Developing Social Media Protocols and Policies


The presentation made at TRB based on Sarah Kaufman and Susan Bregman’s book chapter, “What’s the worst that can happen? Developing social media protocols and policies” is now available on Slideshare. Please review and comment below if you have questions. The book is available here.


Developing Social Media Protocols and Policies for Transportation Agencies from Susan Bregman

NYU Rudin Center at TRB


If you’re heading to the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board next week, don’t miss the NYU Rudin Center’s appearances:

- “Citi Bike Takes New York,” presented by Mitchell Moss (NYU Rudin Director), Lily Gordon-Koven and Nolan Levenson (NYU Rudin Research Assistants) in Session 672, “Striving to Build Consensus Across Transportation Modes,” Tuesday, January 14, 2014, 3:45pm- 5:30pm.

- “What’s the Worst That Can Happen? Developing Social Media Protocols and Policies,” written by Sarah Kaufman (NYU Rudin Digital Director) and Susan Bregman, presented by Susan Bregman in Session 559, “Using Social Media to Improve Urban Transportation,” Tuesday, January 14, 2014 10:15AM – 12:00PM.

This presentation is based on the book chapter by the same name written by Sarah Kaufman and Susan Bregman.

Hope to see you there!

Mobility Factbook: Official Launch


NYU’s Rudin Center for Transportation has launched a “Mobility Factbook” to explain how people move in, through and out of New York City. This site conveys, for each of NYC’s 28 modes, precise usage patterns and trends. We highlight the use of multiple modes, the surge in off-peak travel, and the use of information technology to enhance mobility.
You can visit the Factbook at www.nycmobility.org.A few key facts:

- The Grand Central Terminal Area hosts 750,000 pedestrians every weekday – more than the population of North Dakota (672,391) (See our map of daily pedestrian counts in major Manhattan destinations here)

- 97% of yellow taxi pickups occur in Manhattan or at the airports. (See more taxi facts here)

- NYC’s dollar vans are estimated to be the 20th largest bus system in the U.S. (And usually cost two dollars; see more here)

- NYC averages 0.59 automobiles per household; the U.S. averages 2.2 automobiles per household. See a map of car ownership rates within the city here.

Visit the site at nycmobility.org - you will learn something new on every page.

On train and car drivers, and their robotic successors


I, for one, welcome our robotic driver overlords.

Positive Train Control, which kicks in to control when human error puts travelers in a dangerous situation, sets the train on a safer course. As federal authorities, politicians and the public call for its implementation on commuter rail, in the wake of last week’s Metro-North train derailment that killed four and injured twenty passengers, I wonder why they don’t demand the same for cars.

Two million drivers in the U.S. fall asleep behind the wheel every week, as WNYC pointed out yesterday, and Ben Kabak of Second Avenue Sagas summarized other startling statistics: “…since 1993, for every 1 billion train passengers, seven have died. In 2012 alone, 33,561 Americans died in traffic incidents. The comparable motor vehicle death rate is 108,000 for every 1 billion drivers.” Clearly, despite the recent tragedy, human error makes trains the safer bet than cars.

Positive Train Control is being planned or implemented by train operators across the United States, by federal mandate. PTC monitors a train’s movement and speed through a combination of on-board computers and wireless communications to assess the train’s speed, location and proximity to other equipment and personnel, and often imposes a speed limit on the train. Hypothetically, if the Metro-North train that derailed had been using PTC, even if the driver “was in a daze situation,” the system would have reduced the train’s speed at that dangerous location, avoiding the derailment. The technology, despite its cost (up to $22.5 billion) and limitations (it only protects against human error, and not, for example, a broken rail), seems like a no-brainer for Metro-North, one of the busiest commuter railroads in the U.S. (and likewise Long Island Rail Road, the busiest in the country).

But where are similar safety measures for cars? There, the human error factor is extremely high, particularly when it comes to driving under the influence and distracted driving; according to the National Safety Council, “21 percent of crashes or 1.1 million crashes in 2011 involve talking on handheld and hands-free cell phones.” As we approach an era of driverless cars, it is time to establish a system that controls cars’ speeds, monitors their proximity to other vehicles and pedestrians, ensures they stop at red lights, de-activates drivers’ texting capabilities, and checks their blood alcohol levels before ignition. While accidents will still occur, the milliseconds of reactive speeds required by an on-board computer will almost always beat out the human computation needs, especially with a cell phone or drink in hand. Many of these safety measures are imminent, if not already possible. Those calling for improved train safety using PTC technologies should be demanding the same tools for personal cars, and sooner. In other words, despite last week’s accident, cars should be operated more like trains, and both should reduce their reliance on unreliable humans.

- Sarah Kaufman

Short Talks, Big Ideas: Event Recap


Last night’s Short Talks, Big Ideas event presented to a sold-out crowd, showcased the best in transportation innovation for nearly every NYC mode. The impressive speaker lineup was:

-Noel Hidalgo, Code for America, showcased the work of bike data hackers at Bike Hack nights.
- Lois Goldman, North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority, discussed pedestrian safety measures in Newark, including a crash stat map and a planned demonstration of what various car speeds can do to a 10 year-old crash test dummy.
- Emily Gallo, Taxi & Limousine Commission, showed off the new lime green Boro Taxis and taught us that 97% of yellow taxi pickups are in Manhattan or at the airports.
- Kevin Ortiz, MTA, gave a behind-the-scenes look at wireless connectivity in the subways, and assured us it will be completely installed by 2017.
- Eric Goldwyn, Columbia University, shared his research on NYC dollar vans, which carry 125,000 passengers a day, making them the 20th largest bus system in the U.S.
-Gary Roth, MTA NYC Transit, made the case for bus security cameras, and showed how they work to show false injury claims.
- Robin Lester Kenton, NYC DOT, showed the power of Instagram photography for infrastructure, with special before/after shots of DOT-enhanced roadways. Follow NYC DOT on Instagram here.
- Randy Gregory II showed off his 100 Ideas for the Subway, some of the recommendations from his popular blog.

The event was moderated by Sarah Kaufman, Research Associate at the NYU Rudin Center, who is always looking for new presenters. Contact her at sarahkaufman /at/ nyu /dot/ edu if you’d like to speak in Spring 2014.

See below for some photos and check out #BigIdeas13 for tweets around the event.


Short Talks, Big Ideas: Recap


Last night’s Short Talks, Big Ideas event showed us how people are using data, how agencies can absorb public input, and how we should be approaching various modes of transport in the future.

Thanks to the numerous attendees, and our fantastic presenters:
- Guillaume Charny-Brunet, FaberNovel, 1.6 Billion Rides: A story of NYC subways, big data and YOU!
- Jeff Ferzoco, Owner, Jeff Ferzoco Design and Senior Fellow, RPA, Mapping innovation: The line is the journey
- Stephanie Camay, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Public involvement in transportation projects
- Bob Leonard, EarthGarage, Standardizing sustainable personal vehicles
- Adam Zaranko, NYC Economic Development Corporation, East River Ferry Service
- Chris Whong, NYU Wagner, Baltimore Circulatorbuddy
- Alexis Perrotta, Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Can social fares improve NYCT?
- Anthony Townsend, NYU Wagner, New Data for Bicycling Research

Check out the event video here and the pics below: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/31217383

We’ll see you in the Fall with our next iteration of Short Talks, Big Ideas. If you have speaker suggestions for our next Short Talks, Big Ideas event, please get in touch.

Until then, please join us on April 20th for the Rethinking Regulation Design Challenge on April 20th.

Don’t-Miss Events in April


We have a fantastic set of events slated for April at the NYU Rudin Center:

April 9th (morning): Local Innovations in Bus Rapid Transit: A Panel Discussion – This panel will focus on innovative bus planning in the New York Metro area, and the unique challenges it presents to both policy makers and citizens.

April 9th (evening): Short Talks, Big Ideas: Transportation Innovations - Join the NYU Rudin Center for this high-energy series of short talks about how we’re using, improving and thinking about the future of transportation.

POSTPONED UNTIL FALL April 10th: Climate-Proofing Connectivity: The Future of New York’s Links to the Northeast Corridor – This symposium will convene experts on climate change, next-generation aviation, and high-speed rail planning to explore how New York’s external transportation connections can adapt to climate change in the coming decades to provide secure, resilient and sustainable economic lifelines in the face of an uncertain future.

April 20th: Rethinking Regulation Design ChallengeThis challenge is about bringing stakeholders to the table to develop innovative, realistic, and implementable solutions to help address the problems government regulators face when monitoring illegal apartment conversions in NYC, and non-compliant “Chinatown” motorcoach companies. (with NYU Wagner and OpenPlans)

All events are free and open to the public. Click on the event titles to register. See you in April!

Super-Commuting vs. Mega-Commuting


Carson Qing & Sarah Kaufman

Earlier this week, The U.S. Census released a report announcing the proliferation of “mega-commuters,” 600,000 Americans who travel at least 90 minutes and 50 miles each way. It’s slightly different from the “super-commuters” we at the NYU Rudin Center defined last year, who are individuals who work in one county (usually of a major metropolitan area), but live in another, usually commuting more than 90 miles each way.

The most pressing difference between the terms “mega-commuter” and “super-commuter” is that the former focuses on the individuals traveling long distances regularly to their workplaces, while the latter also includes people who make these journeys once or twice or week, at most. These long-distance, low-frequency super-commuters may travel to the office only once or twice per week at most, or maintain similarly unconventional schedules. Our definition of a super-commuter, estimated to be 3% to 10% of the workforce depending on the city, includes both “mega-commuters” and low-frequency, long-distance commuters who were not captured in the mega-commuter definition. The graphic below illustrates the differences between these two types of super-commuters in their travel behavior.

 

The U.S. Census Bureau provides two data sources to define origins and destinations of commuter flows. To define the mega-commuter, the Census Bureau used American Community Survey (ACS), which measures data from only 7.5% of the working population, then extrapolates the data for a larger population based from that sample. But the Census Bureau’s OnTheMap tool (OTM), used in our super-commuter report last year, extracts employment data directly from state employment insurance records and represents coverage of nearly all employees and their work locations, with the exception of self-employed individuals. Because of this difference between ACS and OTM, the “mega-commuter” figure is most likely an undercount of long-distance commuters.

Using OTM, we found nearly 650,000 long-distance commuters in the top five U.S. super-commuting metropolitan areas who commute to the core county from a county outside the metropolitan area. OTM is more successful at capturing low-frequency commuting trips than the ACS, because the ACS’s line of questioning focuses on frequent trip-making, asking respondents where did they work for the majority of the past week and how did they travel to work, and assumes that the sample data applies to a larger population[1]. Low-frequency commuters are coded as “working from home” in the ACS, even though in reality their link to the workplace is not severed: the trips are made less frequently, due to the impediments of travel time, distance, and cost.

The rise of “tele-commuters,” who now represent 10% of the total workforce (or in the case of Aetna, 47% of its workforce, up from 9% in 2005[2]), and low-frequency, long-distance commuting has created a fundamental shift in the way people travel between home and work. The traditional “Journey to Work” survey methodology used in the ACS does not fully capture new patterns of commuting or the growing distances between home and work locations in metropolitan regions. It neglects the large and growing number of Americans who do not travel exclusively between home and work on a regular basis. Thus, transportation planners and researchers should not overly rely on the “Journey to Work” methodology to analyze and understand transportation flows: a more nuanced data source that captures a greater variety of trip purposes is increasingly necessary to analyze travel behavior in this new era of commuting.


[1] Spear, Bruce. “Improving Employment Data for Transportation Planning.” Cambridge Systematics. September 2011. http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/nchrp/docs/NCHRP08-36(98)_FR.pdf

[2] Miller, C. & Rampbell, C. “Yahoo Orders Home Workers Back to the Office.” The New York Times. 25 February 2013.

News at the Rudin Center


The NYU Rudin Center staff has been busy:

Rudin Center Director Mitchell Moss discussed the making of Hipsturbia and organic dry cleaners as indicators of gentrification in The New York Times.

Research Associate Sarah Kaufman will present the Rudin Center’s report on Superstorm Sandy at the Transportation Equity Conference in Albany on March 4th.

Research Assistant Carson Qing‘s study of Williamsburg’s late night rush hour has been featured in the Brooklyn Paper and The L Magazine. His newest post on location of employment in major U.S. is now on the blog.

We’re proud to bring on Anthony Townsend as Senior Research Fellow. Here’s a look at the work he’ll be doing at the Rudin Center:

Anthony Townsend is organizing several upcoming workshops that will further the Rudin Center’s investigations into emerging areas of transportation policy, planning and management – resilient regional transportation infrastructure for the Northeast Corridor, future tools and techniques for studying bicycle ownership and use in New York City, the role of big data and pedestrians, and future mobility systems in digitally-connected cities. Through his affiliation with the Silicon Valley-based Institute for the Future, Anthony is conducting a year-long forecast on the future of makers and small-scale manufacturing in cities around the world. His first book, SMART CITIES: Big Data, Civic Hackers and the Quest for a New Utopia will be published in October 2013 by W.W. Norton & Co.

 

Finally, some of our research staff attended the State of the City address at Barclays Center. Here’s a photo:

 

Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for regular updates.