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34 data support planning efforts for surveys, getting a "bigger USER ASSESSMENT OF DATA picture of what is moving," and allowing for off system data collection. Section 6 of the survey asked respondents to assess their data, whether sourced in-house or from external public or commercial databases. Respondents were also given the TABLE 23 opportunity to comment extensively in their assessments. Benefits of linking freight survey data with The results are summarized here. data from informatics Benefit Responses Assessment of Freight Data No benefits 0 Table 25 summarizes respondents' assessments of how well More cost-effective data collection 9 their freight data met their needs, which were expressed in Reduced need for surveys and other data col- 6 six categories. The table also notes the applicability of the lection efforts data to their activities. Key findings were as follows: Improved data validation/quality control 10 Increased accuracy/quality of data 10 Each of the six categories was applicable to respon- More comprehensive data 10 dents' needs, albeit to different degrees. Forecasting was the most applicable, at 37 citations (and four other Reduced delay between time of data collection 8 and when available for analysis respondents indicated that this category was not appli- cable). Investment decision making (31 citations), Other 3 cost-benefit analysis (30), and operational analysis (26) were next, followed by design and environmental Table 24 lists the barriers to linking freight survey data assessment (18 each). with data from informatics. Fifteen respondents cited an Most respondents indicated that the data met the needs insufficiency of capital resources to build the informatics adequately (63 citations). A smaller number indicated infrastructure, and this was common to several data sets. that the needs were met poorly (46 citations) or "good" (36 An insufficiency in technical knowledge was cited 8 times, citations). Eight described their needs as being met poorly and a lack of standards for design and operations was cited (three for cost-benefit analysis) and seven described the 7 times. Other barriers (cited once each) were insufficient data as being "very good" in meeting the needs. staffing, insufficient agency coordination, reluctance on the part of key partners to participate (in this case, a terminal Needed Improvements operator), and a combination of lack of funds, internal infor- mation technology limitations, and institutional issues. Table 26 lists the improvements that respondents believed were needed to address current deficiencies and gaps. The respondents ranked the listed improvements on a scale of TABLE 24 1 to 5 (most important to least important). The two most Barriers to linking freight survey data with important improvements identified were to provide more data from informatics detail (17 responses) and ensure that data are collected regu- Barrier Responses larly (14 responses). Other most important improvements Insufficient capital resources to build the included the collection of data that were not otherwise col- 15 lected, ensuring the timeliness of the data ("[should not use] informatics infrastructure Insufficient technical knowledge to imple- 2002 and 2005 data to make decisions in 2009, 2010 and 8 2011"), and management commitment and availability of ment or operate informatics Lack of standards for design and operation 7 capable staff. Insufficient staffing 4 Respondents also identified several benefits to hav- ing these improvements. Thirty respondents indicated that Finally, one agency noted that it was planning to use these improvements would provide them with new capabili- more informatics. However, another noted some practical ties, and 24 expected to benefit from improved productivity. limitations with the use of ITS data: "there [are] limited (Respondents were allowed to provide multiple answers to ITS data OR the quality is too low for the purpose of plan- this question.) Other specific improvements comprised bet- ning (i.e., Weigh-In-Motion data)," and a third respondent ter decisions and investments, faster identification of trends, noted that "additional Weigh-In-Motion equipment would better informed planning process, data that represent "what is be helpful, but [the] technology has not met field condition moving," [the identification of] economic opportunities, and requirements." more accurate freight counts and fees (one citation each).

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35 TABLE 25 Assessment of how well needs are met by freight data Applicable to Your Activities? Degree to Which Your Needs Are Met? Very Good Very Poor (not (exceeds your usable for your User Need Yes No requirements) Good Adequate Poor requirements) Forecasting 37 4 2 9 16 9 1 Cost-benefit Analysis 30 7 2 9 9 8 3 Operational Analysis 26 8 0 6 10 8 2 Design 18 11 2 1 8 5 1 Environmental Assessment 18 10 1 2 6 7 0 Investment Decision Making 31 5 0 9 14 9 1 Note: Responses from two different offices at the California DOT were included in this table. TABLE 26 Improvements needed to address deficiencies or gaps Frequency of Rank of Importance 1 (most 5 (least Improvement important) 2 3 4 important) Expand Sample Size 5 9 3 8 8 Expand Coverage 5 3 13 5 6 Expand Modes 8 3 8 7 6 Provide More Detail 17 9 2 4 4 Ensure Data Are Collected Regularly 14 9 3 5 2 Other 4 0 0 0 1 Note: Responses from two different offices at the California DOT were included in this table. Success Factors in Data Collection "Willingness" of participants (in this case, termi- nal operators) "to release accurate information" and Respondents identified several factors for success in their obtaining much needed private data to fill gaps. collection of freight data: Adequacy of the responses from the survey partici- pants. Also important was the "interest in the [freight] Adequacy of funding was the most dominant theme. community." Funding was needed "to pay for a sophisticated Level of specifics and detail in the responses. freight forecast product. Most MPOs do not have the Experience of the data collection team. resources." One respondent noted that freight data are Timeliness and currency of the data: "freight informa- "highly desired," so it has been able "to pay for what tion needs to be current due to the rapidly changing is out there." economic conditions." Prior knowledge and experience in the subject were cited as success factors, including "knowledge of sur- Expansion and Extension of Existing Data Collection vey techniques [and] knowledge of freight market" and "many years of experience in this type of data collec- Table 27 lists respondents' interest in expanding or extending tion, analysis and reporting." existing data collection, and also the priorities they assigned Appropriate planning of the data collection effort, to these plans. With the exception of traffic counts (28 cita- clarity in objectives ("focus on what problem needs tions), such plans were in the minority, although there was to be solved"), clarity "in the questions that can be strong interest in expanding personal interviews (16 cita- answered," and "asking the right questions." tions, compared with 17 that were not being expanded or Effective communications and "relationships" with the extended), focus and stakeholder groups (17 and 19 respec- survey participants. tively) and GPS vehicle tracking (11 and 16 respectively).

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36 TABLE 27 Interest in expanding or extending existing data collection Is the Existing Data Collection Effort Being Expanded? If Yes, Please Indicate Level of Priority Type of Survey/Data Yes No or N/A Low Moderate High Roadside/Intercept Survey 9 27 2 4 5 Combined Telephone Mail-out/ Mail-back 6 25 0 3 2 Survey Telephone Survey 5 25 2 2 1 Mail-out/Mail-back Survey 5 24 2 3 0 Personal Interviews 16 17 4 7 2 Internet Surveys 4 23 2 3 1 Focus and Stakeholder Groups 17 19 3 6 6 Administrative Data (e.g., insurance records) 3 23 1 0 1 Commercial Vehicle Trip Diaries (e.g., trip 5 22 2 1 2 logs) GPS Vehicle Tracking 11 16 4 3 3 License Plate Match--Manual 4 23 3 2 0 License Plate Match--Electronic 3 23 2 0 0 Traffic Counts 28 10 3 13 7 Problems with Existing Data and Most Important Cost relative to benefits: "why pay for large surveys Improvements when there are very limited funds to invest?" Data quality. One respondent cited the potential for Respondents were asked to list the main problems with underreporting as a problem: "The data [are] self-re- their existing data and to indicate what they saw as the most ported by terminal operators through an honor system. important improvements needed. The following were key There is the potential for underreporting as harbor fees points: are associated [with] freight movement." Irregularity of data collection and data gaps. Greater detail and disaggregation of existing data: "Commodity data from [Bureau of Transportation One respondent compared different levels of data and Statistics] or [TRANSEARCH are] at too high a level." listed the associated difficulties: "Facility operation data There is "no level of detail for an area the size of a [are] collected internally and [are] generally of high qual- [metropolitan region]." "Need zip code or [traffic anal- ity, but [are collected] too infrequently due to budget con- ysis zone] level of data." "Would like more detailed straints. In contrast, regional and national data [are] not O-D [information]." "Need for ... more specific data." satisfactory for many purposes, especially intra-regional/ "[Need] greater geographic detail." local freight flows and characteristics. Data access restric- Improved coverage and "much bigger sample size" tions due to bureaucracy. Little consistency in data format- Improved response rates ting makes [them] difficult to process. Would welcome open More timely, up-to-date data. "Public data, like FAF2, platform for data sharing." Another respondent encapsulated [are] too old." the complexity of the needs by noting that the data are "not Origin-destination data current, not geographically detailed or [temporally] detailed, Travel delay data no historical trend [information] on change and paradigm Routing data--"not just shortest path." shifts, expensive to collect, difficult to repurpose, inevitably "Capacity to capture the data. [State DOT does not] not what you need but what you have." have the staff or capacity and [so the State DOT uses] consultants which are too costly." "Need some dedi- Technical and Content Problems and Limitations cated staff working on data." "The main problems with existing data [are] knowing what information is pro- Respondents addressed a series of technical and content vided in the source and also having the staff with the problems and limitations that they experienced with pre- expertise to utilize the data." vious surveys, and described how they planned to address

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37 them in future surveys. Seven categories were specified in response "in rural areas"), increase funding and hire the survey; the findings are summarized here: a better consultant. 1. Problems of precision. Responses: hiring the "best 7. Other problems. (This category allowed respondents consultants" to assist "on the forecast," requiring bet- to identify specific issues not otherwise addressed.) ter calibration of data collection equipment, increased Responses: "some potential respondents who agreed funding, better training of temporary staff "to ensure to be interviewed for the survey initially, refused to accuracy of data," standardized survey instruments, take the survey later on. A proper [redress] of their use of current technology, and working with another questions/concerns can improve sample size," need public agency to secure the required data (in this case, to address "concerns about how the data will be used ship manifests). and revealed to the public." 2. Problems of confidentiality. Responses: increase Legal and Confidentiality Issues funding to "buy better [information]," focus only on the data that are "essential" and "stop wasting ... time Finally, respondents were asked to describe how legal and and money on data that the industry doesn't support confidentiality issues have impacted the design and conduct in [these] settings," work with data "owners ... to of their surveys, and steps they have taken to address these change restrictive policies when confidentiality can issues. The challenges comprised-- be assured," assure confidentiality to respondents, and, explain the cost [i.e., the implications] to the gov- The level of detail for [analyzing or presenting] origin- erning legislature. destination and commodity information is impacted by confidentiality concerns. 3. Problems of misunderstood survey questions. Some participants (motor carriers) are unwilling to share Responses: explaining the "benefit" of the surveys information, such as that regarding commodities. in ways that are meaningful to respondents, develop Attempts to expand exemption of the completed sur- "better" plans for surveying ("in-house surveying? veys from the Freedom of Information Act have been Contract ... QUALIFIED data collectors."), improve unsuccessful. questions on mail-out and internet surveys, use a Use of [some] proprietary data can be limited by confi- consultant to develop the survey, conduct pilot tests, dentiality constraints. provide assurance that the agency "will aggregate Surveyors at international border crossings were pro- the data [so as not to] reveal information about their hibited by border and customs staff from conducting company but they are still concerned about sharing interviews in the queues (meaning that another survey the information," improved staff training ("train the method had to be found). trainer"), provide capabilities in multiple languages, provided "detailed and helpful route graphics," and Solutions to these challenges comprised-- modify questions. Inclusion of a legal review with all (of one respon- 4. Problems of unintended applications. Response: dent's) surveys. need to address "translation and cross cultural Development of appropriate wording regarding legal challenges." and confidentiality conditions: "Increases [the] time to develop contracts, but have found that challenges are 5. Problems of malfunctioning equipment. Responses: not prohibitive." experimenting with image data collection, rapid Avoidance of the "level of detail" [in surveys] that repairs, and responses. would generate legal and confidentiality problems. Conduct of all correspondence with survey participants 6. Problems of low response rates. Responses: consider via a third-party customer service center--in this case, more concise surveys, compose better cover let- with electronic toll tag owners. ters, provide incentives, allow "multiple avenues for Continued strengthening of the relationship with cus- response, e.g., internet, 800 telephone number," use tomers "to create trust." multilingual survey instruments, reduce survey dura- Not collecting addresses. tion, follow up with telephone calls (to address low Allowing for voluntary participation in the survey.