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Using Custom Transportation Data Collection Software With Handheld Computers For Education, Research, And Practice

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Instrumentation and Laboratory Systems

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1405.1 - 10.1405.12



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Paper Authors

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Robert Bertini

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Christopher Monsere

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Using Custom Transportation Data Collection Software with Handheld Computers for Education, Research, and Practice

Robert L. Bertini, Christopher M. Monsere, Andrew Byrd

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Portland State University

Abstract In an effort to facilitate data collection for research, give students first-hand experience collecting data for course projects, and generate interest in the transportation field through outreach, the Portland State University Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Laboratory has developed custom data collection software for handheld computers using the Palm OS platform. The software is designed to export the collected data to desktop computers in common file formats suitable for analysis in spreadsheet and geographic information systems (GIS) applications. Data collection problems addressed include recording position over time, recording the geographic location of features, and performing cumulative vehicle or pedestrian counts. Introduction As transportation researchers, we routinely deal with sizable and dynamic transportation data in our efforts to understand, model, quantify, and validate transportation systems. Where appropriate, these data can be incorporated into our transportation courses as lecture material, assignments, or laboratory work to promote active student learning. Educational research and our experience has shown that engaging students in active learning can significantly improve student outcomes.1 The use of existing data to illustrate and emphasize theory, however, precludes student exposure to the data collection process. We feel students benefit from collecting and analyzing their own data. Most students learn as they struggle with comparing real-world observations with expected results or textbook examples. Further, they learn important lessons about data quality, accuracy, time, and expense necessary for data collection. While desirable, the collection of effective data for educational purposes tends to be time-consuming, requiring many people, many hours of their time, and is highly manual. Equipment to automate data collection is typically costly and not available for classroom purposes. These restrictions usually mean if any data collection is incorporated in transportation coursework, it is of short duration and relatively simple (e.g., intersection vehicle or pedestrian counts or parking surveys). We have attempted to incorporate the data collection “process” into the classroom and laboratory by creating tools using equipment readily available at low cost (often referred to as “commodity hardware”) and custom open-source software. We have developed software for Palm OS handheld computers which, when coupled with global positioning system (GPS) devices, allow a great deal of transportation-related data to be collected rather easily. Data collection assignments

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Bertini, R., & Monsere, C. (2005, June), Using Custom Transportation Data Collection Software With Handheld Computers For Education, Research, And Practice Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15014

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