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

Increasing Transparency and Understanding in Decision Making Through Big Data, Individual Project Evaluation, and Performance Measure Visualization

Corresponding Author: Maria Roell, Atlanta Regional Commission

Presented By: Maria Roell, Atlanta Regional Commission


For decades, the regional travel demand model has been the foremost tool in support of the regional transportation needs assessment in the Metro-Atlanta region. In recent years, the growing availability of big data and technological advances are providing a chance to develop new strategies for more effectively evaluating projects based on need and performance and communicating those results. Integrating real-world performance data into the transportation needs assessment and infrastructure investment decision-making has rapidly caught the attention of many MPOs and DOTs around the country. Currently, using big data is challenging and expensive, but important for understanding project level need measures. Also, traditional regional modelling practices do not provide enough clarity to evaluate project level performance measures for prioritization.

The Atlanta Regional Commission has developed a regional Key Network made up of a combination of big data and modelled data allowing in depth analysis of transportation projects at a network level and the Project Evaluation Visualization tool as a way to visualize all of the data being used in transportation project evaluations for the region. The Key Network was created through consolidation of multiple networks and data sets and by modelling projects separately, in bundles, and in different years. The Project Evaluation Visualization tool uses the current and future performance measures index. The current measures are all based on real world data where is available. The future measures are all calculated by running each project through a transportation demand model, a process which calculates individual project performance for each measure. The advantage of this network in combination with the separation of need and performance measures and a new evaluation tool utilizing online interactive data visualization software, is a clearer, more effective, and more transparent project evaluation process.


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