NCHRP Report Advises “Be Nimble”

Friday, March 5, 2021
NCHRP Report Cover

NCHRP Research Report 924

In the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) report titled Foreseeing the Impact of Transformational Technologies on Land Use and Transportation, new transportation-related technologies are reviewed and their applications in the transportation sector are explored. The potential impacts on areas such as travel, land use, and planning projects are discussed and recommendations are made to help agencies plan for these technologies. This report provides advice on how state and local agencies can address transformational technologies in their policies, planning, processes, and products.

“It has become apparent that:

  1. Public agencies have less control than they used to over the transportation system
  2. Agencies cannot wait five years between updates to their plans and procedures.”

Two Chapters of Special Note

The chapter titled Characteristics of New Technologies is of special interest as it discusses the following transformational technologies:

  • Personal Communication Devices
  • Active Transportation Technologies
  • Vehicle-Related Technologies
  • Alternative Fuel Vehicles
  • Self-Driving Vehicles
  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
  • Infrastructure Technologies for Highways, Roadways, and Parking systems

The chapter titled A New Mindset for Planning outlines a suggested approach for agencies to stay apace with the impact new technologies will have on transportation. This approach aligns with four “key phrases.”

  1. Self Assess
  2. Get Data
  3. Get Smart
  4. Be Nimble

The authors describe these phrases as detailed below.

  • Self Assess: An agency will frequently self assess to determine where there might be gaps in the agency’s ability to address the implications of new technologies in its planning processes and tools.
  • Get Data: Agencies need to get data on a continuous basis to become – and stay informed about – changing usage trends. Continuous data collection about an agency’s infrastructure and monitoring of public travel patterns and land uses are critical for the agency to keep up with evolving technology trends. A notable challenge is that the data an agency needs to monitor its operations is the same data the private sector wants to monetize.
  • Get Smart: Agencies need to get smart about the technologies affecting transportation, land use, and the services it provides.
  • Be Nimble: Finally, nimble agencies adopt flexible policies, plans, and regulations that can be adapted as technology changes. The agency should be prepared to adapt its plans, regulations, and procedures to rapidly changing conditions quickly and frequently. The days when an agency could safely wait 10 years to update its long-range comprehensive plan are gone. At the very least, an agency needs to monitor current trends and update its plans, policies, codes, and ordinances every few years as new technologies enter the marketplace and others drop out

Since 2003, MS2 has worked with over 270 agencies, and based on our experience, we offer this view of NCHRP’s perspective:


MS2’s Perspective on NCHRP’s New Mindset for Planning

MS2’s Perspective on NCHRP’s New Mindset for Planning

The act of Being Nimble requires research and understanding. But it also requires agencies to Take Confident Action based on the data collected and the analysis that enables agencies to Get Smart. The pre-requisite for taking confident action is complete and reliable data upon which an agency’s understanding is based.

MS2 Traffic Data Management System (TDMS) delivers transportation insights that agencies can confidently rely on to take appropriate actions that will improve transportation in their jurisdictions.  TDMS provides a secure, scalable enterprise solution integrated with ArcGIS Server, Google Maps, and many other data providers to provide comprehensive data that empowers agencies to Get Smart.

Read the full NCHRP Report 924 here. 

Learn more about MS2 software here