Practices on Acquiring Private Data for Transportation Applications

Grants and Contracts Details


Recent technological advancements have led to new types of transportation data. Data characteristics may include improved quality, greater temporal and wider geographical coverage than traditional data sets. State DOTs and MPOs face challenges associated with obtaining new proprietary data (e.g. probe and crowd-sourced data). Issues include cost, availability, use policies, non-disclosure agreements, privacy, and data quality (e.g. timelines, coverage, accuracy, and provenance). Despite the challenges, transportation agencies negotiate with private vendors to obtain consistent, timely, quality data for planning purposes. From the USDOT acquisition of the National Performance Management Research Data Set (NPMRDS) to state DOTs and Metropolitan Planning Organizations purchasing databases, practitioners are faced with broad choices and need better information to make important decisions regarding acquiring proprietary data. The objective of this project is to gather information about how state DOTs and MPOs acquire proprietary data for transportation applications. Information to be gathered will include, but not be limited to: • Whether the state DOT or MPO has a data business plan; • Who is involved with proprietary data acquisition; • What proprietary data have state DOTs and MPOs acquired and for what use; • Whether proprietary data replaces or supplements existing data; • Special terms of data use agreements (e.g. exceptions or restrictions on application); • Why DOTs and MPOs purchase either raw data, or a suite of tools (e.g. software as a service), or completed studies; • Obstacles to data acquisition (e.g. legal, privacy, lack of funding. etc.); • If state DOTs and MPOs receive requests for data sharing, if they share data with other agencies and, if so, how this impacts data acquisition; • If state DOTs and MPOs have standard data acquisition guidelines to assess vendors, products and privacy; • Whether state DOTs and MPOs have an annual budget and expenditures for proprietary data acquisition; and • What issues state DOTs and MPOs have with data quality obtained from private vendors. Information will be gathered through a literature review, a survey of state DOTs and large MPOs (e.g. MSA of 2.5 million or more), and interviews with no fewer than five agencies that identify how agencies acquire proprietary data. The survey will be sent to MPOs and members of the AASHTO Data Management and Analytics. The interviews will result in case examples and lessons learned that describe how DOTs and MPOs assess licensing options, caveats and risks, and data negotiations.
Effective start/end date1/16/187/16/19


  • National Academy of Sciences: $45,000.00


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