Kristin Tufte is the director of PORTAL, the Portland region's multimodal transportation data archive. PORTAL is a program of TREC.

Smart cities for everyone: PORTAL director featured on Intel blog

posted on Tuesday, July 19, 2016 - 9:30am

Thanks in part to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Smart City Challenge competition, the interest in data and technology among transportation professionals has never been higher. That's especially true in Portland, one of the competition's seven finalist cities.

PORTAL, the region's multimodal transportation data archive, is central to any detailed understanding of how our transportation system works now and will work in the future. Kristin Tufte, the director of PORTAL, looks beyond the data streams to the bigger question: what do we do with all this information?

Tufte addresses that question in a new blog post for the Intel Science and Technology Center for Big Data:

The list of data sources available to Smart Cities for use in urban analytics is almost endless: data from connected and automated vehicles, data from connected intersections, probe data from cell phones, crowd-sourced data, fixed-sensor data, air quality readings, and more. A critical question is: How can we use this vast store of data to improve people’s lives?

Read the full blog at ISTC Big Data

In the spring of 2015, with guidance provided by the NITC program, students at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York created a pedestrian and bicycle plan for the City of Canandaigua, New York.

As part of their Sustainable Community Development capstone course, the students in environmental studies provided plans for a mixed use district along Route 332 in Canandaigua.

Course instructor Jim Ochterski credits PSU researcher Lynn Weigand’s NITC education project, Enhancing Bicycle and Pedestrian Education through Curriculum and Faculty Development, with providing essential resources for the course.

“Most of the students did not have any grounding in pedestrian planning and development, and [the NITC materials] made a huge difference,” Ochterski said.

Part of the mission of the NITC program is to enrich transportation education. One way our university partners do this is by developing curricula to advance transportation and livability goals in the classroom.

Weigand's project was intended for just this purpose. She created a module-based curriculum for bicycle and pedestrian planning and design that was designed to be adaptable for use in a variety of course offerings.

The HWS instructors took that curriculum and ran with it.

“We took on a major community project in ped/bike planning because we had these support materials from the program. It allowed us to...

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This summer, Portland State University hosts the 2016 Summer Transportation Institute Program for high school girls in a free two-week day camp, weekdays July 11-22.

This unique program, sponsored by the Civil Rights Division of the Federal Highway Administration and administered through Portland State’s Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC), is designed to introduce underrepresented population to careers and educational paths towards the study of transportation. Read Bike Portland’s coverage of the Institute here.

What does all this mean?

A group of 22 diverse high school girls have been selected to participate in a program that not only teaches them about transportation careers, but gives them hands-on experience working with experts in the field, including leaders from the Portland Bureau of Transportation, the Oregon Department of Transportation, the Port of Portland and TriMet. In addition, women from private-sector transportation consulting such as Alta Planning, Kittleson & Associates, and Cambridge Systematics are involved with instructing the girls.

Grade distribution

9th graders: 4
10th graders: 9
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TREC has a job opening for a Research and Education Program Administrator. This position is responsible for the day-to-day administrative research, education, and diversity programs.

Primary responsibilities include:

  • Project Administration. Tracking and reporting research, education, and diversity projects from inception to project close-out. Coordinating and requesting progress reports; entering and keeping up-to-date entries in the TRB Research in Progress (RIP) database; ensuring that data entered into the Proposal and Project Management System (PPMS) are current; sending out final report and overdue reminders; and finalizing final reports including coordinating peer reviews and collecting final project metrics.
  • Program Administration. Administering the competitive, peer-reviewed, project selection process including the annual Request for Proposal (RFP), pooled-fund, small starts, undergraduate research fund and dissertation fellowships. Tasks include coordinating peer reviews, coordinating executive committee meetings, creating and updating related forms, Principal Investigator Handbook, FAQs, and other related materials; assisting with awards and task orders; posting information to the website and updating online system to accept new proposals, and distributing information via email. Coordinate the selection of the student of the year selection, and maintain contact with the student groups from partner campuses.
  • Compiling...
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TREC is offering a free summer program for high school girls who are interested in transportation studies.

The Summer Transportation Institute will run from July 11–22, 2016.

It is part of a national initiative funded by the FHWA to address the need of a diverse workforce in the 21st century.

The two-week intensive summer day camp will consist of classroom instruction in the mornings and field tours in the afternoons.

Field tours will offer a behind-the-scenes look at the agencies and systems that operate in Portland, and the classroom sessions will provide an understanding of the tools that transportation professionals use to achieve community goals.

Students will gain the skills necessary to solve complex transportation problems and make real change in their communities, as well as a firsthand look at how the Portland transportation universe functions.

In addition, the course will have a focus on social justice, with an examination of how to increase transportation availability and service to traditionally underserved communities.

The course administrator, Sarah Dougher, is an American singer-songwriter, author, and teacher based in Portland, Oregon. TREC is fortunate to have her skills and experience focused on this one-of-a-kind program....

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Alex Bigazzi, a 2014 NITC dissertation fellow and graduate of Portland State University's Civil and Environmental Engineering Ph.D. program, has published a paper based on his NITC-funded research in Environmental Science & Technology, a journal of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

See ACS coverage of the project here.

Bigazzi's research evaluates the concentration of air pollution encountered by cyclists in Portland, Oregon.

In the study, volunteer research subjects rode bicycles equipped with instruments to collect high-resolution bicycle, rider, traffic and environmental data.

Participants rode a variety of routes including bicycle lanes on primary and secondary arterials, bicycle boulevards, off-street paths and mixed-use roadways. They were told to ride at a pace and exertion level typical for utilitarian travel, and breath biomarkers were used to record the amount of traffic-related pollution present in each cyclist’s exhalations. 

This research was the focus of Bigazzi's dissertation, Bicyclists’ Uptake of Traffic-Related Air Pollution: Effects of the Urban Transportation System, published by NITC in December 2014. It was related to an earlier project...

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NITC researchers have tested a method of collecting transportation behavior data using a smartphone app, with promising results.

The process could save transit agencies “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” says lead researcher Christopher Bone, and give them access to comprehensive, real-time data about their ridership, all without compromising passengers’ privacy.

Christopher Bone, Marc Schlossberg, Ken Kato, Jacob Bartruff and Seth Kenbeek of the University of Oregon designed a custom mobile application, which allows passengers to volunteer information about their travel habits, and recruited passengers to use it in a test case.

Their report, “Crowdsourcing the Collection of Transportation Behavior Data,” was released this month.

Download it here.

Participants were asked to use the app for three weeks on Lane Transit District’s EmX bus line located in the Eugene-Springfield area in western Oregon. Researchers placed sensors on the buses and at stops to detect when someone using the app was boarding. When a user came within range of a sensor,...

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The Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) at Portland State University is seeking a Project Director for the National Summer Transportation Institute (NSTI) program.

The NSTI High School Program at Portland State University will be a 10-day non-residential day program for 15 to 25 girls entering 9th through 12th grade. Program hours will be 9 am to 4 pm, M-F over 10 consecutive work days in July. The Project Director will be responsible for overseeing the development, implementation and administration of the program.

Applicants should have at least a Bachelor of Arts or Science, experience and enthusiasm working with youth, excellent communication and problem solving skills, and expertise in MS Word, Excel and other office programs.

Primary responsibilities will include recruiting and selecting students, coordinating curriculum with guests speakers, and administering the budget and reporting requirements of the program.

The position is scheduled to start as soon as the selected candidate is available. This limited duration position will continue through August 31, 2016.

Download the full position description and instructions for how to apply.

Jennifer DillTREC Director Jennifer Dill has been named to the board of trustees for TransitCenter, an urban mobility foundation based in New York City. Dill serves as one of six trustees at the think tank, where former Metro Council President David Bragdon is executive director.

TransitCenter has changed the thinking around transit and multimodal transportation, Dill said. “They’re making change in a field that has often been slow to innovate,” she said.

“For a young organization, they’ve already been making huge impacts.”

Part of the success comes from TransitCenter’s broad mission, which challenges old assumptions about transit governance and leadership. “It’s a holistic approach,” Dill said. “It’s not just technology; it’s about changing the decision making.”

That approach fits with Dill’s own priorities at TREC, where she has been director since 2009, and as director of Portland State’s Toulan School of Urban...

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The NITC program has selected two dissertation fellows for the spring 2016 round of dissertation funding.

Portland State University Ph.D. candidates Patrick Singleton and Kristina Currans will each be awarded a $15,000 fellowship to support their doctoral dissertation research.

Both Currans and Singleton are also Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Graduate Fellows.

Singleton, a former Eno fellow and NITC’s 2015 student of the year, will focus his research on the “positive utility of travel.” 

Traditionally, travel is considered a means to an end, and travel demand is derived from activity demand. More recently, scholars have questioned these axioms, noting that some people enjoy traveling, use travel time productively, and may travel for non-utilitarian reasons.

Singleton will explore this concept, empirically investigating what factors determine the positive utility of travel and its impact on travel behavior. 

His research has important implications for transportation planning and policy, through improving knowledge of influences on sustainable modes and anticipating potential behavioral shifts with autonomous vehicles.

Currans, a former NITC scholar, student of the year and inductee into the Portland State University Women Engineers Hall of Fame, will be researching data and methodological issues in assessing multimodal transportation impacts.

As cities aim to promote sustainable, multimodal growth, existing...

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Protected bicycle lanes have gained popularity as a safer way to get more people cycling. Earlier research from the Transportation Research and Education Center, TREC, at Portland State University showed that people feel safer in lanes with a physical barrier between bicycle and motor vehicle traffic.

The research hadn’t closely studied the intersections, where the barriers—and the protection they offer—go away. With little research guidance, agencies across the country could face the prospect of using untested approaches or avoiding protected lanes altogether.

TREC, through its National Institute for Transportation and Communities pooled-fund program, is now addressing intersections for protected lanes. The program lets agencies and interested partners invest small amounts to join research with a national impact. For this project, 11 partners each put $5,000 to $50,000 toward the $250,000 cost.

The project will help agencies decide which intersection treatments to use in which cases, and what elements each should include. Toole Design Group will work with the Portland State research team to tailor the results to practitioners.
 
“Right now, it’s based on their judgment,” said...

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