Road Network Design in a Developing Country Using Mobile Phone Data: An Application to Senegal

Yihong Wang, Goncalo Correia, Erik de Romph, Bruno F. Santos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
129 Downloads (Pure)


This study uses mobile phone data to understand mobility patterns in a country, with limited mobility data, in order to give advice about decisions on how to design the national and regional road network. Our method consists of three parts: (1) filtering mobile phone traces to derive mobility patterns, (2) building an adapted formulation of the gravity-based trip distribution model, which considers telecommunication intensity (i.e., aggregate number of calls and text messages) and travel time as input to forecast the influence of road improvements on country-wide mobility, and (3) optimizing the road network investment based on the adapted trip distribution model by using a local search algorithm. The method was applied to the case study country of Senegal. The mobile phone data was transformed to support informed decisions on road network development in that country given different objectives, namely accessibility and equity. We believe that the methodology is valuable and reproducible to other countries where traditional mobility data is scarce but mobile phone data is available to transport planners.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-49
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Intelligent Transportation Systems Magazine
Volume12 (2020)
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project
Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Adaptation models
  • Mobile handsets
  • Planning
  • Predictive models
  • Roads
  • Sociology
  • Statistics


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