Tech Talk! Data Visualization in Transportation: Communicating Transportation Findings and Plans

Communicating Transportation Findings and Plans: Charts, Renderings, and Interactive Visualizations

In November 2018, the NJDOT Bureau of Research hosted a half-day Tech Talk event, Data Visualization in Transportation, that highlighted recent research and examples of innovative data visualization methods used by state DOTs and MPOs.

The NJDOT Bureau of Research hosted a half-day Tech Talk event that highlighted research and featured innovative examples of data visualization methods in use by transportation agencies.  Five speakers discussed tools and resources that they use to create visualizations to connect with target audiences, and to provide information to their constituencies.  Select visualization tools in use by New Jersey's MPOs and innovative best practices being deployed at other State DOTs were featured.  Registration was full for the event which was held in the NJDOT Multipurpose Room on November 29, 2018.

Data visualization includes such applications as modeling, animation, simulation, and virtual reality. In 2006, through draft guidance for implementing provisions in the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: a Legacy for Users (SAFETY-LU), FHWA required states and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) to use visualization techniques in the development of transportation plans and programs to promote improved understanding on the part of the public, elected and appointed officials, and other stakeholders. Visualization applications allow planners, designers and engineers to communicate complex multidimensional information in a way that is comprehensible to a general audience in order to facilitate collaboration, resulting in more informed decisions, fewer delays, and more buy-in at each step of the design and project implementation processes. Visualizations can also improve understanding of the project among planners, designers, and engineers, improving cost effectiveness.

The first speaker, Nathan Higgins, is the author of Data Visualization Methods for Transportation Agencies, the summary document from his research conducted for the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP). Mr. Higgins’ presentation, “Data Visualization in Transportation: NJDOT,” discussed that written report and the associated website that provides guidance for the visualization process. He navigated the website to show examples of visualizations for transportation applications, chart types and software tools available, and data and style resources. He emphasized the importance of each visualization as a critical opportunity to communicate information, and noted that, although intensive work with data requires a specific skill set, visualizations are possible to create without elaborate tools and software.

Nathan Higgins, author of the NCHRP Report, Data Visualization Methods for Transportation Agencies, shared examples of effective visualizations used by state DOTs and other transportation agencies. The project website is an informative resource for transportation professionals interested in honing their skills in communicating ideas to an audience through illustrations and visualizations.

Attendees learned how such tools and best practices can be used to foster more effective involvement with the public and an agency's various customers. In his presentation, “Visualizing Your Project,” Matt Taylor, PE, Alabama DOT described various visualization methods, with an emphasis on reality mesh, renderings, photomatching, and animation to create 3D environments that bring transportation projects to life. He noted that 80 percent of Alabama DOT’s data visualizations are used at public hearings to help stakeholders understand projects and how they will fit into the community. He provided several examples, including one of a Divergent Diamond Interchange which creates a traffic pattern that is unfamiliar to most drivers. He developed a visualization that helped to explain the new traffic flow. He noted that visualizations can provide models for contractors to use in planning, and can be useful for catching design problems. In response to a question, he noted that there are often multiple conceptualizations over the design life of a project, for example, to present all the alternatives for a transportation project, and the details needed to support a preferred alternative, or to model the construction stages.

Nicholas Johnson from Nevada DOT explained how visualizations, including virtual reality simulations, are being used to build awareness and foster support by illustrating how completed projects may function and be experienced by affected communities.

Nick Johnson, PE, PMP, CPM, Nevada DOT presented on “Interactive Visualization,” which he described as an emerging, virtual-reality-based mode for visualizing transportation projects. The Interactive Visualization innovation is a peer-selected focus innovation for the AASHTO Innovation Initiative, which seeks out proven advancements in transportation technology to accelerate adoption by agencies nationwide. Mr. Johnson discussed the value of this technology for assisting interested parties in understanding a transportation project during the public engagement process. His agency’s outreach events have featured simulations and virtual reality. Mr. Johnson gave an example of a Native American community that was concerned that a noise wall would block the rising sun from their view, preventing them from knowing the time for worship. The visualization alleviated the community’s objections by demonstrating that the sunrise would not be blocked by the wall. He emphasized the importance of visual communication to Millennials and GenXers.

In response to questions about the cost of creating visualizations, the speakers responded that cost depends on the project location, complexity, and the detail required to communicate needed information to the target audience. Speakers noted that their agencies have two to three full-time employees to work intensively with data to create databases and visualizations. A small Complete Streets project that is not very complex may take two weeks to finish and larger transportation projects may require multiple visualizations over the course of the planning and construction stages. Mr. Johnson’s public involvement events have offered an opportunity to use a driving simulator and Virtual Reality goggles, available through a contractor, to help immerse stakeholders in the experience of a proposed project.

Representatives from two of New Jersey’s Metropolitan Planning Organizations spoke about the data visualization tools that they have created and made available to local agencies to assist in planning. In his presentation “Web Maps, Open Data, and more!,” Christopher Pollard, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Council, described the data that the MPO has compiled for use in making regional planning decisions. He underscored the importance of accurate and reliable geospatial data as the basis for visualizations, and the MPO’s use of ESRI GIS mapping software to communicate this data. He discussed the datasets and interactive maps available to all the agency’s constituents, and provided detail on Travel Monitoring and Philly Freight Finder. He mentioned that the initial development of the data required a significant investment of time in order to make the data accessible. He added that the MPO will take on a limited number of data visualization projects needed by their constituents.

Gabrielle Fausel, North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority presented on “Data Visualization in Transportation: GIS and Planning Tools at NJTPA,” and discussed NJTPA’s use of five visualization tools: ViZtools illustrates the various factors that support the Regional Transportation Plan; NOTIS shows how state and federal tax dollars are being invested in the transportation system in the NJTPA region; Freight Activity Locator provides an overview of goods movement activity in the region; County Profile Application, a mapping tool, provides county-level demographic data for the region; and Open Data Portal, which supplies publically available geospatial data. Ms. Fausel emphasized that the MPO made use of ESRI software that they had already purchased for other applications.

These speakers noted that they are always working to make the visualization process more efficient and enjoyable for the user. In response to an audience member’s question about how they deal with a tool that has incomplete or fuzzy data, they noted the need to: constantly update the data to look for the most complete information and to identify gaps; assess the data for reasonableness; request user feedback and provide references and disclaimers; and create visualizations of uncertainty in data. Before a tool is released to the public, there is internal testing, and a pilot test with a small external group. This is an iterative process, with trying and testing to develop useful tools.

Please see below for the presentations, as well as several simulation videos and links to data products that were presented during the event.

Resources

AASHTO Innovation Initiative, Interactive Visualization.

Alabama Department of Transportation Visualization Group.

Cambridge Systematics, Inc. Data Visualization Methods for Transportation Agencies.

Presentations

Nathan Higgins, AICP, Cambridge Systematics, Inc., Data Visualization in Transportation

Matt Taylor, PE, Alabama DOT, Visualizing Your Project

Nick Johnson, PE, PMP, CPM, AASHTO, Interactive Visualization

Christopher Pollard, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Council, Web maps, Open Data, and More!

Gabrielle Fausel, North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority, Data Visualization in Transportation: GIS and Planning Tools at NJTPA

20th Annual NJDOT Research Showcase

The 20th Annual NJDOT Research Showcase was an opportunity for the New Jersey transportation community to learn about the broad scope of academic research initiatives underway and share technology transfer activities being conducted by institutions of higher education partners and their associates.  The annual event serves as a showcase to present the ongoing initiatives and benefits of the NJDOT Research program. NJDOT Commissioner of Transportation, Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, delivered a keynote address that included remarks on innovation, noting the importance of fostering an organizational workplace culture that is conducive to risk-taking and learning from past mistakes to advance innovative solutions in transportation.

The morning's featured speakers included representatives of the Ray C. Anderson Foundation which funds "The Ray," an 18-mile stretch of Interstate 85 in western Georgia. This highway segment is an ambitious proving ground for how the highways of the future can be free of carbon, waste, traffic and accidents. Highways currently dominate the American landscape, and design of “The Ray” is based on the belief that, with the adoption of the right technologies, highways can become models for environmentally and economically sustainable practices.  For example, in addition to leveraging solar power to contribute to the energy grid, the Ray is focused on demonstrating technologies that could decarbonize the highway system, such as harvesting wind energy created by heavy trucks and growing perennial wheat that sequesters carbon.  See this overview video about "The Ray."

During the event, several awards were given in recognition of research, innovation and implementation efforts.  Below is a listing of the award winners presented at this year's showcase:

  • 2018 NJDOT Research Implementation Award - Dr. John R. Schuring and Dr. Robert Dresnack (Scour Evaluation Model Implementation Phase)
  • 2018 Best Poster Award - Weina Meng (Stevens Institute of Technology for Design and Performance of Cost Effective UHPC for Transportation Infrastructure)
  • 2018 NJDOT Build a Better Mousetrap Award - Crew 333 (The Rocovitz Post Pusher & Post Pulller)
  • 2018 Outstanding University Student in Transportation Research Award - Jingnan Zhao (Rutgers University)

The Build a Better a Mousetrap Award, for the Roncovitz Post Pusher and Post Puller, was given to NJDOT Crew 333 which devised a way to put posts in the ground without using a sledge hammer and pounding cap. The approach is a very efficient way to handle placement of post stubs while reducing the risk of injury.

The 20th Annual NJDOT Research Showcase was organized and sponsored by the NJDOT Bureau of Research in partnership with the New Jersey Local Technical Assistance Program (NJLTAP) at Rutgers Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT) and co-sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration.

Below are some of the presentations and other information from the 20th Annual NJDOT Research Showcase. All the files below are in PDF.

20th Annual NJDOT Research Showcase Program

NJ Transportation Research Ideas

Capital Program Management

90 Minute Rule: Is It Time For A Change?

Planning, Multimodal and Grant Administration

Field Study on Removal of Dissolved Metals from Parking Lot Runoff by Catch-basin Filters Augmented with Media Containing Water Treatment Residuals

New Jersey Marine Channel Usage Research and Analysis

Evaluating the Impact of Activated Carbon on the Engineered Properties of Cement-Stabilized Contaminated Dredged Sediment

Go Bus: A Job Access Link

Transportation Operations Systems & Support

Analysis of Incident Injury Severity on NJ Roadways

Calibration / Development of Safety Performance Functions for New Jersey

Use of Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) in Transportation Operations

Poster Presentations

Validation of Paratransit Skills Assessment for Using Paratransit Services

Design and Performance of Cost-Effective Ultra-High-Performance Concrete (UHPC) for Transportation Infrastructure

Fiber Optic Sensors for Real-time Monitoring of Civil Infrastructure

Keynote from NJDOT Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti

Allie Kelly, Executive Director of "The Ray"

Accepting the Better Mousetrap Award on behalf of Crew 333, James Nunn, Crew Supervisor and Ronald Dagostino with Assistant Commissioners Michael Russo and Andrew Tunnard

Audience members at the 20th Annual NJDOT Research Showcase

Poster Award Recipient Weina Meng: Design and Performance of Cost-Effective Ultra-High Performance Concrete for Transportation Infrastructure

Tech Talk! Data Visualization in Transportation

Join NJDOT Bureau of Research for a Tech Talk event!

Communicating Transportation Findings and Plans: 
Charts, Renderings, and Interactive Visualizations

This half-day Tech Talk event will highlight research and feature innovative examples of data visualization methods in use by transportation agencies. Speakers will discuss recent research conducted for the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) and introduce tools and resources for creating visualizations that connect with their target audiences.

Select visualization tools in use by New Jersey's MPOs and innovative best practices being deployed at other State DOTs will be featured. Attendees should walk away inspired by how such tools and best practices are being used to foster more effective involvement with the public and the agency's various customers.

Speakers will include:

  • Nathan Higgins, author of Data Visualization Methods for Transportation Agencies
  • Mike Ruane, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Council (DVRPC)
  • Gabrielle Fausel, North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA)
  • Matt Taylor, PE, Alabama DOT
  • Nick Johnson, PE, PMP, CPM, Nevada DOT

Update: This is a free event, but registration is now full.  We have a waiting list in the event of registrant cancellations. Please register at: https://njdotdataviz.eventbrite.com

Date: November 29, 2018
Time: 9:00 am - 12:30 pm
Location: NJ DOT Headquarters Multipurpose Room
1035 Parkway Avenue, Ewing, NJ 08618

DVRPC Ridescore


Helicopter virtual reality

2018 NJDOT TRB Roundtable Discussion

Below you can view 2018 presentations and session notes provided by NJDOT staff who attended the 97th Annual Meeting of Transportation Research Board (TRB), which is grouped by their bureau or unit. You can also download the entire set of presentations here: 2018 NJDOT TRB Roundtable Slides. The TRB AMOnline portal provides access to all available TRB papers and presentation slides and visual aids.

Introduction to TRB (326 KB, 11 slides)

Traffic Operations Notes (622 KB, 38 slides)

  • Automated Vehicles Symposium 2017 (Session 129)
  • Mobility of the Future Session (Session 203)
  • Regional Transportation Systems Management & Operations (RTSMO) Committee, Connected and Automated Vehicles Working Group (AHB10)
  • After Hurricanes (Session 191)
  • Physical Security Sub-committee Meeting
  • CyberSecurity Sub-committee Meeting
  • Cybersecurity Challenges for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles: Fact vs. Myth (Session 592)
  • Maintenance and Operations Workforce: Assessing the Effects of Technology and Demographics (Session 285)
  • Diets, Diamonds, and Daring New Ideas for Intersections (Session 547)
  • Vision Zero Evaluation Workshop (Session 881)
  • Next Steps in Automated Vehicles
  • Advanced Traffic Signal Performance Measure (ATSPMs)
  • Innovation in Control Delay Calculation
  • Work Zone Lane Capacity (Session 451)
  • Proactive Signal Control Systems for Congestion Mitigation on Arterial

Notes from TRB Focus Area: Connected and Autonomous Vehicles

Statewide Planning Notes (2 MB, 63 slides)

  • Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, which includes an overview of AV state legislation and developing a connected AV vision and notes on the following sessions:
    • Metropolitan Policy Considerations for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (Part 1) (Session 265)
    • Impacts of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles on Transportation Forecasting and Planning (Session 271)
    • The Future of Transportation Infrastructure: What? Where? How? (Session 329)
    • Planning for a Future with Autonomous and Connected Vehicles (Session 406)
  • Smart Transportation: Getting Organized (Session 471)
  • International Progress Toward Vehicle-Highway Automation (Session 546)

Bureau of Research Notes (3.3 MB, 43 slides)

  • Optimizing Work Zone Lighting (Session 384)
  • Roundabout Topics: Safety, Design and Operations (Session 777)
  • Evaluation of different paints systems for over-coating exiting structural steel, Corrosion Committee (AHD45)
  • Vision Zero at a Crossroads: Identifying Challenges and Developing Partnerships to Eliminate Traffic Deaths in the United States (Session 477)
  • Competing Visions of Transportation’s Future (Session 268)
  • The Future of Transportation and Reliance on Knowledge Sharing Among Transportation Organizations (Session 461)
  • Humanizing Highway Landscape Design (Session 537)
  • Tools for the Zombie Apocalypse: Avoiding the Brain Drain in Transportation Organizations (Session 661)

Notes from TRB Session 777: Roundabout Safety, Design & Operations

Multimodal Notes (1.4 MB, 8 slides)

  • Aero Sessions:
    • Unmanned Aircraft Systems (Session 237)
    • Stating the Initiative: Aviation Programs, Funding, Support, and Development Among States (Session 372)
    • Current Trends in Aviation System Planning: System Performance and Resiliency (Session 563)
    • Essential Elements for Airport Operations: Pavement Repair, Aircraft Arresting and Anti-Icing (Session 628)
  • Maritime Sessions:
    • Where to Go with Transportation Taxes? Past evidence and future visions (Session 260)
    • Emerging Technologies: The role of LIDAR and Unmanned Aerial Systems in supporting the transportation spatial information infrastructure (Session 263)
    • Transportation Agency Data Governance and Open Data Efforts (Session 337)
    • Freight Systems and Marine Transportation Work in Progress (Session 368)
    • Marine Safety and Human Factors Committee Meeting
    • A Comparison of Existing and Potential Ferry Services in Norway, Australia, and Washington, D.C. (Session 501)
    • Freight Day, Part 1: Making Short-Haul Intermodal Work (Session 504)
    • Improving Ferry Operations and Planning with Digital Information (Session 559)

 

Notes from TRB Session 598: Technological Advances in Road Ecology Science

Environmental Resources Notes (2 MB, 27 slides)

  • Climate Change Response: Where Are We Now and What Happens Next? (Session 331)
  • Environmental Justice AASHTO Community of Practice, TERI Database, EJ Courses
  • Decarbonization & Greenhouse Gas Reductions: Progress, Priorities, and Research Needs (Session 466)
  • Technological Advances in Road Ecology Science (Session 598)
  • What’s Hot in State DOTs (Session 342)
  • Increasing Infrastructure Resilience through Bioenhancement (Session 629)
  • Virtual or Augmented Reality (Session 205)

Civil Rights & Affirmative Action Notes (5.3MB, 48 slides)

  • Revenue and Finance: The Uncertainty of Funding
  • Environmental Justice in Transportation Committee
  • Community Impact Assessment Committee Meeting
  • DBE Program
  • The Interstate: Mitigating Past and Current Project Impacts (Session 269)

“Mending the Divide” — Notes from Session 269: The Interstate: Mitigating Past and Current Project Impacts

Capital Program Support Notes (2.5 MB, 11 slides)

  • Public Engagement for Crisis Situations (Session 157)
  • Environmental Justice in Transportation Committee
  • Planning Process and Environmental Justice (Session 805)
  • Joint Subcommittee on Community Impact Assessment

Structural Engineering Notes (740 KB, 7 slides)

  • Truck Size and Weight: What You Need to Know (Session 120)
  • Bridging the Gap Between Non-Destructive Evaluation and Structural Health Monitoring (Session 164)

19th Annual NJDOT Research Showcase

The theme for the 19th Annual NJDOT Research Showcase was “Innovation in Transportation Mobility” and the event provided an opportunity for NJDOT customers to learn more about ongoing research initiatives, technology transfer activities, and academic research being conducted by university research partners and their associates.  The annual event serves as a showcase to present the ongoing initiatives and benefits of the NJDOT Research program. Several awards were given in recognition of research, innovation and implementation efforts, including: outstanding university student in  transportation award to a student involved with a NJDOT sponsored research project and an annual implementation award, among others.

Student researchers answer questions about their work

In addition to providing a glimpse into research projects funded by NJDOT, inspirational projects sponsored by other organizations are also invited for presentation. The Research Showcase included a general session in the morning featuring Jim Shurbutt, from FHWA’s Exploratory Advanced Research Program at Turner-Fairbank’s Highway Research Center as well as presentation that highlighted recent successes of NJDOT’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) program including a NJDOT-sponsored UAS peer exchange. The day’s events included afternoon topical breakout sessions and a poster display area. The event was attended by 250 NJDOT, NJ Transit, MVC, FHWA, local government, consultant and academic representatives.

The 19th Annual NJDOT Research Showcase was hosted by the New Jersey Local Technical Assistance Program (NJ LTAP) at Rutgers Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT) on behalf of the event sponsors NJDOT Bureau of Research and the Federal Highway Administration.

Below are several presentations and other information from the 19th Annual NJDOT Research Showcase. All the files listed below are in PDF.

Michael Russo, Assistant Commission, Capital Investment, Planning, and Grant Administration, and Amanda Gendek, Manager, Bureau of Research

19th Annual NJDOT Research Showcase Program

Keynote Presentation: The Exploratory Search for Innovation and Mobility (3 MB)
Jim Shurbutt, Exploratory Advanced Research Program Coordinator, FHWA Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center

Environment
Infrastructure

250 NJDOT, NJ Transit, MVC, FHWA, local government, consultant and academic representatives attended the 19th Annual NJDOT Research Showcase Program

Multimodal/ITS
Safety

 

 

18th Annual NJDOT Research Showcase

On behalf of the NJDOT Bureau of Research, the New Jersey Local Technical Assistance Program (NJ LTAP) at Rutgers’ Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT) invites NJDOT staff and customers to come learn about research and technology transfer activities being conducted by university research partners and their associates at the 18th Annual NJDOT Research Showcase. The Showcase took place on October 26, 2016.

The 19th Annual NJDOT Research Showcase will be held on October 25, 2017.

Below is a list of presentations from the 18th Annual NJDOT Research Showcase. All the files listed below are in PDF.

Environment

Green Sorbent Media for Mitigation of Urban Road Runoff Pollution (3.7MB)

General

An Overview of U.S. DOT’s Multi-modal Research (1.7MB)

TRB Overview (3.2m)

Infrastructure

Center for Research and Education in Advanced Transportation Engineering Systems (CREATEs) (3.7MB)

Performance-Related Mix Design and Balanced Mix Design (5.1MB)

State of Practice for the Design of Bridge Fender Systems with Polymeric Materials (1.2MB)

Mobility

Personal Intersection Speed Advisory System (PISAS) (1.6MB)

The Use of Technology Enabled Rideshare Services in New Jersey: An Examination of Uber Usage in the Garden State(6.8MB)

Safety

Truck Side Guards (2.8MB)

Truck Side Guards Specifications (343KB)

Virtual Guide Dog: The Next Generation Pedestrian Signal for the Visually Impaired (1.6MB)