Social Media

Social Media in Transportation: Best Practices for Government Agencies

Collaboration with Susan Bregman
Published by Taylor and Francis / CRC Press


This book will identify the specific opportunities and challenges for government transportation agencies using social media.  For transportation agencies, social media provides an unparalleled opportunity to provide real-time status updates for highways, airports, and transit services. However, government organizations also face unique challenges, including limited staff resources, regulatory requirements for record-keeping and transparency, and the need to provide information in formats accessible to people with disabilities. The book will incorporate information about all modes of transportation, including mass transit, highways, airports, ferries, car- and bicycle-sharing, and walking. This book will use real-life examples from government practitioners, academic researchers, advocacy organizations, and industry experts to help other organizations move forward with social media.

Facebook and Destination Choice Modeling

Collaboration with IRG student Tom Wall and Garrow Lab student Brittany Luken
Sponsored by Airport Cooperative Research Program

As of March 2012, membership in Facebook – the predominant online social networking site – had reached 901 million “monthly active users,” whose profiles typically include general demographic, educational, and geographic information. This information is then shared with other users in their social network to create an online model of relationships and connections.  Although researchers have begun to investigate the link between social networks and travel , this has not been done at a national level, nor with the use of online social network data.   We hypothesize that there is a link between an individuals’ propensity for long-distance travel and the size and distribution of their online social network. Our research objective is to investigate the influence of this link on destination choice in air travel, and then to characterize that relationship in terms of online social network size and distribution. We are developing a web-based survey tool to collect individual travel and social network information – focusing on Facebook users. A survey component will collect a diary of long-distance trips taken in the previous year, and a data-mining tool will anonymously collect demographic and geographic information from the participant’s Facebook user profile and connections list. We will then incorporate the data collected into basic destination choice models to examine the effects of online social network data on destination choice, and statistically analyze the data to determine their significance in improving model accuracy.

Technology Scan of Future Traveler Information Systems and Applications to Georgia

Collaboration with UTIL students Maria Roell and James Wong
Sponsored by the Georgia Transportation Institute and the Georgia Department of Transportation


This research examines the existing traveler information sources in Georgia and identifies improvements in sensing technology, interagency communication, and developer, business and customer outreach to improve inexpensive access to information and information exchange.  This investigation is being done from the perspective of the new applications for travel information exchange that are now available through wireless communications technologies, and those likely to be available in the near future.  We anticipate two major outcomes from this project.  First, the research will provide an understanding of possible future directions in traveler information systems; and second, the research will identify traveler information strategies that GDOT might consider as part of its ITS program in the state.

Open Data

Collaboration with UTIL students Landon Reed and James Wong

In addition to our formal projects, our lab has been working with local agencies to explore the potential benefits of open transit data for the Atlanta region.  Both transit agencies and their riders benefit from the public release of standardized datasets around which software developers can create robust and innovative applications.  

UTIL students researched the best practices in open transit data through a set of case studies and presented their results to decision makers in a series of committee meetings at the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), including the Regional Transit Committee, Transportation Coordinating Committee, and Transit Operators Subcommittee.

Information Services in Social Networked Transportation

Collaboration with Dr. Hans Klein and UTIL students James Wong and Landon Reed
Sponsored by the National Center for Transportation Productivity and Management and the Georgia Department of Transportation

Traditionally, transportation is understood as the physical displacement of people, goods, and vehicles. Information technology is often used to model the system or to optimize the system. Here, however, we see information as the essence of the system. In the social networked paradigm we reconceptualize transportation as an information ecosystem in an institutional landscape.  This project will analyze information flows and institutions in surface transportation in order to promote new information services. It attempts to illuminate the evolving role of state DOTs as transportation becomes more information intensive.