The rapid explosion of new freight data sources is creating significant opportunities for more effective and well-targeted planning and operation of roadways, particularly in urban and metropolitan areas. Changes in consumer behavior are impacting goods movement everywhere, especially in densely populated areas, where freight distribution is already challenged. For example, e-commerce is reducing passenger trips while increasing delivery vehicle trips. Growing populations are putting pressure on existing road capacity. Nonetheless, few cities or states have funding or space to build additional capacity into urban roads and highways. One consequence is that firms redesign their supply chains, resulting in land-use pattern changes that may add significant long-term costs to both the private and public sectors.
Research is needed to explore how new sources of freight data, including those from smart cities initiatives, crowd-sourcing (e.g., via smartphones, vehicle fleet tracking), sensors (e.g., vehicle-to-infrastructure, vehicle-to-vehicle), and cameras are being or could be used to inform and implement freight demand management strategies. The use of private sector data from businesses, shippers, and carriers should also be examined. The term “big data” is being applied to some of these new data sources.
The objective of this research is to develop guidance that: (1) provides an understanding of the rapidly emerging data being collected or processed by the private sector for truck freight movement practices in urban and metropolitan areas; (2) outlines approaches, methods, and analytical techniques that enable local agencies, MPOs and state DOTs to better carry out their planning, programming, and operations responsibilities; and (3) identifies and categorizes the use of current and emerging freight data sources for urban and metropolitan freight management strategies. The guidance should be scalable to agencies based on their range of resources and capabilities.
The research should address a wide range of topics related to new and emerging truck freight movement data, such as, but not limited to:
1. Understanding the problem:
- Engaging public stakeholders to identify current freight problems that could be addressed by the application of new and emerging truck freight movement data and analytics;
- Assessing the range of current and projected data sources and analytics; and
- Discussing the capabilities and limitations of the data and analytical tools.
2. Analyzing the potential applications:
- Analyzing applications, with domestic and international examples (e.g., policy support, investment, operations, planning, congestion, economic development) that support the research objective;
- Describing the relationship of the applications to demand management strategies;
- Assessing the relationships of the applications to the calibration of road network models (e.g., travel demand models, air quality models); and
- Understanding the interaction of truck data with other roadway user data (e.g., connected and autonomous vehicles).
3. Addressing the challenges of using the data:
- Identifying institutional issues (e.g., cost, workforce availability, social justice);
- Identifying policy challenges (e.g., privacy, legal, current federal requirements); and
- Developing lessons learned.
4. Taking advantage of the potential value of using new data sources:
- Identifying measures of effectiveness to replace or complement current practices;
- Describing the relationships and value added to traditional traffic, social, and economic data sources; and
- Developing and discussing innovative methods and ideas for testing new concepts and applications.
A kick-off teleconference with the research team and NCFRP shall be scheduled within 1 month of the contract’s execution to review and approve the work plan. The work plan must be divided into 3 Phases with tasks, with each task described in detail. Phase 1 will include a discussion of the application of new and emerging truck freight movement data and analytics, an outline of the guidance, and a list of proposed attendees for a Phase 2 workshop. The NCFRP panel is seeking insights of proposers on how they will manage the workshop and the expected collaboration between users and providers of truck freight data and analytics to address urban and metropolitan freight issues. Phase 2 will include the development of the draft guidance as well as a workshop at the Beckman Center in Irvine, CA, to present case studies, and gather information from the attendees to incorporate into the working draft of the guidance. An interim report will be prepared and a face-to-face meeting held with NCFRP to discuss the Phase 2 workshop results, an updated draft of the guidance, and a proposed list of attendees and plan for a Phase 3 workshop. No work will be conducted on Phase 3 without NCFRP approval. Phase 3 will include a workshop at the Keck Center in Washington, DC, to critique the updated draft of the guidance with a new group of users and providers of truck freight data and analytics.
The final deliverables shall include (1) guidance that provides (a) an understanding of the rapidly emerging data being collected or processed by the private sector for truck freight movement practices in urban and metropolitan areas; (b) outlines approaches, methods, and analytical techniques that could add value to local agencies, MPOs and state DOTs to carry out their planning, programming, and operations responsibilities; and (c) identifies and categorizes the use of current and emerging freight data sources for urban and metropolitan freight management strategies; (2) a final report documenting the entire project, incorporating all other specified deliverables of the research; (3) a PowerPoint presentation, with talking points, of the guidance that can be tailored for specific audiences; (4) a video product to inform decisionmakers of the research outcomes; (5) a glossary of terms; (6) recommendations on needs and priorities for additional research; and (7) a stand-alone technical memorandum “Implementation of Research Findings and Products”.