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Access to internet during travel reduces the value of travel time savings, says new study

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3 May 2018

Researchers from Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IITB), Mumbai, have looked at the benefits of availing access to information and communication technologies (ICT) during travel time. The study shows that access to ICT equipment had significant positive impacts on multitasking activities.

As the digital age progresses, many aspects of our life, like work, friends, colleagues and family are all accessible thanks to advances in ICT. Access to a basic smartphone, armed with internet service enables peer interaction on the go. Working professionals can now access their emails, chat with colleagues and even attend meetings remotely, thanks to advances in ICT. But how does access to these technologies impact our productivity during travel?

To answer this question, researchers from IITB looked at the evidence from multitasking activity patterns during travel gathered from Mumbai, India. They also looked at the effect of multitasking on the value of travel time savings (VTTS).

Value of travel time savings (VTTS) is a measure of efficiency of productivity during travel. It refers to the cost of the time spent during travel. Lesser the productivity during travel, higher is the VTTS. According to the researchers “the multitasking behavior during travel was studied, ascertaining the effect of various socio-economic variables, access to information and communication technologies (ICT), and travel related factors.”

The researchers collected travel diary data from 1123 individuals, which revealed the preferred mode of transport and multitasking activities undertaken during travel. The study shows that access to a smartphone with more than 1 Gigabyte of data usage had positive impact on ICT dependent multitasking. It also showed that for people who used their smartphones for reading, usage of social media, messaging or talking and playing games, their VTTS showed significant reduction of up to 25%. The study also revealed that while the effects of travel parameters on multitasking activities were comparable to studies from other developed nations, the effects of socio-economic factors on multitasking behaviour differed from developed nations.

The researchers have used the study to make cross country comparisons of multitasking behaviour and believe that the results could be utilized to come up with policy decisions.