USC Price School of Public Policy

USC Researchers Receive MTA Grant

USC Researchers Receive MTA Grant

By James Grant

Lisa Schweitzer SPPD’s Lisa Schweitzer is among a team of USC researchers who received a grant from the MTA.

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

The system also will allow archiving and analysis of the approximately 10 gigabytes of data collected daily by various agencies. These data currently are discarded each day and have never before been stored for research and evaluation, according to Genevieve Giuliano, director of METRANS and professor at the USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development.

SPPD associate professor Lisa Schweitzer said metro and several other agencies daily collect and transmit data on traffic throughout the region.

Among other things, she explained, such data feeds allow the Metropolitan Transit Authority to remotely follow individual buses, the California Department of Transportation to update electronic traffic signs on freeways and the City of Los Angeles to automatically adjust traffic light patterns to deal with emerging problems.

“But we know that integrating these data sets could make traffic management even better,” Schweitzer said.

Cyrus Shahabi, director of the Integrated Media Systems Center and USC Viterbi School of Engineering computer science professor will design and develop the data archive with a team of researchers at METRANS.

“We have a rich inventory of well-developed research innovations for managing such large-scale, heterogeneous and real-time data,” said Shahabi, who has extensive experience with dynamic and large-scale databases. “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 USC METRANS Transportation Center is a U.S. Department of Transportation University Transportation Center. Established in 1998 through the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, METRANS is a joint partnership of USC and California State University, Long Beach. The center focuses on developing solutions to transportation problems in large metropolitan areas.

The USC Integrated Media Systems Center is a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center focusing on geo-immersion, a new computing paradigm that blends the real world with the virtual world.