App: Travel and Activity Recapper

Principal Investigator(s):

Yingling Fan, Professor, Humphrey School of Public Affairs


Project summary:

This project aims to develop a new, ready-to-deploy app named "Travel and Activity Recapper" (referred as Recapper thereafter). The targeted users of Recapper will be the MPOs in the U.S.--the government agencies that are responsible for conducting regional travel behavior surveys every 7-10 years. The MPOs have applied the traditional, paper-based diary approach to collecting travel behavior data. With recent advances in global positioning systems (GPS) technology, some MPOs have tested the use of GPS units to record travel details in their travel behavior survey efforts. The first GPS-enhanced, household travel survey was conducted in Austin, Texas, in 1997. More recent efforts applying the GPS-enabled approach include the 2009 Indianapolis household travel survey, the 2009/2010 household travel survey in Cincinnati, the 2010/2011 Travel Behavior Inventory survey in the Minneapolis-St. Paul region, etc. These MPOs typically recruit a small subsample of participants (ranging from 200-300 participants) and ask these participants to carry GPS units for a week. The research community has evaluated this GPS-enabled approach regarding its potential to replace the traditional diary approach. The consensus is that GPS should continue to be used alongside rather than in lieu of the traditional diary approach. To date, none of the MPOs has implemented any smartphone-enhanced household travel survey efforts. This Recapper project is to demonstrate the advantages of smartphone-enhanced data collection approach when compared to the traditional diary approach and the more recent, GPS-enhanced approach. Specially, this project will be built upon a smartphone technology named SmarTrAC that was recently developed by the principal investigator (PI) and co-PIs. The SmarTrAC technology brings together automatic sensing, data mining, and surveying in a hybrid and seamless manner.

Project details: