Algorithm will improve urban transport

A Polish team of scientists has embarked on the path of examining the transport habits of people living in urban areas and the factors that influence their change. The research will result in the creation of an algorithm that will help decision-makers in their quest to transform cities so that urban transport runs as smoothly as possible.

What makes people choose public transport instead of a car? Why are electric scooters becoming so popular? Who decides on an electric car and why? These are some of the questions that will be analysed by the scientists from the Geoengineering Department of the University of Warmia and Mazury.

One of the representatives of the team of scientists, Professor Agnieszka Dawidowicz, underlined just how much the pandemic had changed people’s habits, saying “many of us have reduced travel, resigned from public transport or chosen other means of transport. We asked ourselves whether such a situation could have been foreseen, knowing about the impending threat.”

She stated that her team is also interested in how changes in transportation habits are influenced by technological development, such as sudden access to new innovative solutions.

“We want to automate the process of monitoring people's habits and the factors that influence them, and then develop an algorithm that will make it possible to predict traffic behaviour and facilitate the planning of road investments, the construction of car parks, the introduction of urban cycling networks or other transport solutions. We will know whether such an investment makes sense and to what extent it meets travellers' expectations,” she announced.

In her opinion, the algorithm will also provide answers to questions such as what is worth investing in and what solutions should be introduced to trigger specific behaviours. It will provide information on what to do and in what specific location to make people switch to public transport or change their car from petrol to electric.

The research will be conducted in six so-called urban functional areas. These are: Łomża, Suwałki, Elbląg, Włocławek, Gdańsk and Olsztyn.

People’s habits will be monitored with the help of multidimensional spatial analysis (GIS), including: the creation of thematic maps and survey research. Those surveyed will indicate on maps where they drive, from where, how often and with what.

The project is expected to be completed in mid-2024.

“Algorithm for monitoring the dynamics of traffic behaviour in urban functional areas in terms of innovation and risks” is being developed as part of a project funded by the National Science Centre.