LBS Data is Not Dead: The Changing Landscape of Location Based Services Data for Transportation Planning

By: Jonathan Silverberg on September 5, 2023

Written by: Jonathan Silverberg

Transportation professionals widely recognize the value of location-based services (LBS) data for various purposes, such as supplementing or replacing expensive and onerous household travel surveys. However, concerns have emerged in recent years regarding the data's ability to support certain use case applications.

Reduction in Data Availability Has Caused Concerns

Specifically, the ability to derive speed, mode, or full trip trajectories from mobile device data has come under question due to changes in data availability. By data availability, we mean the number of times each device generates a GPS sighting throughout the day, and, more importantly, the temporal difference between adjacent pings.

LBS Data Continues to Have Applications in Transportation Planning

Despite this reduction in data availability, LBS data still has legitimate applications, particularly for generating origin-destination trip tables (i.e., trip matrices). It continues to provide valuable insights into flows of people, identification of home and work locations, and inference of trip purposes. Additionally, LBS is the only source that provides insights, not only on the movement of people in cars but also as pedestrians, bikers, in transit, rail and air.

How AirSage’s LBS Data Panel Compares

Now, let's delve into the topic of LBS data availability and explore how AirSage's data panel fits into this context. AirSage evaluates its raw location data based on three key criteria: device quality, source reliability, and panel size (the quantity of high-quality reliable devices).

Based on these criteria, we find that AirSage's data panel today compares to its panel in 2019, which represents approximately 50% of its peak in early 2022. However, the growth rate of data availability remains strong, with an annual increase of approximately 33%. We anticipate that AirSage's panel will return to 2022 levels by the end of 2024. The only capability currently missing, compared to early 2022, is that which is derived from ultra high device reporting rates - mainly, the ability to infer mode of transport.


In conclusion, while there have been shifts in LBS data availability, it remains a highly valuable resource for transportation professionals, with AirSage continuing to provide high-quality, reliable data that is used to make better informed decisions.

If you’d like to discuss LBS data further, schedule a call with us.


About the Author:

Jonathan Silverberg, CTO & Co-President of AirSage has over 22 years of experience in senior technology management. He is the former CEO at Decell, a global leader of real-time traffic information specializing in leveraging mobile signaling data as well as GPS data for transportation applications. He is also the inventor of several granted patents in the fields of mobile communication and traffic information.




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