Transport and Covid-19: responses and resources

Big Data and Transport

Understanding and assessing options
Big Data and Transport cover image

This report examines issues relating to the arrival of massive, often real-time, data sets whose exploitation and amalgamation can lead to new policy-relevant insights and operational improvements for transport services and activity. It is comprised of three parts. The first section gives an overview of the issues examined. The second broadly characterises Big Data, and describes its production, sourcing and key elements in Big Data analysis. The third section describes regulatory frameworks that govern data collection and use, and focuses on issues related to data privacy for location data. 

The work for this report was carried out in the context of a project initiated and funded by the International Transport Forum’s Corporate Partnership Board (CPB). CPB projects are designed to enrich policy discussion with a business perspective. Led by the ITF, work is carried out in a collaborative fashion in working groups consisting of CPB member companies, external experts and ITF researchers.

Policy Insights

  • Road safety improvements can be accelerated through the specification and harmonisation of a limited set of safety-related vehicle data elements.
  • Transport authorities will need to audit the data they use in order to understand what it says (and what it does not say) and how it can best be used.
  • More effective protection of location data will have to be designed upfront into technologies, algorithms and processes.
  • New models of public-private partnership involving data-sharing may be necessary to leverage all the benefits of Big Data.
  • Data visualisation will play an increasingly important role in policy dialogue.

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