Crowdsourcing and Its Application to Transportation Data Collection and Management

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

technology - passenger information, planning - public consultation, planning - service quality, planning - route design


Transportation planning, Crowdsourcing, Bike route data, Transit, Quality of service, Real-time information


The participation of a large and varied group of people in the planning process has long been encouraged to increase the effectiveness and acceptability of plans. However, in practice, participation by affected stakeholders has often been limited to small groups, both because of the lack of reach on the part of planners and because of a sense of little or no ownership of the process on the part of citizens. Overcoming these challenges to stakeholder participation is particularly important for any transportation planning process because the success of the system depends primarily on its ability to cater to the requirements and preferences of the people whom the system serves. Crowdsourcing uses the collective wisdom of a crowd to achieve a solution to a problem that affects the crowd. This paper proposes the use of crowdsourcing as a possible mechanism to involve a large group of stakeholders in transportation planning and operations. Multiple case studies show that crowdsourcing was used to collect data from a wide range of stakeholders in transportation projects. Two distinct crowdsourcing usage types are identified: crowdsourcing for collecting normally sparse data on facilities such as bike routes and crowdsourcing for soliciting feedback on transit quality of service and real-time information quality. A final case study exemplifies the use of data quality auditors for ensuring the usability of crowdsourced data, one of many potential issues in crowdsourcing presented in the paper. These case studies show that crowdsourcing has immense potential to replace or augment traditional ways of collecting data and feedback from a wider group of a transportation system's users without creating an additional financial burden.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Transportation Research Board, Washington, copyright remains with them.