Logo: University of Southern California

IMSC Co-Recipient of MTA Grant to Collect and Analyze Traffic Data from L.A. Agencies

$1.8 million award will fund development of IT applications in regional planning, traffic management, system performance and policy analysis.  

October 04, 2010 —

Researchers at the USC METRANS Transportation Center and the USC Integrated Media Systems Center (IMSC) have received a three-year, $1.8 million grant from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority [MTA] to create an integrated data system that ultimately

Cyrus Shahabi
could improve traffic flows in and around Los Angeles.

The work will include development of applications in regional planning, traffic management, system performance and policy analysis. 

In addition, the system will allow archiving and analysis of the approximately 10 gigabytes of data collected daily by various agencies.  These data are currently discarded each day, and have never before been stored for research and evaluation, said Genevieve Giuliano, Director of METRANS and a professor at the USC School of Policy, Planning and Development (SPPD).

Added Lisa Schweitzer, associate professor in SPPD, "Metro and several other agencies daily collect and transmit data on traffic throughout the region.  Among other things, such data feeds allow the MTA to remotely follow individual busses, CalTrans to update electronic traffic signs on our freeways, and the City of Los Angeles to automatically adjust traffic light patterns to deal with emerging problems,” said Schweitzer.  “But we know that integrating these data sets could make traffic management even better."

Cyrus Shahabi, director of IMSC and professor of computer science at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, along with a team of researchers at IMSC will design and develop the data archive.  Shahabi, who has extensive experience with dynamic and large scale databases, said:

“We have a rich inventory of well-developed research innovations for managing such large-scale, heterogeneous and real-time data. This is a unique opportunity for us to apply our innovations to real data for real applications with a great potential to improve quality of life for millions of travelers.”

Shahabi and Giuliano said the project could spur cost-savings, greater efficiencies, more productive public sharing of transportation information, and ultimately a more sustainable transportation system.

The METRANS Transportation Center is a U.S. Department of Transportation University Transportation Center (UTC). Established in 1998 through the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21). METRANS is a joint partnership of the University of Southern California and California State University, Long Beach.

The Integrated Media Systems Center (IMSC) is a National Science Foundation (NSF) Engineering Research Center (ERC) at USC, established in 1996. As a graduated NSF center, and under the leadership of Shahabi, IMSC is now focusing on Geo-Immersion, a new computing paradigm that blends the real world with the virtual world.

Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is unique among the nation's transportation agencies. It serves as transportation planner and coordinator, designer, builder, and operator for one of the country's largest, most populous counties.