Facebook knows how you will vote in the next election. Amazon knows when you are about to run out of toner. Google knows the best bike and transit route from here to there. But chances are your transportation planner probably doesn’t know what roads have speeding problems, which intersections are most dangerous, and where there is latent demand for more bicycle parking.
When the Walk/Bike/Places conference convenes in New Orleans this September 16–19, one of the questions we will examine is how to make data more accessible to the public and more applicable to transportation decision-making. We are currently seeking experts to help us investigate the following questions:
- What datasets are most relevant to transportation planning? How can you find state, regional and local data on transit ridership, vehicle miles traveled, parking citations, speeding citations, traffic crashes, crime, housing, and air quality? How can you extract useful information from the US Census, BRFSS, American Community Survey, FARS, and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics? What are the questions these data can and can’t answer?
- What are your options when datasets are incomplete or missing? Third party datasets from Waze, Strava, and transportation network companies can help fill the information void. These sources can also provide valuable insight on origin/destination and route preference. What are the benefits and limitations of using these sources? Are there cost-effective ways to collect your own data?
- What is the case for open data? Public agencies should be transparent and accountable, but making information public is not without its costs. Agencies must invest in personnel, training and IT infrastructure to keep data current and useful. What are the benefits to improving your agency’s data literacy? What is an API and how might it benefit your customers?
- What the limitations and dangers of relying on data to make decisions? Insights generated from data are only as good as the quality of the underlying data. Some datasets may lag present day by months or years making it difficult to spot trends. How can we ensure that data-driven decisions don’t consolidate or reinforce privilege?
Does your agency or organization have expertise working with data to improve service, efficiency and quality-of-life? If so, please join us and share your experience by applying to present at Walk/Bike/Places 2018. Begin your application here and when promoted select ‘Breakout Session Panelist’ and ‘Data’ as your topic. (Please, no apps.)
Submit your proposal by 8 pm Eastern, February 2, 2018 to be considered for the program.
Helpful links and information:
- data.gov — home of the U.S. Government’s open data
- Open Data — Esri’s data repository of public datasets
- Periodic Table of Open Data Elements — important screening questions for any open data project
- “Crowdsourcing Pedestrian and Cyclist Activity Data” — a white paper by the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center
- ProPublica’s Data Store — publicly accessible datasets on housing, education, transportation, health, and other topics
- DIY Traffic Counter — missing data? Collect your own!
- “An Introduction to the American Community Survey”— how to work with the definitive demographic dataset
- “How We Calculated the Risks of Walking While Black” — ProPublica deconstructs the data it used and its methods for finding meaningful relationships between variables.
Walk/Bike/Places is North America’s largest active transportation and placemaking conference. Data are only one of many topics that will be addressed by our conference program. For more details about our Call for Proposals and conference outcomes, please visit www.walkbikeplaces.org/proposals. The deadline for all proposals is 8 pm Eastern, February 2, 2018.
For information about becoming a conference sponsor or exhibitor please contact email@example.com. For the latest news follow us at Walk/Bike/Places. Walk/Bike/Places was established in 1980 and is produced by Project for Public Spaces.
Yes, we know the proper spelling is ‘bytes’ but then the joke doesn’t work as well.