Economic Development Research Group Blog

Dispatches from the Consortium for Scenario Planning 2019 Conference

sm_blog_photo Scott presenting EDR Group’s work on exploratory scenario planning in the Hampton Roads region.
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Scenario planning – a flexible and indispensable methodology for considering alternative futures and identifying appropriate planning responses – is a growing area of practice for EDR Group. As we explain in our Emerging Topic page on scenario planning , it is a useful tool for guiding infrastructure investment plans in the face of uncertainty related to sea level rise, technology adoption, economic growth, and just about any uncertain factor you can imagine. In light of our experience in scenario planning, last week I participated in the Consortium for Scenario Planning Conference in Hartford, Connecticut. Along with my co-presenter Chris McCahill (Deputy Director of the State Smart Transportation Initiative at the University of Wisconsin–Madison), I led a session entitled Transportation Scenarios: Performance Metrics for Planning . Our session addressed how performance metrics help planners 1) understand the complex connections between transportation and land use and 2) measure the performance of different investments...
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TRB Planning Apps Conference Recap

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Last week I attended the TRB Transportation Planning Applications Conference in Portland, OR. To those familiar with the TRB Annual Meeting, TRBAppcon (as it’s called) is a smaller and less formal event with a greater emphasis on showcasing practical techniques and approaches to transportation planning. In keeping with the conference’s emphasis on real-life applications, I kept a list of some of the most useful data sources and analysis/visualization tools presented at the conference: StreetLight Data: StreetLight provides real-world transportation data collected from smartphone location services. Throughout TRBAppcon, presenters demonstrated several novel applications of StreetLight data, such as: analyzing park visitors’ origins; understanding which vehicle trips are external to a region; validating traditional models; and identifying mismatch between bicycle use and cycling facilities. Elsewhere, EDR Group has applied StreetLight data to estimate the effects of proposed mileage-based road user fees on urban and rural households respectively . National Performance Management Research Data...
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EDR Group at the TRB Planning Apps Conference

This week I am in beautiful Portland, Oregon attending the Transportation Research Board’s Transportation Planning Applications Conference, which showcases practice-ready transportation planning applications. At the corner of research and practice, the conference is a great opportunity for participants to share innovative methods of policy analysis and technical transportation planning. I am particularly excited to join workshops, panel discussions, and lightning talks on topics like freight data, multimodal performance measures, and data visualization. On Tuesday 6/4 at 10:30am, I will be presenting at the lectern session “Saying Something Useful When All You Have is a Crystal Ball.” In keeping with the theme I will present an overview of EDR Group’s approach to freight planning using readily available economic data. In short, I’ll explain how we draw connections between the economy (i.e., inter-industry interactions) and the movement of goods to portray the effects of economic change on the transportation network. The methods I...
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Port of Long Beach Economic Impact Study Turns Heads in Southern California

Port of Long Beach Economic Impact Study Turns Heads in Southern California Port of Long Beach
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The Port of Long Beach – along with its neighbor the Port of Los Angeles – is the nation’s largest gateway for international container trade. EDR Group recently completed the Port of Long Beach Economic Impact Study , which quantifies the massive economic impacts of this critical economic engine and its role in the national economy. The study assesses the full range of Port activities, including not only cargo operations, but also cruise passenger services, retail, tourism, and real estate functions. The media has taken note, with stories appearing in publications like the Long Beach Business Journal and Maritime Executive .  The study is available on the Port of Long Beach web site . The study tells the story of the Port’s importance as a job generator for Southern California, the Golden State, and the nation as a whole. In particular, the study found that the Port is connected to one...
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Presenting Research on Ridesharing Users at TRB 2019 (TRB Recap Series #1)

Last week at the TRB Annual Meeting, I presented to a packed lectern session on the topic “ Shared Mobility, Ridehailing, and Emerging Transportation Trends.” Covering diverse topics such as microtransit regulation, the effect of shared mobility on driver behavior, and strategies for reducing empty vehicle miles, the lectern session drew well over 250 attendees – a standing room only affair! I presented the results of an upcoming journal article I co-authored, titled "Rider-To-Rider Discriminatory Attitudes and Ridesharing Behavior". The paper, spun-off from my own master’s thesis research, is a collaboration between myself and my co-authors at MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning: Ph.D. candidate Joanna Moody and Professor Jinhua Zhao. The research explores rider behavior and preferences in ridesharing services (such as uberPOOL or Lyft Shared) and I am excited to say that the research was recently accepted for publication in the journal Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology...
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Resilience: Beyond the Buzzword

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This fall, Hurricanes Florence and Michael presented a story that is sadly familiar. Disaster strikes, the waters recede and reveal the damage. A national conversation on resilience ensues. Will we be prepared next time? Can we be stronger than the storm? In adapting our infrastructure for a changed climate, the impetus for action is clear. However, translating resilience from buzzword to action is a generational challenge for planners. Understanding the history and meaning of the concept is a good place to start. Here goes. Resilience is not new. The Ancient Romans, for example, were very concerned with protecting their critical infrastructure: military roads, agricultural stores, aqueducts. The earliest Roman aqueducts were built underground to protect them from erosion and military attack. Like the barbed-wire fences surrounding modern airports, Emperors forbade planting and, presumably, loitering near their monumental works. Like ancient civilizations, we put systems in place to protect our critical infrastructure....
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On-Demand Ride Services: A Compelling Case for Research

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Scott Middleton is the newest member of the EDR Group team. Before joining, Scott worked as an analyst and planner at the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Volpe National Transportation Systems Center and completed graduate studies at MIT.  At MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning, he completed a master’s thesis that investigated rider behavior and preferences in on-demand ride services (e.g., Uber, Lyft, Waymo). He plans to contribute to EDR Group’s growing body of work in this exciting new discipline.  In July, EDR Group released a new report that measured the economic impact of Uber at national, state, and metropolitan scales. The report generated media attention as the first study to quantify both the economic impacts and benefits of on-demand ride services offered by transportation network companies (TNCs) such as Uber. This work pioneered new methods for putting numbers to intangible features of this emerging industry, including reliability, access, flexibility, income,...
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