Dhaka is infamous for its severe traffic congestion. Road traffic is almost the only transportation mode available in the city as of 2015, and the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) is planned to open in 2019. Previous studies have noted that such traffic congestion constraints the economic activity of the city. For example, Muzzini and Aparicio (2013) document that traffic congestion is a big constraint on the production of garment factories.
As part of the initiatives to mitigate traffic congestion, three flyovers were opened in 2013 (Mirpur-Airport Flyover, Kuril Flyover, and Jatrabari-Gulistan Flyover). Anecdotal evidence suggests that these flyovers have significantly improved the traffic congestion and local economic activities. However, systematic quantitative evaluations of the flyovers have not yet been done. This is partly due to lack of reliable data on the mobility and the economic activity at high temporal and spatial scale.
The study combines two novel datasets to address how the flyovers have affected mobility and the spatial distribution of economic activity. First, we utilise cell phone data from a mobile operator in Bangladesh. The data records location of each cell phone holder at the base station level whenever they make a phone call. This dataset allows us to construct a time-varying measure of mobility of people. Second, we use hourly electricity consumption data at a spatially disaggregated level in Dhaka. This data gives us time-varying measure of economic activity at high temporal resolution.
The methodology used in the project extends the one developed by Kreindler and Miyauchi (2015). They provide a framework to extract commuting flows from cell phone data, and they provide a model to map the information to the spatial distribution of economic activity. This project extends their framework to incorporate the temporal dimension and analyse the impact of travel time change within the city by the flyovers.