GPS Tracking Applications
Tracking applications allow users to share information generated by GPS in their mobile devices about the paths they use to travel. These data are an excellent source of planning information because they show paths really taken by users and can provide real time information about speeds or performance conditions. Many tracking applications allow users to add information to maps such as problems.
Waze is the most familiar tracking application. It tracks users to identify real time roadway traffic conditions and allows users to enter data (e.g., accident locations). Waze is combined with a travel planner that provides users on fastest routes given real time traffic conditions.
Tracking applications have also been developed for sustainable transport modes: public transport, biking and walking. Fitness applications are an especially good source of information on biking and walking.
Cities are increasingly using (buying) data from tracking applications developed by private companies. For example, many cities are working with Waze to obtain traffic data and with fitness application developers like Strada to obtain bicycling data. In some cases cities have developed partnership programs where they provide certain data to the developers and the developers provide data to the city in return.
Agencies planning to use tracking data need to consider:
- Data privacy?
- Should agencies buy data from commercial app developers or develop their own apps?
- Are application users typical (i.e. not competitive bike riders)?
- Should cities plan for typical app users?
The next sections outline tracking data applications for sustainable transport modes.
Examples: GPS Tracking Apps
Meine Radspur is an early example of using GPS tracking for bicycle planning.
Bicycle Tracking Apps
Bicycle tracking applications are one of the most popular types of GPS tracking applications. In addition to many privately developed fitness tracking applications many cities and researchers have created these applications individually. Given the large number of applications we’ve created a special page with example bicycle tracking data applications and references:
Public Transport Tracking Apps
Public transport is another field where many GPS tracking applications have been developed. In this case there seem to be more private-sector developed applications than in the case of bicycle GPS tracking applications. Here’s a link to our page with example public transport GPS tracking applications and references:
Pedestrian Tracking Apps
Interestingly, aside from pedestrian tracking that’s part of fitness applications there do not seem to be very many applications directly created to provide planning data from pedestrian trips. Probably I’ve missed some, but it could be a good market to explore.
References: GPS Tracking Apps
- Trace Project – The EU-supported TRACE project (2015-2018) will examine geo-based crowdsourcing applications for biking and walking.
- City planners tap into wealth of cycling data from Strava tracking app – Peter Walker, The Guardian Bike Blog, 9 May 2016.
Blog Posts: GPS Tracking Apps
The Transit App can now collect tracking data from users to help them predict real time arrival information. This is an excellent tool especially in cities where there is no current real time data available. It’s also quite helpful because it can be more accurate than vehicle GPS signals since these signals may only be sent […]
radwende.de is a really neat project from Wiesbaden Germany. They use a GPS tracking app to crowdsource bike trips and then turn the information into a beautiful map you can hang on the wall. Of course they use the data too to help determine where people ride in the city to help planners improve bike […]
The European Commission supported TRACE project will assess the potential of movement tracking services to better plan and promote walking and cycling in cities, and develop tracking tools that will fuel the take up of walking and cycling measures. The project started in June 2015 and runs until 2018. TRACE targets established measures to promote […]
Arlington Virginia’s Mobility Lab recently organised a “Radius Ride” from a high school to determine how far people could ride their bikes in 5, 10 and 15 minutes. This is designed to help people understand that things are closer by bike than they might think. Here’s the Mobility Lab’s post School Bicycling Safety in Alexandria, Virginia […]