Atlanta traffic

If you live and work anywhere in the Atlanta area, you already know what to expect every morning and afternoon: traffic.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average commute time in DeKalb, Gwinnett and Cobb counties are around 30 minutes, though some drivers have commutes times three times that. And, in a March 2015 report, the Atlanta metro area had the longest commute distances of the 96 large metro areas in the United States.

But a team of researchers at Georgia Tech is using data obtained through an app called Commute Warrior to help make commutes not only faster but more efficient and environmentally friendly.

Commute Warrior tracks a user’s second-by-second travel activity whether driving, walking, biking or using public transportation. The app then sends that data to Georgia Tech researchers who are using the information to study travel behavior and learn more about travel times in certain areas.

“When you have that kind of data, you can do anything from traffic operations research to safety research to travel behavior studies,” said Professor Randall Guensler, a transportation systems engineer in the School Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE).

The app, which is only available on Android devices at the moment, works in the background and takes up a marginal amount of battery life, according to the CEE site. During a typical day, the app will use roughly 25 percent of the battery.

One of the first projects from the team worked on was sponsored by the National Center for Transportation Systems Productivity and Management (NCTSPM) that aimed to learn more about the commuting habits of people from the same area.

“In this study, we are trying to figure out why some households are taking GRTA Xpress buses and others are not,” Guensler said at the time. “Living in the same areas, same demographic characteristics, what is it about their travel that makes one household more amenable to taking the Xpress buses?”

The app does more than just collect data though.

It shows alternate routes that would make commutes shorter or more energy efficient and can show you how much time and energy each trip takes.

Channel 2’s Carol Sbarge recently reached out to the professors behind the app, Guensler and Professor Michael Rodgers, for tips on how to make the commute more bearable with things they learned from the app.