Get Your Planning Problems Solved in Real Time

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What transportation problem is on your mind? Image: Melanie Curry/Streetsblog

Planners, engineers, and others working on a difficult, hard-to-solve problem have an opportunity to get help from a team of experienced planners and engineers. At January’s annual meeting in Washington DC of the Transportation Research Board (TRB), a new kind of workshop will bring together a group of experts to address “unsolved mysteries that vex planners, modelers, and analysts in the transportation field.”

The workshop, “Analyze This! What Planners Want to Know” will present three real-world problems faced by people working in transportation. Then teams will work together on a strategy to address each problem. The workshop is intended to get creative minds working together, to highlight different ways people approach problem solving, and to expose areas where research is needed.

The workshop is sponsored by four TRB committees: travel demand forecasting, transportation planning applications, public transportation, and transportation demand management. However, the problems don’t have to fall into these categories.

“Everything is on the table,” writes workshop coordinator Elizabeth Sall. “Not every question can be solved with running a travel model….. but let me at least say that since we will have a bunch of dataheads in the room, you might as well get them to solve problems [for which] data can at least be part of the solution.”

Problems can be general (how do driverless vehicles affect safety and the environment? how does transit reliability affect ridership and mode share?) or specific (how to test strategies for maintaining affordable housing while significantly increasing transit access?) or in between (how best to encourage bicycling and walking?). Any problem that would benefit from a team of planners and engineers—and dataheads—is welcome.

The submissions should summarize a case study, including information on the problem, its context, who is affected, and what is the impact of not reaching a resolution. The committee will choose three problems to work on, and people who submit ideas that are selected will be invited to present their problem at the TRB meeting.

The deadline for submissions is October 1, coming up soon. Submit your problems here.

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