Evaluating the Accuracy of Bluetooth-Based Travel Time on Arterial Roads: A Case Study of Perth, Western Australia
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Bluetooth (BT) time-stamped media access control (MAC) address data have been used for traffic studies worldwide. Although Bluetooth (BT) technology has been widely recognised as an effective, low-cost traffic data source in freeway traffic contexts, it is still unclear whether BT technology can provide accurate travel time (TT) information in complex urban traffic environments. Therefore, this empirical study aims to systematically evaluate the accuracy of BT travel time estimates in urban arterial contexts. There are two major hurdles to deriving accurate TT information for arterial roads: the multiple detection problem and noise in BT estimates. To date, they have not been fully investigated, nor have well-accepted solutions been found. Using approximately two million records of BT time-stamped MAC address data from twenty weekdays, this study uses five different BT TT-matching methods to investigate and quantify the impact of multiple detection problems and the noise in BT TT estimates on the accuracy of average BT travel times. Our work shows that accurate Bluetooth-based travel time information on signalised arterial roads can be derived if an appropriate matching method can be selected to smooth out the remaining noise in the filtered travel time estimates. Overall, average-to-average and last-to-last matching methods are best for long (>1 km) and short (≤1 km) signalised arterial road segments, respectively. Furthermore, our results show that the differences between BT and ground truth average TTs or speeds are systematic, and adding a calibration is a pragmatic method to correct inaccurate BT average TTs or speeds. The results of this research can help researchers and road operators to better understand BT technology for TT analysis and consequently to optimise the deployment location and configuration of BT MAC address scanners.
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