A simple contagion process describes spreading of traffic jams in urban networks

The spread of traffic jams in urban networks has long been viewed as a complex spatio-temporal phenomenon that often requires computationally intensive microscopic models for analysis purposes. In this study, we present a framework to describe the dynamics of congestion propagation and dissipation of traffic in cities using a simple contagion process, inspired by those used to model infectious disease spread in a population. We introduce two novel macroscopic characteristics of network traffic, namely congestion propagation rate \b{eta} and congestion dissipation rate {\mu}. We describe the dynamics of congestion propagation and dissipation using these new parameters, \b{eta}, and {\mu}, embedded within a system of ordinary differential equations, analogous to the well-known Susceptible-Infected-Recovered (SIR) model. The proposed contagion-based dynamics are verified through an empirical multi-city analysis, and can be used to monitor, predict and control the fraction of congested links in the network over time.

 

A simple contagion process describes spreading of traffic jams in urban networks
Meead Saberi, Mudabber Ashfaq, Homayoun Hamedmoghadam, Seyed Amir Hosseini, Ziyuan Gu, Sajjad Shafiei, Divya J. Nair, Vinayak Dixit, Lauren Gardner, S. Travis Waller, Marta C. González

Source: arxiv.org