Big Data in Transport

Standardisation and Interoperability

By Sam Watkins, Senior Data Scientist, Transport Systems Catapult

In the context of the second Mobility4EU workshop on Novel and Innovative Solutions, relevant topics and new perspectives on possible innovative transport solutions were discussed. Big Data will play a central role on the future transportation. Mobile communication sensor networks, cloud computing and the new technologies and methods for data analysis referred to as big data enable smart mobility.

Data is central to all transport sectors (road, rail, aviation, maritime), with data size and complexity ever increasing. Where data is released (by private, public, or governmental organisations) for wider consumption it is often not required to adhere to any particular standards or specifications. This makes interoperability between varying data sets difficult. It is expected that building upon initial data standards that currently exist — data interoperability, uptake, and innovation may improve.

Current Data Standardisation Initiatives

The European Union (EU) has commissioned work to establish some standardisation across datasets collected by local authorities. The INPSIRE directive provides an infrastructure to encourage spatial data sharing across local authorities within the Europe. Moreover, other data standardisation frameworks exist which focus on a specific transport sector (e.g. road only; ROSATTE). Of interest is whether a simple and general data standardisation framework which is applicable to all transport organisation types and all transport sectors would provide benefit to the wider transport community.

Future Data Standardisation Framework Requirements

With a view to enabling multi-modal travel and mobility as a service consideration should be given to those data variables which are collected across a number of transport sectors. It is important to also consider the ease in which these standards can be implemented, ultimately data standards would be employed by all transport data producers, from large businesses, to start ups, and local authorities. Some of these organisation types may not have in-house data expertise which may preclude them from implementing complex data specifications and schemas. As such, a simple and employable data standardisation framework should be considered which is applicable to all transport sectors and implementable by all organisation types.

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