Fall 2018

It's all about the journey

Illustration by Keith Negley

Transportation planners will soon have a new tool in their arsenal. Daynamica, a smartphone app developed by McKnight Land-Grant Professor Yingling Fan and her research team, provides an efficient, cost-effective way to collect data to improve transportation networks and policies. 

Daynamica combines GPS sensing with advanced techniques to track when, where, why, how, and with whom people go from place to place—in essence, the dynamics of daily activity, which led to the product’s name. “The app gathers rich data, including how happy people are during the activity,” says Fan, a Humphrey School of Public Affairs transit system planning expert. 

“The end goal is informing transportation planning and fostering healthier communities.” 

The idea was born in 2011, when Fan and her colleagues submitted a proposal to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Receiving the McKnight Land-Grant Professorship in 2012 gave her the time and funding to take a research leave and build a team at the U to develop the product. 

Daynamica is the first patent and start-up company to grow out of Humphrey School research. The app will be marketed initially to government agencies and businesses, then to consumers. Fan, Daynamica’s CEO, also sees potential in China, her native country. “There’s an untapped market and I think we have a good chance of succeeding,” she says.

Hear more from Yingling Fan about transportation and happiness.