University transportation centers (UTCs) stand at the forefront of mobility innovation. Not only do they develop life-changing technologies, they also deliver strategies on how to embrace them.
This success hasn’t gone unnoticed. As part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, President Biden has announced a significant level of funding to be provided to such facilities, in a bid to transform the transportation system.
It’s huge news for those in the sector. Here’s why…
$450 million to fund up to 35 UTCs
The Department of Transportation has invited applications from colleges who’ll receive $450 million for a five-year period, from 2022 to 2026. The UTCs themselves must propose a focus area from one of the legislation’s stated research priorities:
- Improving Mobility of People and Goods
- Reducing Congestion
- Promoting Safety
- Improving the Durability and Extending the Life of Transportation Infrastructure
- Preserving the Environment
- Preserving the Existing Transportation System
- Reducing Transportation Cybersecurity Risks
Commenting on the funding, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said, “With this investment, we’ll be able to support a new generation of visionary leaders and advance research that will help to transform our transportation system with safer, cleaner, more accessible ways for people and goods to move in this country.”
How will this be used?
UTCs will look at ways to address the outlined research priorities. With ‘Improving Mobility of People and Goods’ for example, this could be upgrading city infrastructure so that deliveries can be made without encountering as much congestion. To do this, you’d first need to incentivize private car owners with better public transport options. That means cycle lanes, e-scooters and ride-sharing platforms.
Of course, this level of improvement requires insight. You need to know how people are moving today, and how a location’s infrastructure would change if you made those improvements. Wejo data enables you to see traffic at a granular level, you’ll know exactly what the impact of your decisions are before starting the work.
Universities can use this information when they attempt to help states improve air quality for example, as they’ll be able to demonstrate that it won’t harm traffic flow. Likewise, by using connected vehicle data to monitor road conditions, UTCs can prolong the lifespan of current infrastructure by making more meaningful improvements.
Departments of Transportation (DOTs) often work with UTCs to handle traffic, fixing infrastructure or increasing road safety. Wejo collaborated with Purdue UTC, which was partnered with Indiana DOT, to understand how they could improve safety in construction zones.
With 115,000 work zone crashes in 2019, local authorities felt pressure to better understand driver conditions and hazards. They analyzed accident reports and used vehicle movement insights to learn when hard braking occurred, signaling when drivers were coming to an immediate stop. They recognized this as a surrogate measure of ‘safety’ near a work zone.
Through our connected vehicle data, they saw that this hard braking was because of the queues in the run-up to the work zone, in many cases way before the signage. They decided to utilize a queue truck to warn drivers sooner, and used Wejo data to measure one queue with the truck and one without. The former reduced hard braking events by over 50%.
How we’ve helped other UTCs
Oklahoma State works with DOTs to help them reach Vision Zero – an aim that would eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries while promoting equitable mobility. As well as using laser triangulation and Internet of Things sensors to glean insights on road conditions, their team determined that Wejo’s Smart Mobility data could achieve similar results on a much larger scale.
Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) is an agency of the State of Texas, and also a member of the Texas A&M…