Climate change, energy security and air quality concerns are at the forefront of contemporary challenges in the transportation sector. High quality travel behavior data provides an important input into the analyses required to address these issues. Unfortunately, due to organizational silos, data privacy concerns and the high cost of primary data collection, key players often do not have access to the data needed for developing informed solutions to these challenges. Key players in reducing vehicle environmental footprint include auto manufacturers, electric utility companies, and transportation planning agencies such as State DOTs and MPOs.
· Automobile researchers and manufacturers need travel behavior data to investigate and develop electrified vehicles such as hybrid and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs and PHEVs). On-road consumer travel profiles help inform design decisions (engine, motor, battery sizing, etc), and allow estimation of fuel savings relative to conventional technologies under “real-world” operation.
· Utility companies need to understand the electrical grid impact from powering large numbers of electrified vehicles. Travel behavior data helps them understand the temporal and seasonal variation of this added load on the grid, as well as the potential spatial distribution of recharging stations in order to understand their impact on the transmission system.
· Travel demand modelers are interested in the vehicle trace, origin to destination and the average speed/travel time across their network. Air quality analyses within the urban environment and especially in air quality non-attainment areas seek to model temporal and seasonal differences as well as speed and operational characteristics for the vehicles by type on the roadway.
Insufficient coordination currently exists between organizations that have historically collected travel behavior data and the expanded group of data users involved in environmental vehicle R&D. As a result, the data collectors assume sole responsibility for the significant costs of data collection and for the liability risk of sharing previously collected data for secondary use. The emerging data users encounter limited access to high resolution data sets, components missing from previous studies that they would have liked to see included, and find themselves faced with the choice between duplicating data collection at considerable cost or making significant assumptions in order to approximate answers to their research questions.
This research evaluated the extent to which travel behavior data would be useful in supporting this type of research, and identified the possibilities for and barriers to collaboration. The research found that collaboration across different stakeholder groups could result in an efficient use of research funding through sharing data, combining and prioritizing research efforts, and disseminating results. The findings also suggest that stakeholders could benefit from collaborations that reduce the net spending of each group on data collection. In turn, the fine-grain details collected as part of these efforts could support the development of advanced analytical approaches for all stakeholders. As these collaborative efforts evolve, the these discussions and efforts could lead to the identification of research topics that would be suitable for funding under future NCHRP programs or other similar sources.
STATUS: The contractor's final report is available HERE