The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC), a metropolitan planning organization (MPO), has developed several interactive mapping applications to support planning and improve decision-making in the Greater Philadelphia Region. This case study introduced use of DVRPC to promote traffic data sharing with the public and other state, county, and local governments through one of these applications, called Traffic Count Viewer, which provides open access to different types of short-duration traffic counts. DVRPC collects different types of travel data through surveys and counts (e.g., traffic counts in 5,000 locations), and uses them as input for their Traffic Count Viewer. This application allows users to view geographic features, query selective data sets, create custom maps, and access detailed reports about certain features. DVRPC can present geospatial information to the public without requiring special geographic information system (GIS) software. The Traffic Count Viewer was first developed in 2009 and updated in 2016 to add plugins and open source code to be transferable to other agencies.
The implementation of the Traffic Count Viewer offered lessons learned regarding traffic data collection, data sharing, and web development for public agencies and stakeholders. Most key insights are related to the data limitations and consideration of public’s opinions in the application:
Traffic Data Collection
- Consider ways to collect data once with elements that meet the evolving needs of different users.
- Gather traffic data from various sources and create a central data repository while making sure the data meet the needs of as many users and agency functions as possible.
- Open-source code technologies and data libraries to develop tools that can have multiple end-users within and outside the organization are suggested. An open-source approach allows individuals to expand functionality by modifying the open-source code or adding online plugins, offers a collaborative environment and is transferrable to other agencies.
Tool Development and Implementation
- Involve all data users from various business areas and consider the needs and preferences of different agency functions. This helps secure broad buy-in and support.
- Having people with a background in key technology and knowledge domains can benefit tool development and implementation (e.g., people with a background in GIS and database administration for developing a public map tool).
- Foster willingness to change existing systems and business practices, learning how to use new technologies, and adapting to new, fast-evolving environments.
- Relate the costs for data collection and management to the hidden cost of not having data or a data warehouse. Inform managers and executives on cost savings and other benefits achieved through more efficient processes.