Chapter 5. Monitoring Traffic in Singapore Using Telco Data

Editor’s Note: At Strata + Hadoop World in Singapore, in December 2015, Thomas Holleczek (Data Scientist at Singtel) outlined this case study to illustrate how telecommunications companies are using location data to develop a system for subway and expressway traffic monitoring.

People take a lot of factors into consideration when they travel on mass transit or a highway. They don’t always take the shortest route. Perhaps they want a less-crowded bus or subway, they want to take a scenic route, or they don’t want to have to change buses or subways more than once.

At Singtel, we found that we could use telco location data to understand how people travel on transportation networks. We studied the Singapore transportation system using data from Singtel.

Understanding the Data

Singtel maintains a location-based system. Every time you use your cell phone in Singapore, the location gets recorded. This happens in both active and passive events. An active event is when you text someone. Both your and your correspondent’s locations are recorded. The location in this case would be the cell towers to which the phones are connected. This happens in real time, and the data streams into the system through Kafka. The data is anonymized, but because the ID of the phone is constant, we can follow a person over time, and learn about the behavior of people.

The Singapore transportation system generates about 200 million ...

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