TRB 2016 Blue Ribbon Committee
16th National Transportation Planning Applications Conference

Analyzing and Displaying Freight Data in Smarter Ways

Corresponding Author: Sebastian Guerrero, WSP

Presented By: Sebastian Guerrero, WSP


The proliferation of transportation data has been a boon to planning efforts around the U.S., but it has also created new challenges in the handling, analyzing, and displaying of the data. In 2014 and 2015, the Bi-State Regional Commission (MPO of Davenport IA-IL) and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) commissioned two independent efforts to improve their freight data systems with the objective of streamlining planning processes and improve communication with stakeholders. This presentation describes the lessons learned from both of these projects, showcasing the ability of next generation data visualization software and approaches to improve planning processes considerably. Some of the freight data sets considered were: the Freight Analysis Framework, the National Performance Management Research Data Set, truck volumes, crash data, the STB Public Waybill Sample, and many more. For FDOT, for example, 26 separate freight data sets were combined into an easy to use file system that weighed less than 5 GBs. The new tools used provide many advantages relative to traditional approaches. The authors will address the value and challenges of data visualization for freight planning, potential software choices, integration of multi-jurisdictional information, the challenges of updating the data, and the value of using freight visualization for public outreach.


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