation by the Department.

Task 1:  Project Management

Before any work begins, the research team will hold a kickoff meeting with the project team and the FDOT project manager. Researchers will advise the staff of the FDOT Research Center of meeting date and time and given the option to attend the meeting. The subject of the meeting will be to review and discuss the project’s tasks, schedule, milestones, deliverables, reporting requirements, and FDOT research deployment plan. This kickoff meeting will be conducted via teleconference or net conference. This task also will include on-going project management activities such as preparing progress reports and invoices, and reviewing and editing final deliverables.

Task 2:  Conduct Literature Review and Identify Potential Data Sources

Collect and review ITS architecture for traveler information applications for all modes at the state and the metropolitan areas of Miami-Dade, Orlando, and Tampa Bay, APTA’s comprehensive Transit Communications Interface Profiles (TCIP) standards for mobile messaging, and other sources. This information will be used to develop a list of potential travel information services that can be personalized and timely-delivered to cell phones.

Identify current and planned real-time and archived travel information data source(s) in State of Florida, including sources used by 511 and local government traffic management centers.

Task 3: Modify TAD System to Facilitate System Updates and Deployment

  1. Based on Task 2, prepare criteria and anticipated tasks for project partner(s) who will give access to live real-time travel data and/or archived data that defines Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), etc. necessary for integration with TRAC-IT system
  2. Acknowledging the complicated process of obtaining a partnering community within the three months allocated to this task, we foresee the importance of FDOT in a leadership role in help securing the cooperation of a potential partnering community (e.g., 511 provider and local transit system in the same community).  A stipend of $1,000 has been set aside to offset some of the time commitment likely incurred by the partner. 
  3. Create Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will define required relationship between project team and partners 
  4.  Execute MOU with partner(s) and gain access to real-time travel data source(s)

Task 4: Develop Initial System Architecture of the Prototype for Selected Urban Area(s)

  • Use the list of potential services, data sources and the partner identified in Task 3 to determine the dynamic information services to be developed under this project
  • Examine partner’s system to determine available data and functions, compliance with standards, definitions of inputs and outputs, levels of access, APIs, database table structures, timeliness of data updates, etc. related to accessing and processing real-time data for the cell phone
  • Develop initial prototype system architecture based on the partner’s system to link the service to be provided and the data sources available. The system architecture represents the conceptual design that defines the structure and behavior of a system, including the mapping of functionality onto hardware and software components.

Use the system architecture to prepare requirements and specifications for the system components for use by programming team.

Task 5:  Develop prototype system software for the identified information services

  • Acquire mobile phones and service that will support the TRAC-IT software client for GPS-enabled mobile phones
  • Based on the information services identified in Task 4, develop and test software in support of these services (e.g., enhance the path prediction algorithm developed under TRAC-IT Phase 2 to take into account travel times of prior trips for issuing timely pre-trip alerts)
  • Develop software, including communication protocols, to establish connection with real-time travel data sources identified in Task 4.
  • Proceed with iterative development, test, and refining process for software on server and cell phone
  • Conduct proof of concept field test for prototype with project team members

Task 6:  Final Report

Prepare draft final report and final report in accordance with FDOT requirements shown below.

Project Team

Nevine Georggi – PI.  The PI will be responsible for project management, assisting with recruiting transit agencies, drafting MOU agreements, coordinating efforts with IRB, progress reporting, and producing final report.  

Sean Barbeau – Co-PI.  Contributes to system design and oversees programming re: software development on phone,  application server, Google, transit agencies, etc. Students report to him.

Phil Winters – Co-PI Assist with recruiting transit agencies, 511 providers, and forging partnership agreements while identifying overall system needs.  

Miguel Labrador – addressing compliance issues for APTA’s TCIP standard, recruit students, and provide expertise on network-related issues

Joel Volinski – reviewer of all deliverables (focus on content clarity)

Jennifer Iley – program assistant for researchers. Assists in the production of deliverables.

Students – under direction of Sean and Miguel, program software for phones and servers, connect to transit agency data, and test features of TAD for each deployment site

Rafael Perez – technical reviewer of all deliverables (knowledge of computer science and engineering that Joel doesn’t have)

III. Deliverables

Progress Reports   The university will submit quarterly progress reports to the Research Center.  The first report will cover the activity that occurred in the 90 days following the issuance of the Task Work Order. 

Reports will be submitted within 30 days of the end of the reporting period.  Reports are due even if little or no progress has occurred (in which case, the report should explain delays and/or lack of progress).  Progress reports will be sent in MS Word to Sandra Bell, sandra.bell@dot.state.fl.us .

Progress reports will include the following information:

1.      Contract Number, Task Work Order Number, and Title

2.      Work performed during the period being reported

3.      Work to be performed in the following period

4.      Anticipated modifications (i.e., to funding, schedule, or scope).  This section is for reporting/informational purposes, not for officially requesting an amendment.
   Note:  To request an amendment to a contract, the contractor must provide the
   project manager with the appropriate information (i.e., what is being requested       with justification) in the required format.  If the project manager concurs with the          request, he/she shall forward it with his/her approval and commentary, as         appropriate, to the Research Center for administrative review and processing    (pending available funds, etc.)

5.      A Progress Schedule (figures A, B, and C) updated to reflect activities for the period being reported.

 Draft Final Reports   The draft final report will be submitted to Sandra Bell, sandra.bell@dot.state.fl.us.  It will be edited for technical accuracy, grammar, clarity, organization, and format prior to submission to the Department for technical approval.  The Research Center expects contractors to be able to provide well-written, high-quality reports that address the objectives defined by the scope of service.   

Final Reports   The project manager will review the final report to insure that all issues identified for correction in the draft final report have been addressed.  Once the draft final report has been approved, the university shall prepare the final report.  The university will deliver a minimum eight (8) copies of the final report in MS Word on CD and one (1) unbound double-sided hard copy original, no later than the end date of the task work order, to 

The Florida Department of Transportation

Research Center, MS 30

605 Suwannee Street

Tallahassee, FL 32399-0450

IV.  Project Schedule

Start Date: April 2009              Expected End Date: December 2010

V.  Project Budget

Salaries and Fringe                                        126,938.63

Fixed Price Sub Total                                      126,938.63

Indirect Cost (fixed price subtotal x 10%)      12,693.86

Total Fixed Price Amount                              139,632.50

Total Lump Sum Amount (Salaries and Benefits)               139,632.50

Expenses (Cost Reimbursable)                                                   9,425.00

Cost Reimbursable (Subtotal)                                                      9,425.00

Indirect Costs (cost reimbursable subtotal x 10%)                      942.50 

Total Project Cost                                                                           150,000.00    

VI.  Use of Graduate Student(s) and Other Research Assistants

The proposed budget includes funds for an undergraduate student(s) and/or graduate student(s) to assist with all project tasks.

VII.  Equipment

Four mobile phones will be purchased for this project (cost per phone is approximately $200).  These phones do not fall under capital equipment because the value is less than $1,000.  To match USF chart of accounts, these phones are shown as “Service: Laboratory & Research” on the budget below. The service plan costs approximately $50 per phone per month with the development and testing period estimated to extend at least 6 months.  To match USF chart of accounts, the service plan is shown as “Utilities”

In order to support predictive capabilities to estimate where and when a person may be traveling, a one-time perpetual license for SQL Server 2008 Enterprise Edition database software will be purchased.  SQL Server 2008 Enterprise Edition database software provides new capabilities in the area of spatial queries and data mining not present in previous versions that will help support additional intelligence in location-aware mobile information systems.  This software will run on a development server that the project team will use to develop and test new types of traveler information services. The estimated cost is $4725.

Reimbursement will only occur upon receipt of and only for the amount of the purchasing invoice for the subject equipment. The university, upon receipt of any purchased equipment, shall forward to the Research Center a copy of the purchase invoice/property description as detailed in Exhibit C – Budget/serial number and receipt.  The Department will prepare and forward inventory control label(s), which the university shall have affixed to the property.

VIII.  Travel

The travel line item is for mileage reimbursement for personal vehicle use and/or vehicle rental costs for traveling to selected partner communities in Florida.  Whenever practical, we will substitute conference call but some onsite trips may be required.  In addition, travel line item includes mileage reimbursement for personal vehicle use needed for testing the prototype in the field. All travel is to be approved in advance in writing by the FDOT’s Project Manager.  The approval should include the method of travel (personal owned vehicles, rental car) hotel cost, per diem, etc. for each person traveling.  A copy of the request and approval shall be provided to the Research Center and become a part of the official file.  All travel shall be in accordance with Section 112.061, Florida Statutes. FDOT employees may not travel on research contracts.

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