Newly arrived from his appointment at the University of Cambridge in the UK, Kenichi Soga is excited to return to hisalma mater, get down to business in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department and join research endeavors with the Institute of Transportation Studies.
Soga, with his PhD students Gerard Casey and Bingyu Zhao and research colleaguesvElisabete Silva and Krishna Kumar at Cambridge, is especially looking forward to continuing his study of London transport systems and expanding his work while at UC Berkeley, with the help of ITS.
For example, Soga’s research looks at the renewal project for London Bridge station. Tube stations, some built as early as the 1820s, go through renewal plans that predict the next 40 years of transportation requirements. As car ownership increased in the 1970s, London Bridge station was updated based on the demand predicted at that time.
However, the demand for public transit increased much more rapidly than predicted. To gain a better sense of how current public and private transit are being used, Soga and his students looked to gather all the road and transit information they could and find a way to use it effectively.
Their idea was to try to quantify what transportation was being used, in real-time, and track which streets people in cars are using, and which rail and bus lines are being used — and at what capacity they are being used.
“We can record how people are moving quickly and how people react to disturbance,” says Soga.
He and his research team are developing a city-scale simulator tool to record the interactions using live public transit feeds from transport operators and traffic data from Google, which they developed into a web-based program for ease of use.
With this information, Soga and his team can look at how transit delays, breakdowns and service interruptions affect traffic patterns and which alternative routes are used and deduce the best travel route for that specific time. Using an agent-based modeling approach, the tool can evaluate the effect of changes to infrastructure usage. The tool shapes a map that includes layers of data and allows users to remove or add streets and railway routes from the interface.
Soga and his research team are also extending the tool to investigate better infrastructure maintenance for roads and rail lines in an integrated manner using the real-time data.
The next step in Soga’s research is to investigate the value of sensors to collect more data. He is currently looking at what kind of sensors he would need to generate data cost effectively and how to maintain them properly.
Soga earned his B.Eng. and M. Eng. in 1987 and 1989 at Kyoto University. He was awarded a Ph.D. in 1994 from UC Berkeley. He was Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Cambridge until 2015 and is a founding member of the Cambridge Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction.