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Understanding congested travel in urban areas

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      Abstract

      Rapid urbanization and increasing demand for transportation burdens urban road infrastructures. The interplay of number of vehicles and available road capacity on their routes determines the level of congestion. Although approaches to modify demand and capacity exist, the possible limits of congestion alleviation by only modifying route choices have not been systematically studied. Here we couple the road networks of five diverse cities with the travel demand profiles in the morning peak hour obtained from billions of mobile phone traces to comprehensively analyse urban traffic. We present that a dimensionless ratio of the road supply to the travel demand explains the percentage of time lost in congestion. Finally, we examine congestion relief under a centralized routing scheme with varying levels of awareness of social good and quantify the benefits to show that moderate levels are enough to achieve significant collective travel time savings.

      Abstract

      Rapid urbanization burdens urban road infrastructures, but understanding the interplay of road infrastructure and travel patterns is a complex challenge. Here, authors use mobile phone traces during morning peak hours to evaluate the effect of a congestion relief approach under a centralized routing scheme.

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      Most cited references 40

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      Understanding individual human mobility patterns

      Despite their importance for urban planning, traffic forecasting, and the spread of biological and mobile viruses, our understanding of the basic laws governing human motion remains limited thanks to the lack of tools to monitor the time resolved location of individuals. Here we study the trajectory of 100,000 anonymized mobile phone users whose position is tracked for a six month period. We find that in contrast with the random trajectories predicted by the prevailing Levy flight and random walk models, human trajectories show a high degree of temporal and spatial regularity, each individual being characterized by a time independent characteristic length scale and a significant probability to return to a few highly frequented locations. After correcting for differences in travel distances and the inherent anisotropy of each trajectory, the individual travel patterns collapse into a single spatial probability distribution, indicating that despite the diversity of their travel history, humans follow simple reproducible patterns. This inherent similarity in travel patterns could impact all phenomena driven by human mobility, from epidemic prevention to emergency response, urban planning and agent based modeling.
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        Limits of predictability in human mobility.

        A range of applications, from predicting the spread of human and electronic viruses to city planning and resource management in mobile communications, depend on our ability to foresee the whereabouts and mobility of individuals, raising a fundamental question: To what degree is human behavior predictable? Here we explore the limits of predictability in human dynamics by studying the mobility patterns of anonymized mobile phone users. By measuring the entropy of each individual's trajectory, we find a 93% potential predictability in user mobility across the whole user base. Despite the significant differences in the travel patterns, we find a remarkable lack of variability in predictability, which is largely independent of the distance users cover on a regular basis.
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          The scaling laws of human travel

          The dynamic spatial redistribution of individuals is a key driving force of various spatiotemporal phenomena on geographical scales. It can synchronise populations of interacting species, stabilise them, and diversify gene pools [1-3]. Human travelling, e.g. is responsible for the geographical spread of human infectious disease [4-9]. In the light of increasing international trade, intensified human mobility and an imminent influenza A epidemic [10] the knowledge of dynamical and statistical properties of human travel is thus of fundamental importance. Despite its crucial role, a quantitative assessment of these properties on geographical scales remains elusive and the assumption that humans disperse diffusively still prevails in models. Here we report on a solid and quantitative assessment of human travelling statistics by analysing the circulation of bank notes in the United States. Based on a comprehensive dataset of over a million individual displacements we find that dispersal is anomalous in two ways. First, the distribution of travelling distances decays as a power law, indicating that trajectories of bank notes are reminiscent of scale free random walks known as Levy flights. Secondly, the probability of remaining in a small, spatially confined region for a time T is dominated by algebraically long tails which attenuate the superdiffusive spread. We show that human travelling behaviour can be described mathematically on many spatiotemporal scales by a two parameter continuous time random walk model to a surprising accuracy and conclude that human travel on geographical scales is an ambivalent effectively superdiffusive process.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, MIT , Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA
            [2 ]School of Computer Science, University of Birmingham , Edgbaston B15 2TT, UK
            [3 ]Engineering Systems Division, MIT , Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA
            Author notes
            Journal
            Nat Commun
            Nat Commun
            Nature Communications
            Nature Publishing Group
            2041-1723
            15 March 2016
            2016
            : 7
            26978719 4796288 ncomms10793 10.1038/ncomms10793
            Copyright © 2016, Nature Publishing Group, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited. All Rights Reserved.

            This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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