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I’d like to personally commend the ITE’s leadership in discussing the future of trip generation data and encouragement to gathering urban trip person data moving forward. I hope this is a fruitful endeavour and I hope that the ITE doesn’t lose sight of other technological opportunities during this process, such as the TripChain project.

This article is a response to the ITE Statement on the Future Direction of Trip Generation and Advances in Urban Trip Generation articles presented in the recent ITE Journal, July 2016, p. 16-19.  More specifically, this response is to the “Steps Forward” section of the latter article and discusses how the TripChain project is positioned to contribute to accomplishing those steps forward in the industry.

Full disclosure – I am involved in the development of the TripChain project, therefore I am a huge advocate for its adoption. This being said, we are in the process of validating the potential for blockchain technology in the transportation industry and believe adopting trip generation data to this platform would benefit users as a whole.

Responses to the “Steps Forward” bullets from the ITE Journal are as follows:

Encourage continued collection of urban residential and office person trip data and identify priority land uses for the next round of data collection (e.g., retail, hotel, school).

TripChain has the ability to handle both urban person trip data and conventional vehicle trip data, traditionally published in the ITE Trip Generation Manual.  This is all dependant on the data structures defined for trip data points.  It would be ideal for the ITE to lead and/or the transportation industry agree upon electronic data standards/schemas to make data collection and dissemination consistent.

While it is helpful to put out a “call for data” for priority land uses lacking sufficient trip generation data points, the TripChain project recommends moving to more of a “continuous data collection” outlook as opposed to “rounds of data collection”, which is more consistent with trends using big data for real time application.

Encourage engagement and collaboration between public agencies, private entities, professional associations (especially ITE), and in general anyone that uses trip generation data to share and discuss findings, implications, and desired outcomes.

Providing a common trip generation data set through blockchain technology and the TripChain framework/network would go far to encourage engagement and collaboration  between various industry parties.  When everyone is on the same page, having the exact same data set in front of them, it is easier to collaborate and draw conclusions.

The objective of TripChain is not to supplant the ITE Trip Generation Manual, however relying on a singular authority as a centralized clearing house for data is no longer sufficient in a world with big data needs. Why can’t public agencies, private entities, and other professional organizations curate their own authoritative datasets from a common pool of data points?  This, in a nutshell, is what TripChain enables.

TripChain distributes new data within a common, distributed database in near-real-time to all interested industry parties whereby individual authorities can “approve” new data as they see fit.  If an end user trusts a certain authority for aggregated trip generation rates, this authority can be cited and utilized for analysis.

Encourage the exploration and publication of alternative resources (data, methods, technology) that complement or extend trip generation data and practices.

This point could be interpreted as endorsing new technologies, such as the TripChain framework/network. The TripChain project is intended to complement trip generation data and practices by providing:

  • A common industry dataset of disaggregated trip generation data points, accessible to all;
  • A distributed peer-to-peer database solution, meaning no single entity owns or controls the data (i.e. TripChain iteself is open source and non-competitive);
  • A standard database schema to enforce the integrity of submitted data; and
  • A framework intended to build applications on top of for data analysis (such as OTISS).

Coupled with ITE trip generation data, open-source data (such as TripGeneration.Org), and integration with data collection services (such as MioVision and CountingCars), the TripChain framework/network can become a powerful tool for the industry to hold disaggregated data.

Assess the level of importance or priority for collecting additional types of data (e.g., trip length, pass-by) at urban sites.

While not a priority for the TripChain project in its early stages, once the project is validated by industry practitioners, additional types of data and schemas could be added to leverage the usefulness of TripChain.

Undertake further analysis and expansion of trip generation relationships.

This is a laudable action by the ITE and one that needs more exploration in the transportation industry.  However, under the current scheme of a closed-system database, this makes it difficult to open up data for analysis by third-parties, such as educational institutions. Perhaps we might see some additional insight into trip generation relationships when more eyes can examine the data relationships?

The nature of the TripChain concept allows open access to the entirety of trip generation data by educational institutions.  By hosting a node on the TripChain network, an educational institution adds data security to the network and benefits from access and analysis of trip generation data.  From here, more detailed study on trip generation data can be performed and technical papers written to provide the transportation industry with a better understanding of trip generation relationships and emerging trends.

Develop procedures for using data from comparable sites to predict trip generation in the development review process.

The only real solution here is access to a searchable database that allows for implementation of procedures to compare and aggregate individual data points.  This will allow comparable sites to be identified for trip generation in the development review process.

Again, TripChain would offer this ability through its inherent nature as an indelible peer-to-peer database.  Using that database as a backend, applications can be built on top of TripChain to implement data analysis procedures, such as those the ITE is implying.

Encourage the posting of all public-agency sponsored urban trip generation data on accessible websites and the submission of privately-collected data to ITE for inclusion in its growing person trip database.

This point is where the TripChain framework and network can solve a big challenge for the ITE community and transportation industry in general.  How many hundreds or even thousands of public-agency “accessible websites” might there be with trip generation data on it? How many data standards and formats would this entail? How much work would be required for the ITE to centrally access this data and pull it into their own databases? As an industry, we need to consider how this process can be streamlined – TripChain can help.

These are questions that have plagued many industries, however now through the emergence of blockchain technology and the TripChain framework/network this problem is now solved.  To see in more detail how, please read the TripChain whitepaper – however, briefly, TripChain allows the sharing of new trip generation data points in near-real-time and eliminates much of the wasted time an overhead in collecting data from multiple sources.  Data is also available in a common format, reducing overhead to standardize.  Instead, more focus can be put on data aggregation and analysis for industry application.

How do you feel the ITE’s Trip Generation “Steps Forward” should be addressed? Have you read about TripChain and it’s potential yet (see the introduction and whitepaper)? Please leave your comments.