Momentum: Issue #33

November 25, 2019


The last decade saw the creation of dynamic markets and exchanges for transportation data and an ecosystem of suppliers across multiple domains: driver navigation, dispatch, traffic, and weather; vehicle diagnostic and crash prevention data; as well as adaptive infrastructure and “smart cities.” Where, how, and by whom this data is used has already began to dramatically shape the next generation of transportation. ITS America’s first Data Series forum, which was held on November 15 in San Francisco,  focused on the lessons that can be learned from current data practices in place across the United States, with an emphasis on identifying strategies to prepare for the new scale of data sharing, access and utilization through Mobility on Demand (MOD) services as well as connected and automated vehicles. The insights gathered from this meeting fall into three major themes: defining the value of traffic data; identifying the best tools to gather needed data; and creating proper strategies to select which data to gather.

The value of transportation data to public sector agencies is apparent. City planners can use transportation data for state-of-the-art traffic management. Understanding traffic behaviors and overlaying it with census data allows city planners to have a crystal ball. This data can facilitate the reduction of congestion and emissions within a transportation network and can be vital in improving safety by identifying areas of increase risk to drivers and pedestrians alike. Transportation agencies can use data to identify anomalies such as crashes in real time and machine high-speed pattern recognition to identify patterns in the data. This data can allow governments to repair roads or fix trouble-spots at a fraction of a cost, as they are fixing problems before they get out of hand. Government agencies such as state departments of transportation, cities, MPOs, transit and tolling agencies use data to prioritize resources based on where people are moving. Data is also a resource for decision makers to visualize the impact of their policy choices.

What are the best tools for cities to gather valuable datasets? Different methods include using real-time counters and sensors, analysis of public transportation arrival times, or study of GPS data gathered by a city’s transportation fleet. Methods of gathering data have recently become increasingly complex, as connected infrastructure can communicate with traffic-management centers to adjust to traffic conditions in real time. Each of these tools offers access to different types of data, so they must be used in conjunction with each other to establish a full picture of the traffic and road conditions of an area.

In order to gather this full picture, agencies often rely on traditional and third-party sources. Private mobility companies are gathering transportation data to maximize their ability to map users and efficiently transport them to their destination. The data they gather from users allow them to set rates, identify routes, and estimate demand. Accepting that transportation data offers extreme value to planners, to what extent should the public sector require relevant transportation data from private users of the transportation system? How do we define the responsibility of private companies, be they TNCs or OEMs, to provide data to government agencies such as state DOTs, cities, MPOs, transit, or tolling agencies? Executive forum participants pointed to the importance of identifying the benefit of a data sharing arrangement to both sides involved, otherwise the party left out is likely to drag its feet. Additionally, they recommended narrowing down information requests to allow defining fair boundaries on data collection. Within this framework of data sharing, agencies should have the tools that they need to continue to plan transportation strategies for the 21st century.

The next event in our Data Series is December 11th – join us if you’ll be in the Los Angeles area! More information and registration are available here.


Name: Elizabeth Johnson
: Programming & Outreach Coordinator
Company: ITS America 

Short Job Description: My role is primarily to help organize and plan numerous ITS America events and support communication between the organization and our members. 

Favorite part of working at ITSA: Working with such a fun and intelligent team to advocate for safety and the advancement of transportation technology!

What’s the future of #ITS look like to you? The potential for technology to play a role in making our roads safer and more efficient makes this an incredibly exciting field to work in. The future of automated vehicles and the expansion of mobility service options will only lead to a transportation system that works around the individual to make commutes and travel safer and more accessible.

Family: My two pups, Cooper and Oliver!

Karaoke Song: Any song from A Star is Born