Privacy-Preserving Cross-Area Traffic Forecasting in ITS: A Transferable Spatial-Temporal Graph Neural Network Approach

Yuxin Qi, Jun Wu, Ali Kashif Bashir, Xi Lin, Wu Yang, Mohammad Dahman Alshehri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Traffic forecasting is essential in improving and maintaining safety and orderliness in intelligent transportation systems (ITS). As a deep learning approach, graph neural networks (GNN) based spatial-temporal association mining methods are promising in traffic forecasting. However, current GNN-based methods usually require a high number of training data, and when the sample volume is small, the performance of the model drops dramatically. The existing transfer methods can solve this problem by leveraging knowledge from other data-rich areas, but the domain adaption method with access to source data still faces the non-neglectable problem of private information leakage in the source area. A solution that can solve cross-area transfer without access to source data is still missing. In this paper, to fill the gap, we propose a Transferable Federated Inductive Spatial-Temporal Graph Neural Network (T-ISTGNN) framework to transfer spatial-temporal dependency information in cross-area data to accomplish traffic state forecasting. First, we introduce a multi-source model aggregation scheme based on federated learning to retain the traffic information of the source areas. Second, we propose a transfer method between source and target areas based on hypothesis transfer learning to achieve domain adaption under source domain data protection. Third, we propose a GNN-based method called Inductive Spatial-Temporal Graph Neural Network (ISTGNN) for traffic forecasting. Experiments on real-world datasets demonstrate that T-ISTGNN is capable of cross-area traffic state forecasting under the restriction of preserving the privacy of source areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Correlation
  • Data models
  • Deep learning
  • Forecasting
  • Graph neural networks
  • graph neural networks (GNN)
  • Roads
  • Spatial-temporal graph data
  • traffic flow forecasting
  • transfer learning
  • Transfer learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Automotive Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications


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