The primary objective of this study was to compile and review practices that state DOTs and MPOs have leveraged to acquire and use proprietary data. The focus is on those data generated by technologies such as GPS, mobile phones, or crowdsourced travel alerts.
Several approaches were used to gather information for the study. A comprehensive literature review was performed to look at past studies involving data procurement and to establish what types of data agencies have obtained and determine their uses. An online survey was designed to seek information on three major aspects of proprietary data:
- Data items acquired and applications
- Procurement method
- Use experience.
The survey was distributed to state DOTs via an email distribution list with the assistance of the AASHTO Data Management and Analytics Committee. For states that are not on the distribution list, the study team identified DOT personnel in the area of data management, planning, or operations through an online directory search. All 50 state DOTs were invited to participate in the survey. The survey was also distributed to 22 large MPOs with populations of more than 2.5 million. Forty-two (42) state DOTs and three MPOs responded to the survey or participated in phone interviews. Of those states that responded, 79 percent indicated that they have acquired at least one proprietary data set. The research team also interviewed state DOT staff from Ohio, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Kentucky—as well as staff from the Atlanta Regional Commission in Georgia—to gain detailed knowledge on agency practices and perspectives on procuring and using these data.
The survey respondents and interviewees identified several barriers and concerns associated with obtaining and using proprietary data and shared their perspectives and practices as they relate to these concerns.
The large size of crowdsource data sets pose challenges to agencies' legacy data-management systems. Agencies should invest IT infrastructure including computing, storage, and management capabilities and upgrade staff skills to handle big data.
Respondents and interviewees recommended the following:
- Involve agency IT and data analysts in the procurement process.
- Consider open source, off-the-shelf tools for data processing needs.