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TRB Conference on Performance and Data
in Transportation Decision Making

September 15 – 18, 2019
Atlanta, Georgia


Conference Overview

The TRB Conference on Performance and Data in Transportation Decision Making will bring practitioners and research professionals together from a wide array of backgrounds and organizations to explore the methods, practice and tools of data-driven decision-making in an interactive and engaging forum. Attendees will include representatives of federal, state and local transportation agencies, universities as well as non-profit and private sector organizations.  

Call for Presentation Topics

Conference organizers are seeking proposed topics of presentation focused within four major topical themes or “tracks”, described below.  Persons interested in presenting material should prepare brief descriptions of no more than 300 words of a single presentation, demonstration*, or interactive activity on a specific topic. Conference organizers are particularly interested in presentation formats that include audience participation and engagement. Presentation content may include any aspect related to the use of performance measures and data to inform and drive decisions in policy, planning, programming, systems operations and project level decisions. Presenters should focus their discussions around one of the following four topic areas.

*Proposed presentations and demonstrations may not be commercial in nature or focused on a specific branded process, tool or product.

Track 1: Multimodal Planning This track will focus on the use of performance measures and data to inform the evaluation and decision making of multimodal approaches to long-range, corridor and project plans and planning processes. In particular, the track organizers are interested in practical and policy discussions that address the following considerations and challenges:

  • Integration of multimodal planning goals into plans and planning processes – How has the planning context changed to accommodate a multimodal planning framework? Specifically, how have the policy and performance goals and evaluation criteria for long range, corridor and project plans changed? What data and/or methods were necessary to be successful in informing multimodal decisions and tracking performance across modes?
  • Multimodal performance evaluation methods and metrics - What performance evaluations, metrics and methods are being adopted, tested or implemented to address multimodal transportation performance challenges such as accessibility, reliability and resiliency? These may include federally required and agency specific performance priorities. What data sources and tools support the project evaluation and the decision-making process?
  • Organizational structure and collaboration - How did the structure of your organization change to align the transportation planning process with outcome-based performance expectations?  What changed and how has this impacted how your state/regional approaches investments and decision-making for the transportation system?
  • External partnerships - What new partnerships have been established to advance integrated, performance-based planning?  How have these changes affected State DOT – MPO – transit agency relationships and collaborations? Lessons learned, both good and bad, are desired.

Track 2: Performance and Data This track will focus on the sources and uses of data to measure progress against performance goals and benchmarks at a systems, corridor, or project level.

  • Novel uses of data - Transportation agencies are often called “data rich but information poor.” Performance-based management requires data that are collected by different entities, for different purposes, and are managed in disparate systems. How are transportation agencies combining data to create performance measures that inform decisions?  What skills do organizations need to accomplish this, and how are they ensuring their staff have the right competencies?
  • Are outputs outcomes?  Because of the difficulty of measuring performance outcomes, agencies often fall back on measuring outputs. When are output- and outcome-measures most appropriate? What strategies can be used to move past “what we have” to “what we want?”  
  • Improving data quality through data governance.  This explores the experience of agencies in implementing data governance, promoting data interoperability and data sharing with internal and external stakeholders. Have agency policies improved data quality and decisions?
  •  When Opinion Becomes Data - What is the role of crowdsourcing, surveys and social media in assessing public opinion with respect to transportation system performance? How are transportation agencies using this as a data source to plan and program repairs, investment and service? What are some of the benefits and barriers to using public opinion as a source of performance data? 
  • Data analytics and forecasting - Can data be your crystal ball? Transportation organizations collect and report volumes of data, but often times a lack of access and interoperability across an enterprise make analysis of data across an organization difficult to perform. How are transportation agencies overcoming these obstacles and using predictive analytics to guide decision making?  How are they recruiting and/or training their workforce to have the competencies needed to conduct this analysis?
  • Using Private Data – Agencies are increasingly purchasing or using data collected by private companies to inform planning and programming decisions and to evaluate performance. What are the limitations and benefits of using private data by a public sector agency?

Track 3: Programming and Investment Prioritization - This track will focus on the use of performance goals, metrics and data to inform capital project prioritization and decision-making, including programming projects in the STIP, Metropolitan TIP or agency capital program

  • State of the Nation – Which states, MPOs or transit systems have successful data-driven project selection processes, how did they come to be, and which modes of transportation are they for?  
  • Balancing data-driven decision-making with political reality – How are agencies who have successfully implemented or are in the process of implementing data-driven decision-making systems balancing the need for performance transparency and politics.  
  • Getting into the details – What data/metrics are being used to evaluate projects, either within or across different modes of transportation?  
  • Achieving the goals of the federal performance measures – How have federal performance measures had an impact on project selection? What processes, tools and methods have agencies put in place for integrating performance measures in project selection to achieve intended goals? 
  • Selecting true multimodal / intermodal projects – How have agencies used performance measures and data to select and fund integrated projects that benefit multiple modes (including private industry and freight)?  
  • Tools and technology – What tools and software applications are being used to implement the project selection processes?

Track 4: Communications and Stakeholder Engagement - This track will explore and illustrate effective approaches for engaging stakeholders in setting goals, making informed decisions, and achieving results. 

  • Setting Goals:  When and how can agencies engage stakeholders effectively in the process of establishing goals and objectives, selecting performance measures and setting targets?  How can practitioners reflect qualitative input in setting and monitoring quantitative targets? What are some successful techniques for balancing competing interests or resolving conflicting demands?   
  • Making Informed Decisions:  Presentations should demonstrate visualization tools and narrative techniques for communicating complex technical issues with stakeholders and non-technical audiences to facilitate informed judgements and useful deliberation on investment and policy decisions? What types of contextual information and qualitative concerns should accompany quantitative data in order to make it meaningful to different audiences? How can planners convey trade-offs between conflicting goals, or potential negative consequences of achieving desired targets?  How are public agencies successfully communicating the implementation of data-driven decision-making processes?  
  • Achieving Results:  How can agencies boost the potential for achieving goals by engaging stakeholders strategically? What can we learn from case studies of successful partnerships or collaborative initiatives to set and achieve targets for system performance indicators such as reduced multimodal crash rates or improved multimodal levels of service, and related outcomes such as reduced exposure to health risks or increased equitable access to jobs and essential services?

How to Submit an Abstract

All abstracts should be submitted by March 1, 2019, should be no longer than 300 words and should clearly convey the material that will be presented and any additional information about format or audience participation, as appropriate.  Abstracts must be submitted electronically 

Questions?  Please contact Jennifer L. Weeks

All conference participants will be required to register. Registration information and fees will be available on TRB's Calendar website in early 2019.