Here is Eliot Abrams, doctoral student at the University of Chicago who is working on modeling food truck behavior:
Modeling food truck parking locations is complex, as there are around 70 active food trucks parking at more than 30 locations in Chicago. Thankfully, there is plenty of data because food trucks need to advertise their locations. Since 2011, Andrew Violette, who runs ChicagoFoodTruckFinder.com, has been tracking the city’s food trucks based on their Twitter feeds. I pulled 34,328 parking records from Violette’s website and created a simulation of how food trucks park.
This exercise translates the observed food truck movements into information on the relative number of customers a truck serves at each location on a given day. The number of customers is a function of many variables, such as the day of the week and the location chosen by the truck. I focus on estimating how customer traffic is impacted by the number and diversity of other trucks parking at the location and by the past frequency with which the truck has parked at the particular location. Just like Hotelling’s ice cream vendors, food trucks should (and do) choose their locations in response to these dynamics in order to maximize their profit.
As part of the same symposium, here is, Drew Davis, Booth MBA and most importantly a guy who runs food trucks:
In Wrigleyville, we ended up getting a lot of people out for Sunday strolls, running errands. We’re near a drugstore and a grocery store. By experimenting, we got to the right answer. We don’t want to be a destination in itself. We’d much rather make ourselves part of people’s everyday experience, a part of their lives.
At Booth, there’s always the question: Does the data exist and can I get it? I could generate data from our truck sales. But you can really only compare results if the day of the week was the same, the spot was the same, and the weather was the same. By the time you’ve made all those cuts in the data, the analysis would be horrendous. I work much better with stories.
Read the whole thing, Chad Syverson opines as well.