By: Laura Schewel on August 29th, 2016

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StreetLight Contributes to US DOT Road Safety Initiative

Big Data | Transportation

As someone who has worked in transportation for my entire career, I was angry and upset when I learned US traffic fatalities in 2015 rose by 7.2%. These statistics show that, despite tremendous innovation in mobility technology in the past year – from automated vehicle testing to new materials to ridesharing to electrification – we are failing to make America’s roads safer for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers alike.

In response, US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx has issued a powerful call-to-action: “Despite decades of safety improvements, far too many people are killed on our nation’s roads every year. Solving this problem will take teamwork, so we’re issuing a call to action and asking researchers, safety experts, data scientists, and the public to analyze the fatality data and help find ways to prevent these tragedies.” When I heard his call-to-action, I knew immediately that StreetLight Data would take part.

As a mobility analytics provider, StreetLight Data transforms trillions of geospatial records from mobile devices into useful Metrics that describe travel patterns. To support the DOT’s traffic safety initiative, we are supplying researchers with comprehensive Metrics for 40,000+ geotagged fatal crash locations across the US (as well as control locations if researchers create such a control set).

Specifically, we are offering the following Metrics free of cost to relevant researchers for each location (or “Zone” in our terminology) of interest until the end of 2017:

  • Our Zone Activity Analysis Metrics, which describe the relative volume of personal, heavy-duty commercial, and medium-duty commercial motorized trips as well as the relative volume of non-motorized trips that pass-through the Zone;
  • Our Trip Attribute Metrics, which include the average trip length, travel time, circuitry for all motorized trips, as well as a distribution of these values;
  • Our Traveler Attribute Metrics, which show demographic characteristics and simple trip purpose data for all motorized trips.
  • Trips can be analyzed by three different types of day (weekend, weekday, and average day) as well as by day parts (one to four-hour time periods).

I’m certain these variables alone can’t answer all the questions about why the increase in fatalities has been so sharp recently. But together with other data sources and good research, I hope we can start to approach an understanding of what has changed for the worse on our roads in the past few years.

Daniel Morgan, Chief Data Officer for DOT, told us, “Secretary Foxx and the rest of us at US DOT are excited to see what data scientists and researchers will do with the information that’s being made available in response to the release of the 2015 roadway fatalities data. It’s our hope that input from companies like StreetLight Data and others can help us find new insights about how to address the sharp increase in fatal crashes.

We couldn’t agree more. Our goal is to help researchers better understand and contextualize the underlying causes of the rise in fatalities. We look forward to the results of their analysis – and we hope that it leads to safer roads nation-wide.

We will provide our Metrics to project participants via StreetLight InSight®, our easy-to-use web application that allows users to independently set up, customize, and run Metrics that meet their specific project needs; additionally, we will deliver StreetLight InSight csv files and visualizations to researchers as needed.

If you’re interested in participating and would like access to StreetLight Data’s Travel Metrics for your traffic safety research project, please click here to contact us.   

INRIX, a StreetLight Data partner, provides GPS data for this StreetLight InSight Metrics. 


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