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Research · Bissan Ghaddar

Carpool matchmaking

Mar 1, 2018

Three People In A Car

There are apps that match us with dates, friends, housing or work. But what if there was an application that could match us with compatible carpoolers?

Carpooling, of course, is the sharing of vehicles to reach common destinations. While many people carpool to save money or reduce emissions, Ivey’s Assistant Professor Bissan Ghaddar’s research shows that improving the enjoyability of rides could increase usage by up to 57 per cent.

Ghaddar recently created a framework based on mobility patterns and social interests that matches compatible carpoolers. Using Twitter data, the framework measures enjoyability based on location, interests, social links and tendency to connect with people of similar or dissimilar interests. The goal was to create a long-term, practical application for sharing rides in an enjoyable way.

“We found that we were able to provide a balance between being environmentally friendly and having an enjoyable ride without sacrificing one for the other,” said Ghaddar.

Social & Sustainable

The whole idea of carpooling with complete strangers may prevent many of us from trying it out. But as the research showed, more people would be willing to carpool knowing they have been matched with other passengers based on their interests.

“It’s environmentally friendly, sustainable and socially interactive, which means people are going to be more interested or looking forward to their daily rides with people that they are interested in,” said Ghaddar. “Having a matching process also takes out the human element of uncertainty and can help people feel safe about sharing a ride.”

With all of the current disruptive technologies, there is a lot of data and information available to us and it is important to use it in ways that benefit the community, make better decisions and simplify our daily lives, she said.

A way forward

Ghaddar said this research provides some insight into the future of autonomous cars and what services we can use or benefit from the data we have right now. She sees a future of asset sharing, where we will share our vehicles rather than own them, similar in a way to Uber. This model could assist in optimizing asset sharing by matching people with not only similar routes but also similar interests.

The team is now looking at a multi-modal model, which includes the combination of car sharing and public transit to further improve the carpooling experience.

“By looking at data we currently have in terms of smart cities, there are lots of applications and practical uses we have to continue improving our societies and the environment. We can lessen the number of cars on the road, minimize congestion and demand of parking which helps the environment and creates a better quality of life.”