Open source software and “model-free” active travel tools in t


June 01, 2022

Dustin Carlino will host the open source session at Modeling World

Dustin Carlino will host the open source session at Modeling World

Changes in societal and travel trends, and the push to decarbonize transport and development – ​​along with new techniques and tools to help us understand, manage and model these changes – will be the main challenges of Modeling World 2022.

Also on the agenda for this year’s event – taking place June 8-9 – will be the pros and cons of using open source software in transport modeling and a deep dive into the tools “unmodeled” active travel plans based on the data.

Tom van Vuren, Chairman of Modeling World, Regional Director for UK and Europe at Veitch Lister Consulting (VLC) and Visiting Professor at the University of Leeds, said: “My colleague from the University of Leeds, Robin Lovelace, wrote something that struck a chord in a recent article.

“He said, “Many traditional transportation planning tools focus on motorized traffic, often at low levels of geographic resolution. 21st century transport planning tools need to address very different questions, such as: What are the barriers preventing people from switching to more sustainable modes of transport, and where are these barriers located?

“How are transport behaviors likely to change in the future, in response to technological developments, including autonomous vehicles and the continued rise of online working? And how can citizens be involved in decisions tools that can help answer these questions are becoming an increasingly important part of the transportation planner’s cabinet” (Open Source Tools for Geographic Analysis in Transportation Planning:”

Tom van Vuren says: “I recommend you read it. Robin’s work points us as modelers towards a more open approach to data and models: observe and understand before trying to simplify in mathematics and allow modeling to be more than the application of commercial software packages. »

Robin Lovelace’s point was echoed by van Vuren’s VLC colleague Ali Inayathusein. He explains, “The advantage of open source is that you can build on the work of others, saving time and effort compared to developing from scratch. You can customize to your needs, often without restriction and give back to the wider community allowing bright minds across organizations and geographic boundaries to collaborate to produce creative solutions.

The open source session will be led by Dustin Carlino, associate researcher at the Alan Turing Institute and cartographer at A/B Street. A former software engineer at Google, Carlino works to make transportation planning tools more widely available. Tom van Vuren will lead the session on data-driven tools.

The open source community makes big promises, with people building software and then releasing the source code for free, van Vuren noted. Anyone who wants to improve or modify can do so, he says, referring to open source success stories such as Linux, WordPress, Blender and Firefox. In the world of transport modeling, there have been SUMO, MATSim, A/B Street, AequilibraE and Streetmix are some examples, as well as travel demand models like NorMITs, Soundcast and ActivitySim.

Building environmentally sustainable transport systems is “an urgent and monumental task”, and one that needs to happen all over the world, says van Vuren. For cities that don’t have the resources to license commercial software and invest in training their employees to use it, how open source software and data can help – and what pitfalls do they need to avoid? beware, he asks.

“I have been interested in the real opportunities of open source software solutions for some time. They have become more robust over time, in part because of what Ali observes.

Practitioners should be able to decide for themselves if and when data-driven tools, rather than mathematical models, are more appropriate for providing evidence, van Vuren says. It’s also up to them to see if “open source solutions can lead the way in reflecting some of the fads and some of the challenges less well covered by our traditional approaches and tools.”

The two new sessions at Modeling World on June 8 should provide plenty of opportunities to explore and learn, van Vuren said.


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