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Innovations in Freight Demand Modeling and Data Improvement (2014)

Chapter:CHAPTER 2: General Themes

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Suggested Citation:"CHAPTER 2: General Themes." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2014. Innovations in Freight Demand Modeling and Data Improvement. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22336.
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Suggested Citation:"CHAPTER 2: General Themes." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2014. Innovations in Freight Demand Modeling and Data Improvement. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22336.
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Suggested Citation:"CHAPTER 2: General Themes." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2014. Innovations in Freight Demand Modeling and Data Improvement. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22336.

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CHAPTER 2 General Themes The second symposium marked advances in research and practice since the first symposium in 2010, as well as attempted linkages to C20 research initiatives presented in its final report. Additionally, themes emerged and further gaps were identified, many consistent with those found in the first symposium. By comparison, where the ideas presented at the first symposium were more theoretical, those presented at this symposium illustrated attempts at practical application in resolving real-world problems. Key themes of the symposium included the following: • The insight into supply-chain management that was provided by the private-sector participants was extremely interesting, according to feedback from the participants. In particular, participants recognized that some of the data and processes used by the private sector to reduce costs and streamline their own supply chains could have tremendous value to the public sector. In addition to traditional sources of data related to origins/destinations, transport mode, and commodities, the internal performance measures that the private-sector representatives discussed related to route choice, time- of-day deliveries, and load factors, which could all be great resources for the public- sector planning process. • Another element of the public/private-sector interaction that was well received was the innovative use in public-sector planning efforts of private-sector data resources that were originally developed for purposes completely unrelated to transportation planning and forecasting. Several examples of this included the use of CropScape satellite imagery developed by agricultural interests for estimating tonnage of various agricultural commodity types, the fusion of land use geographic information system (GIS) data at the property/parcel level with on-board truck Global Positioning System (GPS) data to develop surrogate commodity types for urban truck touring, and GIS data used by the energy sector for active drilling sites to estimate future transportation of heavy machinery, equipment, and sand for hydraulic fracturing. • A lot of interest was generated by the presentations on agent-based modeling. This approach to freight forecasting is still in its early stages, but the presentations illustrated several examples of freight forecasting in which the traditional commodity/mode/route approach is enhanced by incorporating elements of the decision-making process of shippers, carriers and even third-party logistics providers (3PLs). • There is significant interest and research going on in relation to when freight travels as well. This temporal characteristic is being analyzed seasonally as well as by time of day to better provide insight on the effects of goods movement for congestion, 3

safety, and labor. This has potential impacts to policy making to incentivize freight movements to certain times or to address capacity at key periods. • Modeling is being used for decision-making processes that have consequences beyond just freight transportation. Information derived from modeling is being utilized for public policymaking related to environmental considerations, safety, pavement management, resource utilization, and funding allocations. Inputs related to global supply-chain sources, packaging decisions, weight allocations, and trend changers are working their way into model development to better reflect real-world conditions. • A recurring theme in this symposium was the need for better data at refined levels of geographic detail to address certain freight planning needs. While many participants expressed a need for better and more comprehensive Freight Analysis Framework (FAF) origin/destination and commodity flow data, some of the presenters demonstrated an ability to make do with different data resources for planning and modeling at smaller geographic scales. In some cases this involved the use of surrogate data such as those described previously (CropScape, land use, etc.), while in other cases the model was built on data for a smaller geographic scale than FAF but for a limited number of commodities that were of primary interest for a particular region (corn in Iowa, silica sand in Wisconsin, energy and wheat in North Dakota). However, modelers should be cognizant of the limitations associated with disaggregating large-scale data (i.e., Freight Analysis Framework, version 3 [FAF3]) down to a more localized level. • Many of the presentations identified one of the key areas of disconnect between the public and private sectors as the large difference in planning-time horizons between the business community and the public sector. No clear avenues to bridge this gap were addressed, but some of the public-sector presentations demonstrated a remarkable ability to respond to the rapidly changing needs of industries such as energy extraction. • Participants noted in several different sections of the symposium evaluation that they enjoyed the presentations by the private-sector participants. They also noted that public- sector modelers needed increased interaction with private shippers to understand the nuances of real-world shipping, to gain additional data from shippers, and to tailor model output to create data that are meaningful to shippers. Some of the participants were particularly interested in the strategies used by the private-sector participants to maximize the efficiency of their supply chains. Specific strategies that generated participant interest included efforts to reduce the weight and volume of packing materials and minimize empty shipments by tracking performance measures for trucks such as ton-miles traveled as a fraction of a truck’s loaded capacity for a full trip. • When asked how to continue the interaction begun with this and the previous symposium, many participants simply stated that the symposia should continue. They noted that the competition aspect was well liked and made the symposium different from 4

other conferences. Participants overwhelmingly suggested that private-sector involvement should continue and be expanded. 5

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TRB’s second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP 2) Report: Innovations in Freight Demand Modeling and Data Improvement provides detail to the events of "The TRB Second Symposium on Innovations in Freight Demand Modeling and Data," which took place October 21-22, 2013. The symposium explored the progress of innovative freight modeling approaches as recommended by the Freight Demand Modeling and Data Improvement Strategic Plan.

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