Computer Science Students Create RIDSI Website to Help Track Traffic

May 06, 2021

The five members of the RIDSI team

The RIDSI team. Top, from left: Project lead Brock Weekley; Haley Massa; Brad Shinker. Bottom, from left:Tristen Harr; Robert Truesdale.

State officials and emergency workers in Missouri will have an easier way to view traffic data in the future, thanks to a Mizzou Engineering collaboration. For their senior capstone project, computer science students created a website and mobile app that provide a central source for real-time and historical transportation information. The website, Regional Intelligent Transportation System Data Sharing Initiative, or RIDSI, builds on the work of Yaw Adu-Gyamfi, an assistant professor in civil and environment engineering. Adu-Gyamfi received a grant last year to streamline cloud-based traffic data to allow city, county and state agencies to better communicate with one another.

“He built a prototype site with placeholder data, so we essentially took inspiration from that and created a more aesthetic site with aggregated data in real-time,” said Brock Weekley, project lead.

RIDSI pulls in information from the Missouri Department of Transportation, St. Charles County and the East-West Gateway Council of Governments. Users can download historical data, make inquiries about speed and travel times for specific road segments and access weather data and hazardous travel conditions.

The site also includes live streams of interstates and Missouri highways using the state’s network of traffic cameras.

Right now, the website is available to anyone, however in the future, some features will be accessible only by government agencies.

“Government agencies will use the data to note where accidents are happening so they can improve road safety,” Weekley said. “There will be a public site that will have fewer but similar features.”

Real-world experience

Weekley, who is a dual graduate student in computer science, was responsible for the team which was contracted by the university to do the work through Adu-Gyamfi’s grant.

“I took on the role of organizing everything and keeping everything structured,” he said. “That was a new experience, and something I’m very thankful for.”

Haley Massa, Brad Schinker and Robert Truesdale all worked on frontend development and user experience, while Tristen Harr focused on backend development.

“This was my first time really working on a project this size,” Massa said. “I’ve worked on small web development projects, but this project gave me a much better understanding of the whole process, so that was neat. It’s also nice to work with other people who have different ideas and can help if you get stuck.”

Schinker also helped organize tasks and keep the team on track through weekly meetings. He managed an online task board that allowed the team to keep track of assignments.

“I really enjoyed practicing and applying organizational skills,” he said. “It was a fun experience and really sharpened my development tools and skills.”

Truesdale agreed, noting that the project taught him the importance of “clean” coding and agile development. The group used React, a JavaScript library, to build the user interface.

“Everyone was learning it together, so it was nice to see how far everyone came,” he said.

As backend lead and database administrator, Harr said at times it felt like a full-time job.

“I think the biggest thing I gained was a sense of something that felt more like a real-world experience than anything I’ve done,” he said.

Weekley will continue to stay on the project and work with Adu-Gyamfi on further development and implementation.

While other team members will move on after graduation, they all agreed they’ll be checking in on the RIDSI site.

“I show it to my friends and am like, ‘I helped make this. This is me,’” Massa said. “The front end came out really well, beyond our expectations. It looks very professional, and I’m proud to be able to say that.”