Mobile Visitor Tracking App and Big Data

The goal of the National Park’s is to improve visitor enjoyment, visitor access, visitor safety, and resource protection. To achieve this, Glacier National Park has implemented various monitoring and observational strategies designed to collect data on visitor numbers, behaviors, and traffic patterns over the years. The Park’s aim is to:

  • reduce wait times for visitors entering the park
  • reduce searching time for parking spots
  • reduce overflow parking and social pull-offs on road shoulders near popular areas
  • reduce vehicle congestion on the park’s Going-to-the-Sun-Road

To accurately track the behavior and mobility patterns of visitors, it is necessary to effectively monitor the numerous navigational and destination options available in Glacier. One of the most popular methods over the past several years was to use physical car counters as well as extensive observational data. While there is merit in these methodologies, it is difficult, if not impossible, to infer the numerous navigational options afforded to visitors. Furthermore, the ability to collect data on temporal patterns, such as ‘how long’ visitors spend in the park and at particular locations has not been available. In general, data collection on visitor traffic behavior and patterns has been elusive.

In this project, the WPI Team will develop a vehicle tracking phone application. The phone app will be capable of automatically determining, storing, and archiving the geographic location and time stamp of a vehicle while in the Park. This will lead to the development of ‘Big Data’ analysis and predictive analytics.