Getting the data you need to make savvy transportation planning decisions can be a lengthy, expensive process if you’re using surveys, license plate counts, or road sensors. These methods also make it difficult to evaluate the performance of a policy or project after implementation.
For example, when planners rely on old or modeled data to design their project, they don’t have a real-world baseline to evaluate current performance after a project is completed. Most road sensors are removed after a few days, so they must be re-installed to collect more data. Surveys can take months or even years to complete. If planners want to make performance-based improvements as they implement policy or infrastructure changes, they often have to start from scratch with data collection. This could create real flaws if your community has seasonal variation based on weather or school - or if your community has new transportation patterns derived from the rise of ride share or urban population growth, for example.
In today’s world, there are much more efficient, up-to-date, and accurate ways to obtain the information you need. Nearly 77% of the US population uses a smartphone, and the data they produce is creating new options for transportation planners. In this article, I’ll share four advantages that Big Data has over conventional data sources for transportation planning.