Secure Transportation Data Project
Having quality data is the cornerstone of any research task. With the secure transportation data project, NREL is working to securely archive and provide access to detailed transportation data—valuable data that have been lost previously due to privacy concerns.
Transportation data collected by entities such as metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) have become increasingly robust. Data-collecting enhancements include the use of global positioning systems (GPS), cell phones, video, and other means, which can gather personal information. Privacy concerns often make a collecting agency reluctant to share the data for secondary research. Therefore, extremely valuable data about a vehicle's location, speed, and direction are lost or destroyed.
Data Privacy at NREL
NREL is addressing the data-privacy issue by providing the Transportation Secure Data Center (TSDC) to house this rich data for continued and expanded research. The TSDC will make past and future data available to broader groups, such as other MPOs or municipalities, as well as to new data users at automakers, national laboratories, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Having a centralized secure repository will relieve individual agencies from the burden of fielding numerous data access requests and provide additional features such as summary statistics, which offer an overview and comparison of each dataset. NREL's data center solution is consistent with the recommendations in Putting People on the Map: Protecting Confidentiality with Linked Social-Spatial Data.
NREL recognizes the importance of launching this data center and the benefit improved data access will bring to its research for DOE. The laboratory is partnering with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to fund and host the TSDC at NREL.
The Transportation Secure Data Center provides users with access to detailed transportation data from a variety of travel surveys and studies:
Cleansed Data Access
Users may quickly access data from the following studies to support applications that require detailed travel distance and speed information, but that do not require detailed latitude and longitude spatial information. Before viewing this data for the first time, you will be required to fill out a short registration form.
- California Department of Transportation — California Household Transportation Survey
- Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning — Regional Household Travel Inventory
- Atlanta Regional Commission — Regional Travel Survey with GPS Sub-Sample
- Texas Department of Transportation — Transportation Studies with GPS Travel Diaries with data for Abilene, Austin, El Paso, Houston/Galveston, Laredo, Rio Grande Valley, San Antonio, Tyler/Longview, and Wichita Falls
- Puget Sound Regional Council — Traffic Choices Study
- Southern California Association of Governments — Regional Travel Survey with GPS Sub-Sample to the 2001-2002 Regional Travel Survey
Spatial Data Access
Users may also access spatial information and other data details through a restricted environment after completing an application and approval process. After receiving a log-in account, users may remotely connect to this controlled-access area. The environment prohibits removal of sensitive data, but the provided software tools and reference data allow users to create specialized database queries, perform detailed calculations, and conduct statistical and GIS analyses. Users may also request to have custom files or programs loaded for them, and to have aggregated results or reports sent out of the environment to them. Please contact us if you would like to receive an application and more information about this method of data access.
More information is available via the following resources:
- TSDC: Real-World Data for Planning, Modeling, and Analysis fact sheet
- TSDC: Data Application Examples
- TSDC Overview and Data Examples poster
- Establishing a Secure Data Center with Remote Access conference paper
- TSDC Demonstration webinar
- TSDC Project and Procedures Overview webinar
Contact Jeff Gonder to discuss options for joining as a partner in the TSDC, to apply for spatial data clearance, or for more information on the project.
Subscribe for periodic e-mail updates when new data sets and features become available in the TSDC.