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Professor Ozbay's Transportation Lab Shines at a High-Profile Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board


It’s an undeniable honor for a university research group to be invited to present a paper at a conference—especially a conference like the one organized annually by the National Academies Transportation Research Board (TRB). That event draws over 12,000 people from some 70 countries—including policymakers, administrators, practitioners, and researchers from government, industry, and academia—and is widely considered one of the most prestigious international events focused on transportation issues.

Professor of Civil and Urban Engineering Kaan Ozbay, who is jointly appointed with NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP), was not, however, invited to present a single paper at the TRB’s 95th Annual Meeting, which was held in Washington, D.C., in mid-January. Instead, he and members of his Urban Mobility and Intelligent Transportation Systems laboratory were asked to present an impressive twelve peer-reviewed papers. And while it is exceedingly unusual for a group to be recognized by the TRB to such an extent, this is not the first year in which Ozbay and his fellow researchers have been spotlighted in that manner; the previous year they presented an astonishing thirteen papers.

“Our research group happens to be fairly prolific,” Ozbay says, with some degree of understatement. He explains that the papers they presented this year touched upon such wide-ranging topics as the impact of double parking on city streets, pedestrian safety, urban evacuation routes in the context of climate change, and secondary collisions and their resulting injuries. (Secondary collision refers to the impact between a vehicle’s occupant and the vehicle itself; it follows the initial impact between the vehicle and the object it has hit.)

One paper they presented examines human activity and mobility patterns by studying the digital footprints left by users of Twitter, who often post geo-located status updates. “The increasing use of mobile devices and location-sharing apps has provided us with novel approaches for research,” Ozbay says. Another presented paper that made use of Big Data—long a hallmark of Ozbay’s research—explores the post-hurricane recovery process by analyzing taxi trip data from New York’s Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) and subway ridership data from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). Ozbay explains that the methodology proposed in that study could be used to evaluate the resilience of transportation systems and provide government agencies with useful insights into emergency management.

Among Ozbay’s co-authors were postdoctoral fellow Ender Faruk Morgul; students Kun Xie, Abdullah Kurkcu, Yuan Zhu, Jingqin Gao; and ex-PhD students Dr. Hong Yang, Dr. Bekir Bartin, Dr. Sami Demiroluk, and Dr. Anil Yazici.