Coördinating the GT bus system

This is part of the VIP (“Vertically Integrated Project”) program. Application is through the VIP website.


Professors: John Bartholdi (ISyE), Russ Clark (OIT, CoC)

We will meet Wednesdays 10—11:30am in Groseclose 226 (the SCL/Georgia Freight Bureau seminar room in the ISyE building, on the same floor as academic advisement). If you cannot meet at that time you will have to withdraw from the project for now and try again next semester. (Special exception may be made for those with special skills and proven ability to work independently.)

Sub-project teams will meet as necessary and at their convenience.


There will be no exams. You will be judged by your professors and peers on your contribution to and engagement with the project (details).

Everyone is expected to maintain a lab notebook with a sewn or glued binding (example). They are available at Staples or the GT Barnes and Noble bookstore. The notebook will be graded as per these expectations.

During the first two weeks we will organize into groups to match interests and skills with goals and tasks for this semester.

This is a project course and so fundamentally different from most other courses. We have a client to whom we have made commitments; and progress depends on teamwork. Therefore the pace of the class is set by the needs of the project. Unlike most other classes, you cannot neglect your work and catch up later. The project does not stop during mid-terms.

Failure to deliver on commitments inconveniences the entire team and endangers the success of the project. Lapses that might seem incidental in a lecture class will not be tolerated here. Do not enroll for this class unless you are prepared to work towards a team goal.

The best way to ensure the success of the project and enjoy your work is to find a piece of the project in which you are intensely interested and then take it on. The object is to make a contribution that persists.

We encourage team members to return in following semesters, especially if they have shown potential to grow into positions of technical leadership.

Goals, tasks for Fall Semester 2017

The system has been running successfully for 4 years but we continue to improve it and to extend its capabilities.

Provide more reporting tools

Refine and deploy Tableau dashboard by which GT Parking & Transportation can evaluate performance of the bus system.

Improve precision in recognizing arrival to, departure from checkpoints

GPS can be inaccurate, especially around tall buildings, which interfere with signals from the satellites. This makes it hard to note accurately when a bus arrives at a control point and – especially – when it departs.

To learn how to recognize when the bus has stopped, we are collecting data from smart phones. You install an app that will record all sensor data from an Android device and push it to a remote DB for analysis. Then you ride the bus and use the app to record times of actual arrival and departure.

Among the interesting sensor readings, besides GPS, are the accelerometer and the detection of Bluetooth beacons, which we will deploy.

An interesting sub-project could be built around the beacons. How can they best be used to detect arrivals and departures?

The data collected here will also be used for the next task.

Improve geolocation by using an external antenna

Should we use a service such as Transloc? Investigate! (We can purchase equipment for testing.)

Predict when the next bus will arrive

Can you do a better job than NextBus in predicting when the next bus will arrive?

Use dead-reckoning, machine-learning, or anything in between.


If you have another idea you would like to tackle, make a proposal!

The project

All our work lives on Github. To see it, you must log in with your user id and then email me your user id so I can grant access.

Look at the various projects underway and read their Wikis and examine their Issues. See any you want to work on? If not, propose something.

Do not start working without first having proposed what you will do, written a specification for it, and received approval.


It is expected that you will maintain according to VIP standards. Otherwise your grade will be based on lasting contribution to the project.

Do not undertake anything without prior approval. Individuals or small groups may submit proposals, not to exceed one page. It should include a description of what you plan to do, how it will be of value to GT P&TS, deliverables, and a schedule.

Immediate homework

If you are new to the project: