Creating a Real-Time Traveler Information System

Oct 29, 2013 Transportation & Infrastructure

First the bad news. An application to U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to provide funds for developing a comprehensive regional travel information system plan, with PennDOT as lead applicant, supported by the DOTs of OH, WV, and MD, was unsuccessful.

The good news is that Traffic21 of CMU, which was recently named one of only five National University Transportation Centers by U.S. DOT, will proceed to develop a prototype using federal and foundation funding. The creation of a travel information system to provide real-time information to enable modal and route choices for people and freight is a key initiative of the Power of 32 being lead by CMU's Traffic 21.

According to Rick Stafford of CMU's Traffic 21, the plan is to establish a Mobility Data Analytic Center, led by Dr. Zhen (Sean) Qian, research assistant professor, Heinz College, CMU.

The goal is to develop the capacity to not only present real-time information, but also to use real-time data to prepare and distribute predictive information about travel conditions, which it is believed will be both a significant advance in smart transportation technology, and the key to a system which will permit enhancement of freight movement.

"The initial focus," says Stafford, "will be to get possession of data, for a limited version of the region, and begin to demonstrate that we can supply the data for traveler information."

A second step is to determine if there is an organization to disseminate this information to the public. "Right now, points out Stafford, "there is not an organization that serves 32 counties to say here is a terrific system you could run that would bind the region together and supply added-value to travelers and the economy."