Dissecting GeoSparkSim: a scalable microscopic road network traffic simulator in Apache Spark

Jia Yu, Zishan Fu, Mohamed Sarwat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Researchers and practitioners have widely studied road network traffic data in different areas such as urban planning, traffic prediction and spatial-temporal databases. For instance, researchers use such data to evaluate the impact of road network changes. Unfortunately, collecting large-scale high-quality urban traffic data requires tremendous efforts because participating vehicles must install global positioning system(GPS) receivers and administrators must continuously monitor these devices. There have been some urban traffic simulators trying to generate such data with different features. However, they suffer from two critical issues (1) Scalability: most of them only offer single-machine solution which is not adequate to produce large-scale data. Some simulators can generate traffic in parallel but do not well balance the load among machines in a cluster. (2) Granularity: many simulators do not consider microscopic traffic situations including traffic lights, lane changing, car following. This paper proposed GeoSparkSim, a scalable traffic simulator which extends Apache Spark to generate large-scale road network traffic datasets with microscopic traffic simulation. The proposed system seamlessly integrates with a Spark-based spatial data management system, GeoSpark, to deliver a holistic approach that allows data scientists to simulate, analyze and visualize large-scale urban traffic data. To implement microscopic traffic models, GeoSparkSim employs a simulation-aware vehicle partitioning method to partition vehicles among different machines such that each machine has a balanced workload. The experimental analysis shows that GeoSparkSim can simulate the movements of 300 thousand vehicles over a very large road network (250 thousand road junctions and 300 thousand road segments) and outperform the existing competitors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)963-994
Number of pages32
JournalDistributed and Parallel Databases
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020


  • Apache Spark
  • Microscopic traffic simulation
  • Spatio-temporal data
  • Traffic model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Information Systems
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Information Systems and Management


Dive into the research topics of 'Dissecting GeoSparkSim: a scalable microscopic road network traffic simulator in Apache Spark'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this