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Extracting User Behavior at Electric Vehicle Charging Stations with Transformer Deep Learning ModelsMobile applications have become widely popular for their ability to access real-time information. In electric vehicle (EV) mobility, these applications are used by drivers to locate charging stations in public spaces, pay for charging transactions, and engage with other users. This activity generates a rich source of data about charging infrastructure and behavior. However, an increasing share of this data is stored as unstructured text—inhibiting our ability to interpret behavior in real-time. In this article, we implement recent transformer-based deep learning algorithms, BERT and XLnet, that have been tailored to automatically classify short user reviews about EV charging experiences. We achieve classification results with a mean accuracy of over 91% and a mean F1 score of over 0.81 allowing for more precise detection of topic categories, even in the presence of highly imbalanced data. Using these classification algorithms as a pre-processing step, we analyze a U.S. national dataset with econometric methods to discover the dominant topics of discourse in charging infrastructure. After adjusting for station characteristics and other factors, we find that the functionality of a charging station is the dominant topic among EV drivers and is more likely to be discussed at points-of-interest with negative user experiences.
Using machine learning techniques to aid environmental policy analysis: a teaching case in big data and electric vehicle infrastructureFor a growing class of prediction problems, big data and machine learning analyses can greatly enhance our understanding of the effectiveness of public investments and public policy. However, the outputs of many machine learning models are often abstract and inaccessible to policy communities or the general public. In this article, we describe a hands-on teaching case that is suitable for use in a graduate or advanced undergraduate public policy, public affairs or environmental studies classroom. Students will engage on the use of increasingly popular machine learning classification algorithms and cloud-based data visualization tools to support policy and planning on the theme of electric vehicle mobility and connected infrastructure. By using these tools, students will critically evaluate and convert large and complex datasets into human understandable visualization for communication and decision-making. The tools also enable user flexibility to engage with streaming data sources in a new creative design with little technical background.