PSU team maps Philadelphia’s telework trends

Center City has long been the bustling heart of Philadelphia, welcoming nearly 300,000 commuters daily to drive the city’s economic engine. But as the COVID-19 pandemic forces workers to stay remote, leaders are tapping artificial intelligence (AI) to better assess teleworking’s long-term impacts on the region’s transit — and on Center City’s future.

Students from Penn State University’s Nittany AI Alliance, in partnership with the City of Philadelphia, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) and Accenture, have developed an AI-driven algorithm to illustrate the “teleworking risk” of census tracts across the Philadelphia region. The algorithm uses American Community Survey data and historical ridership data from SEPTA to indicate the percentage of jobs that can be done by telework in each tract, then displays those percentages in a heat map.