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CHAPTER 4 Next Steps C20 and C43 represent strong, strategic advances toward improved freight modeling and data to support these tools. SHRP 2 ends in 2015, and further steps should be taken in the interim and the long term to ensure that the progress made to date does not wane. Recommendations for next steps include the following: A. Immediate Next Steps With the second symposium completed, there are some immediate next steps that can be undertaken to advance the efforts of the event and the research presented. 1. Webinars To maintain interest in the results of C43 and the research that is coming out of them, webinars could be organized to allow presenters to engage a larger audience for their research, update their status from the symposium, and develop a wider range of interest in the field. 2. TRB Workshops Further hands-on discussions on freight demand modeling and data improvement are a necessary step in maintaining research progress. These can be organized to further showcase the C43 participants and their research, focus on a specific topic (similar to the way the symposium was organized into groups), or develop into a format to educate new participants in the field to various approaches (such as agent-based versus tour-based, and so forth). 3. Recognition for Participation Although there were only two winners of the competition at C43, it is important to recognize that there were 16 abstracts selected for presentation out of the 75 that were submitted to the call for papers. These 16 represent the best advances in innovative freight modeling since the first symposium. Recognizing all the presenters serves to encourage their continued efforts and challenge others in the field. B. Moving Beyond Freight Modeling The movement of goods on a transportation network is truly one leg of a larger system. To fully encompass the realities of freight transportation, research should incorporate other complexities. 13
1. Supply Chain Most of the models presented in the first two symposia were narrowly focused. That may have been a focus on a single mode, a single commodity, or a single network. However, very rarely does freight move in such a manner. As freight data and models become more advanced, they must also evolve to better reflect the complexities of the supply chain moving between modes and networks, and incorporating multiple commodity inputs in the production of another commodity type. 2. Agriculture and Emerging Industries Models have already begun to incorporate these important trends into current research. Agriculture is a driving force in many geographic locations, so understanding the complexity of the market associated with farming and food industries is important. Similarly, as certain industries (such as natural gas fracking) emerge, the unique nature of the operations should be considered separately from the general industrial code that encompasses it, in order to recognize the new challenges and realities that these industries place on the transportation network. 3. Ports Typically, ports have been treated as a relatively static origin or destination, or even as an interim step, depending on the complexity of the model. But this does not recognize the elastic nature of supply-chain operations. Inputs such as costs, labor, and externalities can factor into a shipperâs decision to move goods through one port or another. These factors should be examined within the transportation network, and models should be developed to better explain how these factors can influence the supply chain. 4. Risk-Based Modeling Scenario modeling was not well represented in C43 and should be incorporated into further modeling efforts to help explain how events can influence goods movement. For example, the possible impact of the Panama Canal expansion project on how freight moves through an interior stateâor the overall impact on how the transportation network is utilizedâis potentially important research. It is appropriate and necessary to consider risk-based models to predict the potential impacts of such an event, as well as other high- impact possibilities, including disasters. This is especially critical as such events may drive greater demand for a certain type of commodity within a region or have other second-order effects that should be modeled. 14
C. New Sponsors With SHRP 2 set to expire in the near future, it is important that the advances in research made between C20 and C43 are not lost. There are several candidates that could be considered to take up the role that TRB is currently occupying. 1. Academic Institutions Academic institutions may be the most readily available and appropriate candidate to host further symposia and advance research in freight demand modeling and data improvement. Much of the research that is being conducted is through academic organizations that also have experience hosting events related to research. Academic research institutions do not always have the closest ties to private practitioners, potentially making further engagement with private industry a challenge. 2. Private Industry Groups Research being conducted has the potential to greatly benefit the ability of private industry to operate efficiently on the transportation network. Typically, an industry may have connections to public entities and act as a liaison to the groups they represent. They also have experience holding events and could further engage their groups to the field. It should be recognized that research tends not be their main priority, so the ability to advance research may fall behind other industry priorities. 3. Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) MPOs potentially represent a solid bridge between academic institutions and private industry groups. They typically have experience dealing with both and the ability to bring both together to address issues or for common interests. Furthermore, MPOs tend to be the federal funding mechanism for projects within their region and can direct money toward studies that enhance freight modeling. Not all MPOs are fully invested in the importance of freight demand modeling, so it will be important to identify and engage those organizations with the capability to take on such a role. 4. Other Governmental Agencies In addition to MPOs, other governmental or quasi-governmental agencies could be considered to advance the practice of freight demand modeling. This could include state departments of transportation (DOTs) or a larger representative group such as American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) as well as federal agencies such as the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). 15
D. Expanding Participation C43 was a significant step from C20 in engaging other groups to provide abstracts to their research. The presenters represented a diverse group of geographic areas, the international freight modeling community, and private industry. 1. Private Industry C43 was a step in expanding the community of freight modeling, which was primarily represented at the first symposium. At C43, representatives from two private businesses submitted abstracts that were chosen for presentation. As noted in the abstracts, their models and focus on improving their operations through modeling offered unique insights beyond what is typically understood by the public sector as to how freight moves through the network. There are several additional industry sectors that could be involved in future efforts, including shippers, carriers, and third- or fourth-party logistics companies; each has the ability to provide keen insight into supply-chain management that would provide significant benefit to modeling. Further engagement will only enhance the ability for practitioners to improve their own research. 2. Multi-modalism As noted, the presentations tended to be primarily focused on the movement of freight via truck, and although some modelers did attempt to add multi-modal factors into their research, it was generally a secondary influence on their overall model. Participation should be expanded to engage other modes of transportation as well as the way a commodity may move across multiple modes in the supply chain. 3. International While C43 was largely dominated by domestic freight models in diverse geographic areas, there were three presentations from the international community. One of these was chosen as demonstrating the greatest advancement of innovation in freight modeling. Exchange of methods and tools through the international community can improve the state of the practice in all areas. 4. Students Students should be engaged to help build further interest in freight demand modeling at participating universities. In future symposia, greater outreach to local universities can be conducted or scholarships provided that allow for the attendance to a future symposium for a promising student or group of students. Furthermore, to help generate attention to freight demand modeling by students, a basic introductory course could be developed. 16
E. New Venues Both the C20 and C43 were hosted in Herndon, Virginia, in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan region. Conference responses from both symposia indicated a desire to move the symposium locations around. This may help to improve the visibility of these freight modeling symposia and garner greater interest from those who might otherwise be restricted in travel. Additionally, as SHRP 2 ends, there is the possibility of linking the symposium to other events that might draw a similar attendance or even allow the event to expand. 1. Alternating Coasts or Interior of Country As noted, both events were held in the Washington, D.C., area. Alternating venues to the west coast, the interior of the country, or various locations along the Atlantic seaboard could be combined with organizing tours for attendees with local freight transportation providers or industries to gain greater practical insight to their research. 2. Linking with Other Conferences and Events Rather than hosting a separate symposium, this event could be combined with other conferences or workshops. This would allow for the practice to continue alongside an already commonly organized event. Further, this could also help to expand interest in the field and allow modelers to engage in new data exchange and ideas. 17