The information provided on this page has been contributed by the individual alumnus

Joshua Stevens

BA 2009, MS 2011

Advisor: Dr. Kirk Goldsberry
Thesis Title: “Alternative Segmentation Schemes for the Design of Traffic Maps”

My research at MSU was focused on using cartography and GIScience to investigate how traffic maps are employed and how their users interpret the mapped information. Despite being used by millions of people each day, traffic maps haven’t received much attention from cartographers. This fact encouraged me to explore conventional traffic map designs in an attempt to discover the consequences and opportunities
related to this situation. Using data provided by the California Department of Transportation’s Performance Measurement System (PeMS), I created two prototype designs centered on alternative segmentation techniques and then compared these designs to conventional traffic maps in a user-based experiment. Through this research, I discovered that the segmentation schemes used in traffic maps have a profound influence on how accurately and quickly users can interpret travel-times. Fixing the length of the segments to 5-miles or 1-minute of travel-time yielded significant improvements over the conventional traffic map design. This work may lead to maps that aid traffic-related decision-making, which can improve the experiences of drivers as well as the performance of a transportation network as a whole.

After graduation, I began a PhD program at the Pennsylvania State University under the advisement of Dr. Alan MacEachren. Maintaining my interests in transportation, cartography, and GIScience, I am now looking at ways of incorporating various environmental data and real-time traffic information. One direction I am exploring is the use of traffic sensors to model the spatio-temporal variation of vehicular emissions. Such a model could be used within a visualization tool that would allow users to see congestion events as well as the environmental consequences of those events as they occur. Additional displays and the manipulation of parameters could then facilitate how we understand the relationships between congestion and emissions.