Matt Cole
Matt Cole is executive vice president/deputy of strategy, business development and diversification for Cubic Transportation Systems, with oversight for acquisitions, research and development, partnering and marketing communications. He and his team of capability development leaders are building Nextcity into a family of integrated payment and information systems that will make intelligent travel real across all transportation modes.

Transportation Industry Thought Leaders and Elected Officials Unite to ‘Fix Your Commute’

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Cubic participated in a ‘Big Data, Big Solutions’ panel at The Washington Post’s first America Answers event, shared innovations and goals in big data and predictive analytics

At Washington Post Live’s first installment of its America Answers series, ‘Fix My Commute,’ Vice President Joe Biden stated, “Big data makes it easier to commute in America.” Here at Cubic we couldn’t agree more, and our goal is to make this a reality for transportation operators worldwide.

America Answers is a transformative live event series that brings together government, industry and start-up leaders to analyze and discuss national issues. At ‘Fix My Commute’ on Oct. 21, I participated in a panel on big data and how it is leading to big solutions in the transportation industry. Joining me were Di-Ann Eisnor, head of global partnerships at Waze, and Stephen Goldsmith, professor of government at Harvard Kennedy School. Nancy Scola, technology policy reporter at The Washington Post and editor for the publication’s tech blog, The Switch, moderated the discussion.

Talking Big Data and Big Solutions with Industry Leaders

As discussed among the panelists, transportation authorities collect vast amounts of data from various systems, including on-board sensors and data collection points introduced by passenger counting, vehicle location, ticketing and fare collection, and scheduling and asset management systems. However, this data is siloed, preventing agencies and authorities from seeing the bigger picture of their networks. Data science methodology and deep analytics are essential in envisioning whole journeys and determining what can be improved to optimize efficiency and the commuter experience. Cubic’s analytics professional services subsidiary Urban Insights Associates provides the data scientists, statisticians and business analysts who understand how to extract this information from the mountain of data that agencies and authorities must sift through to generate valuable insights and actions.

One of my favorite phrases for utilizing big data is “Real time isn’t good enough.” This was a popular sound bite from our America Answers discussion, emphasizing the need to maximize the use of predictive analytics to help riders and travelers get from point A to B in the quickest, most convenient way possible.

Journeys generally are not pre-planned because for most people they are habitual, meaning that people don't feel the need to pre-plan since they know where to go, which train to take, etc. It's not a proactive behavior to check status of journey time or whether there are delays around the time their workday begins. If there is a delay or technological failure at a major station early in the morning, this could cause a domino effect of delays and changes to the train schedule throughout the day.

If someone finds out – as they’re walking out the door – that their schedule has been affected by delays or schedule changes, it’s already too late. They are now held up and inconvenienced. If they had been alerted earlier in the morning, they could choose an alternate route, getting them to their destination faster and reducing congestion on an already-stressed network—and this is exactly where the predictive element comes into play.

Eisnor stated that real-time data is important and I completely agree because for many it is still a step forward. Smart cities should utilize it to remain aware of what is happening where— to reduce congestion, accidents and delays in the future by focusing on those areas. I think we can do better - by moving from real-time to predictive data.

Goldsmith acknowledged that smartphones could be a great tool for real-time and predictive updates. He said, “We have a model of government that doesn’t really recognize the almost ubiquity of a smartphone; information is instantly available for people from which they can instantly make decisions.”

Smartphones aren't just a passive data generator, they are communication devices that allow us to actively communicate and exchange data with commuters, including travelers using their phones as payment devices. By collecting secure data from smartphones and their existing systems, transit authorities can help travelers improve their commuting options. Further, commuters opting in to volunteer this data can create a mutually beneficial relationship between government and travelers. But the most important part of this is data sharing is the element of choice. If someone wants to remain anonymous, they should have that option. However, travelers should be reassured to know there are now standards in place to secure and handle this data properly. It’s now possible to maintain the richness of the data without linking it directly to an individual, so transit authorities should use this approach as often as possible.

Real-life Examples of Big Data Tools in Action

To wrap up the panel discussion, each participant summed up an experience they’ve had using big data to solve a problem. Goldsmith began, stating that he participated in a project to move traffic more quickly using predictive analytics without any changes in infrastructure.

I highlighted our professional services company Urban Insights’ use of big data tools and deep analytics techniques to integrate San Diego MTS’ five disparate data sets. This effectively created origination and destination pairs for each traveler trip, allowing the agency to identify riders’ complete journeys and gain a better understanding of its network.

Waze, which utilizes crowd sourcing to improve travel, asked its users to report which gas stations needed fuel trucks during a shortage. Also, when a major bridge closed, Waze was able to use real-time updates from its customers to reroute over 300 vehicles and reduce congestion.

Event Highlights

In addition to the innovations being made with big data, the event looked at how states, cities and towns are making use of solutions to improve cost, congestion, traffic safety and infrastructure projects. Many presenters also delved into technological advances in the industry including autonomous vehicles, apps for commuting and energy improvements.

Importantly, Vice President Biden commented on transportation and infrastructure during a 2 p.m. presentation. He was “excited about what…others are doing to make transportation affordable and accommodating,” noting that “transportation is the second-biggest expense for middle-class families behind housing.” He also mentioned that “reliable transportation is about productivity. It matters. People can keep their jobs and be on time.”

To summarize, Biden hopes the government can continue helping the U.S. streamline its transportation systems and help the country better match up with advanced, modern transportation networks worldwide, and Cubic will be a part of these advancements.

Improving how commuters get from here to there is at the heart of Cubic’s NextCity strategy to integrate all modes of transportation. NextCity is enabling cities to more efficiently manage revenue and infrastructure pricing, better plan for and meet demand using data-driven analytics and maximize traveler convenience through the gathering of predictive, personalized and actionable information.

Overall, we were honored to participate in an innovative, informative event, alongside Vice President Biden and many thought leaders in industry and government, to identify opportunities to improve America’s transportation networks. To catch up and learn more about the event, visit http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/america-answers/wp/2014/09/03/tough-issues-great-minds-new-solutions/.

Cubic participated in a ‘Big Data, Big Solutions’ panel at The Washington Post’s first America Answers event, shared innovations and goals in big data and predictive analytics

At Washington Post Live’s first installment of its America Answers series, ‘Fix My Commute,’ Vice President Joe Biden stated, “Big data makes it easier to commute in America.” Here at Cubic we couldn’t agree more, and our goal is to make this a reality for transportation operators worldwide.

America Answers is a transformative live event series that brings together government, industry and start-up leaders to analyze and discuss national issues.  At ‘Fix My Commute’ on Oct. 21, I participated in a panel on big data and how it is leading to big solutions in the transportation industry. Joining me were Di-Ann Eisnor, head of global partnerships at Waze, and Stephen Goldsmith, professor of government at Harvard Kennedy School. Nancy Scola, technology policy reporter at The Washington Post and editor for the publication’s tech blog, The Switch, moderated the discussion.

Talking Big Data and Big Solutions with Industry Leaders

As discussed among the panelists, transportation authorities collect vast amounts of data from various systems, including on-board sensors and data collection points introduced by passenger counting, vehicle location, ticketing and fare collection, and scheduling and asset management systems. However, this data is siloed, preventing agencies and authorities from seeing the bigger picture of their networks. Data science methodology and deep analytics are essential in envisioning whole journeys and determining what can be improved to optimize efficiency and the commuter experience. Cubic’s  analytics professional services subsidiary Urban Insights Associates provides the data scientists, statisticians and business analysts who understand how to extract this information from the mountain of data that agencies and authorities must sift through to generate valuable insights and actions.

One of my favorite phrases for utilizing big data is “Real time isn’t good enough.” This was a popular sound bite from our America Answers discussion, emphasizing the need to maximize the use of predictive analytics to help riders and travelers get from point A to B in the quickest, most convenient way possible.  

Journeys are pre-planned because people self-optimize their routines. For example, if a commuter takes the train to work, they probably choose a schedule that gets them to their destination around the time their workday begins. If there is a delay or technological failure at a major station early in the morning, this could cause a domino effect of delays and changes to the train schedule throughout the day.

If someone finds out – as they’re walking out the door – that their schedule has been affected by delays or schedule changes, it’s already too late. They are now held up and inconvenienced. If they had been alerted earlier in the morning, they could choose an alternate route, getting them to their destination faster and reducing congestion on an already-stressed network—and this is exactly where the predictive element comes into play.

Eisnor, however, stated that real-time data is still important and that smart cities should utilize it to remain aware of what is happening where— to reduce congestion, accidents and delays in the future by focusing on those areas.

Goldsmith acknowledged that smartphones could be a great tool for real-time and predictive updates. He said, “We have a model of government that doesn’t really recognize the almost ubiquity of a smartphone; information is instantly available for people from which they can instantly make decisions.”

By collecting secure data from smartphones and their existing systems, transit authorities can help travelers improve their commuting options.  Further, commuters opting in to volunteer this data can create a mutually beneficial relationship between government and travelers. But the most important part of this is data sharing is the element of choice. If someone wants to remain anonymous, they should have that option.  However, travelers should be reassured to know there are now standards in place to secure and handle this data properly. It’s now possible to maintain the richness of the data without linking it directly to an individual, so transit authorities should use this approach as often as possible.

Real-life Examples of Big Data Tools in Action

To wrap up the panel discussion, each participant summed up an experience they’ve had using big data to solve a problem. Goldsmith began, stating that he participated in a project to move traffic more quickly using predictive analytics without any changes in infrastructure.

I highlighted our professional services company Urban Insights’ use of big data tools and deep analytics techniques to integrate San Diego MTS’ five disparate data sets. This effectively created orientation and destination pairs for each traveler trip, allowing the agency to identify riders’ complete journeys and gain a better understanding of its network.

Waze, which utilizes crowd sourcing to improve travel, asked its users to report which gas stations needed fuel trucks during a shortage. Also, when a major bridge closed, Waze was able to use real-time updates from its customers to reroute over 300 vehicles and reduce congestion.

Event Highlights

In addition to the innovations being made with big data, the event looked at how states, cities and towns are making use of solutions to improve cost, congestion, traffic safety and infrastructure projects. Many presenters also delved into technological advances in the industry including autonomous vehicles, apps for commuting and energy improvements.

Importantly, Vice President Biden commented on transportation and infrastructure during a 2 p.m. presentation.  He was “excited about what…others are doing to make transportation affordable and accommodating,” noting that “transportation is the second-biggest expense for middle-class families behind housing.” He also mentioned that “reliable transportation is about productivity. It matters. People can keep their jobs and be on time.”

To summarize, Biden hopes the government can continue helping the U.S. streamline its transportation systems and help the country better match up with advanced, modern transportation networks worldwide, and Cubic  will be a part of these advancements.

Improving how commuters get from here to there is at the heart of Cubic’s NextCity strategy[PS1]  to integrate all modes of transportation.  NextCity is enabling cities to more efficiently manage revenue and infrastructure pricing, better plan for and meet demand using data-driven analytics and maximize traveler convenience through the gathering of predictive, personalized and actionable information.

Overall, we were honored to participate in an innovative, informative event, alongside Vice President Biden and many thought leaders in industry and government, to identify opportunities to improve America’s transportation networks. To catch up and learn more about the event, visit http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/america-answers/wp/2014/09/03/tough-issues-great-minds-new-solutions/.

 

 

 


 

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