Project History

Research Objective

The project’s overall objective was driven by the following questions:
  • Do industries cluster along the road way, and if so, can the cluster be used to define sub-county geography for the purpose of freight assignments?
  • Can we create a spatial relationship between the characteristics of truck traffic, their relationship to the roadways and the economic clusters be formed to develop a visual or deterministic mechanism to assess locations for safety weight enforcement?

Project History

In PHASE ONE, the research team focused on the proof-of-concept as to whether business actually cluster along the roadway. A series of experiments attempted to assess various methods to produce a cross sectional display for how to group business by industry.

PHASE TWO focused on expanding what was learned and visualized in PHASE ONE to all of the corridors for the rest of the State, and examined the characteristics of how spatial analysis and grid size, search radius should be used to best capture the concentrations and how these need to be visualized.

PHASE THREE focused on temporal analysis of High Speed Weigh-in-Motion (HSWIM), Volume and Classification data from continuous reporting sites to understand if there were any seasonal variations that needed to be addressed; if there were differences between single unit trucks and semi-tractor trailer trucks and passenger vehicles; and where and how these groups varied by season. It also focused on how to summarize this type of “real time” information and “roll it up” for display and analysis purposes.

PHASE FOUR focused on conceptual assessment of how best to visualize data within the GIS view extent and how or if spatial, link and point data could be interrelated within the ArcGIS 9.1 environment.

PHASE FIVE focused on the development of actual tools and extensions to implement the PHASE FOUR concepts.

PHASE SIX focused on the ability to “roll-up and fold-over” available short count, HSWIM, accident and inspection data and display the output as a “visual roadway index” for predicting the movement of overweight trucks.

PHASE SEVEN provided for the migration of the tool development environment from Arc 9.1 to 9.2 (subsequently migrated to 9.3).

PHASE EIGHT implemented the new features in 9.3 to analyze and displayed the economic activity (based on the generalized employment grids developed in Phase Four) and linked the output to each link in the roadway index. The matrix formed from these two data sources allows the user to evaluate the relationship between overweight truck traffic and economic activities using a variety of weighting factors. This phase included the development of a set of special tools to be used with the raw Weigh-in-Motion data. The tools were built based on input and feedback from the NYSDOT Motor Carrier Division personnel and WIM data handlers to provide for analysis and data visualization.

PHASE NINE included a set of documentation and functionality documents to review the code, to determine the feasibility of maintaining a stable platform so that a production version can be created and supported for distribution within the department.

PHASE TEN included documentation for a user-oriented work flow set of documentation and tutorial materials that differ from the code based documentation (see Phase Nine). These materials aid in the successful use of the Traphic Tool features within the NYSDOT work environment and to other potential users, such as MPOs. Phase Ten will provide a series of tutorials and data handling documentation appropriate for a number of different potential users.

PHASE ELEVEN evaluated the potential threats to maintenance and sustainability of the Traphic Tool due to changes in supporting and implementing software operations (e.g., upgrade to Windows 7, upgrade to ESRI ArcMap 10 and potential change in VBA support, etc.). The risk assessment for software sustainability concluded that the fundamental issues associated with moving the Traphic Tool functionality to Python were minimal and the maintenance and sustainability offered by the Python approach should be implemented. The results of this phase are documented in the Phase 11 White Paper.

PHASE TWELVE produced a proto-type Python version of the Traphic Tool functionality for addressing the processing steps for the specified industries using the original BLAT tool business establishment data with NAICS codes. The regeneration/automation of the spatial cluster analysis techniques required for users (manual processing originally developed for Phase 8) was included as part of the feasibility testing. A set of tools for selecting the grid size and the search radius were developed and pilot tested as per of the White Paper experiment. It was not possible to automate the entire process as the current ArcGIS 9.3 functionality would not allow two commands to be performed on “created” layers, sequentially. However, recent advances in ArcGIS 10 could potentially overcome one of the areas of concern, the ability to not only “create” layers automatically, but to also be able to remove them automatically as well.

PHASE THIRTEEN produced a working Python-based, Traphic Tool Suite, including the following tool extensions: NAICS Density Processing Tool; the Graphing Tool; and the Time Series Tool. NAICS Density Processing Tool includes the functionality described in Phase 4 and allows the user to calculate and visualize the spatial density of any combination of NAICS codes. The Graphing Tool allows point and click visualization of New York State short-count data inside of ArcMap. The Time Series Tool provides temporal analysis of aggregated short-count, volume and class data, using a slider application for customization of time and space. Each tool has a series of tutorials to demonstrate the generic capacities, with narrative sections indicating how the tool can be used for specific NYSDOT applications.

PHASE FOURTEEN produced a universal deployment strategy that allows for the appropriate use of the tools, an understanding of the nature of the data needed to support the tool operations, and long-term asset management. This phase included the creation of instructional materials deployed through the NYSDOT web service. The research team matched the functionality of each tool to the availability of NSYDOT datasets and work flows. A one-stop, “word-based” instructional html “page” serves up the necessary files and extensions through automated links, integrated with the data sources and folder structures. A “practice” dataset (using data appropriate for public dissemination) is available for training purposes. Welcome to the universally-deployable version of Traphic Tool Suite (including NAICS Density Processing Tool; the Graphing Tool; and the Time Series Tool), along with tutorials, sample datasets and application examples from the NYSDOT work program.