U of M Accessibility Observatory announces partnership with TomTom to create national dataset of access to jobs

July 24, 2015

The University of Minnesota Accessibility Observatory is partnering with TomTom to create a national dataset that studies and illustrates accessibility to jobs by automobiles and mass transit throughout the country.

“Accessibility metrics indicate how well a transportation system fulfills the goal of connecting users to valuable destinations,” says Observatory director Andrew Owen.

TomTom, a global leader in navigation and mapping products, will provide map and historical speed data to help analyze accessibility to jobs by auto for metropolitan areas across the United States. For transit data, the Observatory is relying on open, public sources using a method developed at the University with support from the Center for Transportation Studies.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation is the lead agency and coordinator for the national pooled-fund study. Other participating agencies are the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the DOTs of California, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

The annually updated dataset will give study partners digital access to detailed reports of local accessibility trends and patterns. Each partner can use the dataset for local transportation system evaluation, performance management, planning, and research efforts.

“Today’s transportation user wants more than mobility—they want accessibility and they want MnDOT to invest in the appropriate solution, at the right place, at the right time, and at the appropriate cost,” says Tim Henkel, division director of modal planning and program management at MnDOT. “The Accessibility Observatory offers solutions to these decision-making challenges.”

The Transportation Pooled Fund Program, part of the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, allows state DOTs, FHWA program offices, and other organizations to combine resources and achieve common research goals. Additional partners are welcome to join the study.

For information about the Accessibility Observatory, see access.umn.edu.

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