Tallahassee, Florida Focuses On Urban Mobility

Urban mobility researchers at Florida State University (FSU) have formed a unique collaboration with the government and citizens of the City of Tallahassee, Florida. Relying primarily on the feedback of residents, they are examining how people are currently utilizing the existing public transportation systems. They collect data from various sources, such as social media and surveys, to gain a unified view of the current situation, with the aim of improving problem areas in city-wide mobility.

Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Reza Arghandeh of FSU stated, “We are starting with using case studies to see where we are and what the current status of mobility is in Tallahassee. From this big picture, we will focus on specific neighborhoods in order to collect data from the site and then implement our algorithms, as we are taking a mathematical approach.  The end goal will be the implementation of our model.”

Tallahassee is participating in The Global City Teams Challenge (GCTC) – a collaborative network of project teams, or “action clusters,” working on innovative applications of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies within a smart community. GCTC, designed and run by NIST and US Ignite, promotes the  integration of government, academic, and resident knowledge and feedback in order to transform and improve the city’s overall environment.

Michael Ohlsen with City of Tallahassee Utilities and Director of Environment Services and Facilities Director John Powell are looking at how they can better serve the community when they are faced with power outages, traffic jams, or other mobility problems.

“The City of Tallahassee has a very good infrastructure for data collection.  We are in close collaboration with Florida’s Department of Transportation, the City of Tallahassee Utilities, and so on,” explains Reza. “They have been able to provide years of data in addition to the data in which we are gathering firsthand.  We want to have a representative sample of the city of Tallahassee.”

One method used to receive residents feedback is a free, digital application named DigiTally. This smartphone application allows residents to report outages, access public transportation, manage utility bills, report  potholes, graffiti, and broken street lights. It also allows residents to take a photo of the problem and send it directly to the correct department within the city. The idea is to hopefully lead to a quicker fix.