Mobile phone tracking: in support of modelling traffic-related air pollution contribution to individual exposure and its implications for public health impact assessment.

Author(s): 
Publication Date: 
Jan 16, 2014

We propose a new approach to assess the impact of traffic-related air pollution on public health by mapping personal trajectories using mobile phone tracking technology in an urban environment. Although this approach is not based on any empirical studies, we believe that this method has great potential and deserves serious attention. Mobile phone tracking technology makes it feasible to generate millions of personal trajectories and thereby cover a large fraction of an urban population. Through analysis, personal trajectories are not only associated to persons, but it can also be associated with vehicles, vehicle type, vehicle speed, vehicle emission rates, and sources of vehicle emissions. Pollution levels can be estimated by dispersion models from calculated traffic emissions. Traffic pollution exposure to individuals can be estimated based on the exposure along the individual human trajectories in the estimated pollution concentration fields by utilizing modelling tools. By data integration, one may identify trajectory patterns of particularly exposed human groups. The approach of personal trajectories may open a new paradigm in understanding urban dynamics and new perspectives in population-wide empirical public health research. This new approach can be further applied to individual commuter route planning, land use planning, urban traffic network planning, and used by authorities to formulate air pollution mitigation policies and regulations.