Project evaluates smartphone truck data

Trucks are responsible for carrying the largest portion of the freight that moves through Oregon.
OTREC Researcher Miguel Figliozzi, of Portland State University, recently explored the collection of freight data through a smartphone application.
Freight data is usually incomplete, scarce, and expensive to collect. Many carriers and shippers are reluctant to install trackers on their vehicles due to privacy concerns, and the enormous variety of companies and people involved in the supply chain makes it difficult to gather a comprehensive collection of truck data.
According to The Oregon Freight Plan, Oregon is the ninth most trade-dependent state in the nation. Because most of that trade moves by freight, the transportation network is crucial to the state’s economic stability.
Knowing the origins and destinations of commercial vehicles, as well as their speed and direction, would help planners sustain an effective transportation system.
Figliozzi’s research centers on a new pilot project which is being implemented by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to simplify the collection of taxes.
Oregon is one of the few states to charge a commercial Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) tax.  Truck Road Use Electronics, or TRUE, is a pilot project created by ODOT’s Motor Carrier Transportation Division to make VMT tax collection simpler.
The TRUE project is testing a smartphone application with a GPS device and a microprocessor that automates the collection of the state’s truck VMT tax. The device tracks the miles that a truck travels in Oregon and sends the data to ODOT, then a tax “invoice” is created which can be paid online.
The automated process is designed to reduce the administrative burden on ODOT and trucking firms, but the TRUE database also has the potential to be used for other purposes, including the freight data that planners are always seeking
The types of data being collected by the smartphones include commercial vehicle origin-destination, space/time coordinates and trajectories. This new data could be integrated into existing data sources to create a more complete store of information about freight travel in Oregon.
That information could be used to: (a) study travel time reliability, (b) identify congestion bottlenecks or chokepoints for freight flows, (c) study trucking emission levels in key corridors, and (d) produce innovative freight performance measures.
As similar systems to TRUE become more common, freight GPS data will become more widely available. As such, it is important for agencies that might have access to such data to develop and understand methodologies to process and analyze it.
Since the TRUE project is in an early pilot stage, Figliozzi’s research is timed just right. There is a unique opportunity to recommend changes to the TRUE data collection method and database architecture in order to meet future ODOT planning needs.
After providing data integration and database recommendations, this research project will focus on evaluating the adequacy of TRUE data to estimate travel times, reliability, and emissions along the I-5 corridor in the Portland metropolitan region.
For more information, click here to visit the project page or download the final report.

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