Big Data, Big Opportunity
Big data is an increasingly popular term for technology used to capitalize on the exponential growth and availability of data that has historically been too large and complex to manipulate or interrogate with standard methods or tools. The transportation industry is already a leader in the volume and variety of data being generated by on-board sensors and data collection points introduced by passenger counting systems, vehicle location systems, ticketing and fare collection systems, scheduling and asset management systems, as well as a multitude of web and mobile applications. Urban Insights believes these data sources, including existing data warehouses, are incredible assets that when complemented by deep analytics can provide unprecedented insights into planning and managing multimodal transportation networks.
Urban Insights’ transportation-specific consulting and services approach breaks through common barriers to unlock the secrets hidden in existing data assets, as well as those uncovered by new sources, to help drive data-informed operational improvements.
One challenge, for example, is that disparate types of data are often “siloed” in different systems and different formats that were not designed to work together. Using Urban Insights’ data science methodology, we extract and collect data in any format from wherever it lives. We stage the data into a schema-less data lake that's unconstrained by traditional” data management architectures. This contrasts sharply with the conventional approach of creating pre-defined schemas and a data warehouse that require complicated ETL (extract/transform/load) processes to convert and load data.
Another challenge is comprehending what the information is showing you. We fuse the data from disparate data sources, and then analyze through statistical and other methods to make appropriate extrapolations, fill in gaps, determine baselines and measure out-of-tolerance conditions (variances). This process lets us summarize the data and the outcomes in ways that are readily measurable and easily related. We simulate by playing out scenarios, playing back the historical record while varying certain factors that influence the results, to gain understanding of the true impacts these factor have on outcomes. Our visualization and reporting tools present the results in a meaningful way, and in a manner that those who need to understand the results do, and – to answer the original questions and inform decision making, all in a way that non-technical domain experts can understand it.
The goal of this process is to enable you to act. Our methods reveal the best choices for a multitude of derived operational and quantifiable benefits from various outcomes. Further, we implement repeatable processes that can be regularly used to measure performance and help ensure the desired outcomes are being achieved. We look forward and back to identify what other opportunities exist to reinforce this iterative improvement cycle.
Finally, by working with Urban Insights’ team of experts in solving transportation-specific big data problems, any size organization can realize the benefits of big data quickly and at a lower cost, without detracting from their core business of efficiently operating transportation systems.