Crowdsourcing Pedestrian and Cyclist Activity Data

December 06, 2016 by Amy Smith

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This paper considers how crowdsourcing applications and crowdsourced data are currently being applied, as well as potential new uses for active transportation research and planning efforts of various types. The objectives of this white paper are to review existing crowdsourced bicycle and pedestrian data resources and crowdsourcing tools; discuss potential planning implementations of crowdsourced data for a sample of bicycle and pedestrian project types; and provide examples of how crowdsourcing is currently being used to inform decision-making. Potential issues related to crowdsourced data are also considered (e.g., quality, privacy concerns, participation rates, bias). The research presented here highlights a decreasing skepticism over the quality of volunteered, user-generated data provided by amateurs (as opposed to professionals) in light of a desire to open the lines of communication between the planning world and those affected by planning decisions, directly addressing (rather than being discouraged by) data limitations. The initiatives surrounding progressive data collection, management, and analysis are further reflected in the numerous conferences, meetups, and other events fostering collaboration between planners, developers, data scientists and others interested in applying critical thought and innovation in planning. While this paper reviews existing crowdsourcing techniques and their current applications in planning, the pace of technological change and rate of adoption in planning indicates that planners will continue to develop and apply innovative approaches like crowdsourcing in response to continually changing community needs. This paper focuses on examples of current uses of crowdsourced data, crowdsourcing data suggestions, and data considerations.