This paper focuses on the methodology for estimating total freight transport activity (FTA) for three countries — China, India and Saudi Arabia — with the objective of building on current state-of-the-art transportation modeling in three key areas:
- Studying the relationship between nighttime lights (NTL) and FTA allows for an estimation of full transportation datasets for countries where only a few observation points exist or where data is unavailable.
- Establishing the foundation for future work on how to use this approach in transport flow estimation (origin-destination matrices).
- Determining whether this approach can be used globally, given the coverage of the satellite data used.
The paper uses the KAPSARC Transport Analysis Framework (KTAF), which estimates transport activity from freely available global data sources, satellite images and NTL. It is a tool for estimating freight transport activity that can be used in models to measure the impact of an accelerated transport policy planning approach.
The methodology offers a solution to inadequate data access and allows for scenario building in policy planning for transportation. This approach allows for quick estimation of the effects of policy measures and economic changes on transportation activities at a global level. The paper also includes a detailed guide on how to replicate the methodology used in this analysis.