We live in a world where massive amounts of data are currently available to us. In 2013, the size of the digital universe was estimated to be near 5 zettabytes (1 zettabyte = 1 million terabytes) and is expected to quadruple by 2020. Like the physical world, the information in it is diverse – created by anyone and everyone who has an internet connection. That’s nearly 40% of the Earth’s current population or 3 billion users.
The use of big data analytics can have a huge impact on urban planning, intelligent transportation and safety research. Though the collection and use of large data sets for decision making are not new to the transportation sector, technology is moving forward at a rapid pace to assist in this area in new and exciting ways.
“You need Big Data technologies,” said Dr. Sanjay Ranka, a professor in the UF Department of Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE). Ranka is also an affiliate of the University of Florida Transportation Institute (UFTI). “They aren’t just about collecting large amounts of data, but deriving actionable relationships that can positively impact business objectives .”
Ranka earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science from IIT, Kanpur, India in 1985, and a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Minnesota in 1988. He then went on to run his own company for several years before ultimately deciding to return to academia. In 2002, he became a faculty member in CISE.
Recently, Ranka has been granted funding by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) for a new Big Data pilot project, which he will be working on alongside UFTI Dr. Siva Srinivasan, an associate professor in the UF Department of Civil Engineering/UFTI and Dr. Ilir Bejleri, an associate professor in the UF Department of Urban & Regional Planning.
The purpose of their project is to demonstrate the usefulness and benefits of utilizing Big Data sets that are available along with data analytics to analyze, model, and solve important challenges in traffic operations and the transportation industry such as:
- Pedestrian Fatalities
- Impact of Sun Rail on Regional Transportation
- Effectiveness of Road Ranger Patrols
- Assessing Public Perception of Central Florida Regional Transportation
- Evaluating the Effectiveness of Investments in Transportation
- Even now, not all of his projects center around it, though many do focus on the transportation field.
Specifically, Ranka and Elefteriadou, have been working on a signal management of autonomous and connected vehicles project that is funded through the National Science Foundation (NSF) and FDOT. Together they are working on problems such as: How do you build a signal control system that takes into account autonomous and non-autonomous vehicles? How do you decrease congestion by optimizing the number of cars that go through an intersection? And many others.
“The world is now slowly moving to where most of the cars in the next 10 and 20 years are going to become less driver-reliant and becoming more autonomous,” he said.
Computer & Information Science & Engineering
Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering