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CRS — “Black Boxes” in Passenger Vehicles: Policy Issues

July 25, 2014 Comments off

“Black Boxes” in Passenger Vehicles: Policy Issues (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

An event data recorder (EDR) is an electronic sensor installed in a motor vehicle that records certain technical information about a vehicle’s operational performance for a few seconds immediately prior to and during a crash. Although over 90% of all new cars and light trucks sold in the United States are equipped with them, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is proposing that all new light vehicles have EDRs installed in the future. Under previously adopted NHTSA rules, these devices have to capture at least 15 types of information related to the vehicle’s performance in the few seconds just before and immediately after a crash serious enough to result in deployment of airbags.

EDRs have the potential to make a significant contribution to highway safety. For example, EDR data showed that in several cases a Chevrolet Cobalt’s ignition switch turned the engine off while the car was still moving, causing the car to lose power steering and crash; the data directly contributed to the manufacturer’s decision to recall 2.6 million vehicles. EDR data could also be used, sometimes in conjunction with other vehicle technologies, to record in the few seconds before an accident such data as driver steering input, seat occupant size and position, and sound within a car.

The privacy of information collected by EDRs is a matter of state law, except that federal law bars NHTSA from disclosing personally identifiable information. The privacy aspects of EDRs and the ownership of the data they generate has been the subject of legislation in Congress since at least 2004. The House passed a floor amendment to the transportation appropriations bill in 2012 that would have prohibited use of federal funds to develop an EDR mandate. This provision was not enacted. The Senate passed two EDR-related provisions in its surface transportation reauthorization bill (S. 1813) in 2012, mandating EDRs on new cars sold after 2015 and directing a Department of Transportation study of privacy issues. The provisions were not included in the final bill.

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Enterprising States 2014: Re-Creating Equality and Opportunity

July 23, 2014 Comments off

Enterprising States 2014: Re-Creating Equality and Opportunity
Source: U.S. Chamber of Commerce

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has released its annual Enterprising States study, offering an in-depth look at the free enterprise policies being implemented to promote economic growth at the state and local levels.

Now in its fifth edition, the Enterprising States study measures state performance overall and across five policy areas important for job growth and economic prosperity. Those five areas include:

  • Talent Pipeline
  • Exports and International Trade
  • Technology and Entrepreneurship
  • Business Climate
  • Infrastructure

The 2014 report relates these policies and practices to the need for collaboration between education, workforce development, and economic development to positively combat the nation’s growing skills gap.

How the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Other Privacy Laws Affect Public Transportation Operations

July 23, 2014 Comments off

How the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Other Privacy Laws Affect Public Transportation Operations
Source: Transportation Research Board

TRB’s Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Legal Research Digest 46: How the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Other Privacy Laws Affect Public Transportation Operations explores whether the privacy and security rules established by HIPAA apply to transit agencies that possess patrons’ health information.

The first seven sections of this digest discuss HIPAA and whether various entities are subject to HIPAA’s privacy and security provisions applicable to the protection of protected health information, as defined by HIPAA. This digest also analyzes how protected health information is defined by HIPAA and discusses HIPAA’s Privacy Rule and Security Rule as defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in its most recent final rule.

This digest summarizes other important aspects of HIPAA including whether protected health information must be produced in response to a subpoena, discovery request, or a request under a freedom of information act (FOIA) or similar law. The remainder of the digest discusses the privacy of health information under other federal and state laws. The digest also covers industry standards and best practices used by transit agencies to protect the privacy of patrons’ health information.

Making Effective Fixed-Guideway Transit Investments: Indicators of Success

July 22, 2014 Comments off

Making Effective Fixed-Guideway Transit Investments: Indicators of Success
Source: Transportation Research Board

TRB’s Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Report 167: Making Effective Fixed-Guideway Transit Investments: Indicators of Success provides a data-driven, indicator-based model for predicting the success of a fixed-guideway transit project. The handbook and final research report make up Parts 1 and 2 of TCRP Report 167, and the spreadsheet tool is available separately for download.

USPS OIG — Package Services: Get Ready, Set, Grow!

July 22, 2014 Comments off

Package Services: Get Ready, Set, Grow! (PDF)
Source: U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General

The package delivery market has been growing considerably. Between 2008 and 2013, the U.S. Postal Service experienced a more than 20 percent increase in package volume. The main reason is the growing popularity of e-commerce, particularly online shopping. American businesses and consumers spent more than $68 billion to ship packages domestically in 2013. E-commerce sales in the U.S. alone this year will top $430 billion; global e-commerce will exceed $1.5 trillion.

There is no doubt that packages are growing in importance to the Postal Service’s future. To meet emerging customer demands, the Postal Service needs to position itself for long-term success and broaden its role across the package delivery value chain. The Postal Service has already taken some steps towards enhancing its ability to handle an increase in packages. However, it needs a strategy that includes expanding beyond the traditional postal expertise of last-mile delivery to offer one-stop.

wefi Reveals Top U.S. Locations for the Best Wi-Fi Connectivity During Summer Travel Season

July 22, 2014 Comments off

wefi Reveals Top U.S. Locations for the Best Wi-Fi Connectivity During Summer Travel Season
Source: wefi

Key travel considerations have changed dramatically as more and more people rely on their mobile devices to stay connected while away from home. With two thirds of Americans planning at least one leisure trip this summer, wefi, the market leader in delivering actionable mobile intelligence and network analytics, today revealed the top U.S. hotels, beaches and airports with the best Wi-Fi connectivity for these road warriors. As evidenced in wefi’s findings, not all destinations provide the same level of connectivity.

wefi collected data from more than 45 million hotspots based on the implementation of its intelligent network selection solution within multiple cable operators throughout the U.S. The metrics are based on a 45-day average of Wi-Fi speeds for each location starting from April 1 to June 15, 2014.

As mobile devices have become more and more essential to people on the road, it’s important to consider places with the best bandwidth connectivity. If traveling by air, consider that the Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Michigan offers the fastest Wi-Fi, closely followed by Denver International Airport in Colorado. For beach-goers, Clearwater Beach, Florida tops the list of beaches with the fastest Wi-Fi, while four of the top nine are located in California.

Marine mammals trace anthropogenic structures at sea

July 22, 2014 Comments off

Marine mammals trace anthropogenic structures at sea
Source: Current Biology

On land, species from all trophic levels have adapted to fill vacant niches in environments heavily modified by humans (e.g. [1] ). In the marine environment, ocean infrastructure has led to artificial reefs, resulting in localized increases in fish and crustacean density [2] . Whether marine apex predators exhibit behavioural adaptations to utilise such a scattered potential resource is unknown. Using high resolution GPS data we show how infrastructure, including wind turbines and pipelines, shapes the movements of individuals from two seal species (Phoca vitulina and Halichoerus grypus). Using state-space models, we infer that these animals are using structures to forage. We highlight the ecological consequences of such behaviour, at a time of unprecedented developments in marine infrastructure.

See: Seals Are Drawn to Offshore Wind Farms (The Atlantic)

Evaluating the Effect of Smart Growth Policies on Travel Demand

July 21, 2014 Comments off

Evaluating the Effect of Smart Growth Policies on Travel Demand
Source: Transportation Research Board

TRB’s second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP 2) has released a project brief that provides transportation planning agencies with improved tools and methods to accurately and comprehensively integrate transportation investment decision making with land development and growth management.

London Tops MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index as Most Visited City

July 21, 2014 Comments off

London Tops MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index as Most Visited City
Source: MasterCard

London tops the list as the destination of choice for international travelers for the third time in four years, according to the annual MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index released today.

Now in its fourth year, the index provides a ranking of the 132 most travelled cities from around the world.

Rounding out the top five cities are Bangkok, Paris, Singapore and Dubai, which are benefiting from a surge in international travel fueled by an expanding middle class, innovations in luxury travel and rising need for business travel. The index also indicates this surge will continue, even with more technology and collaboration tools available to businesses.

Recommended Bicycle Lane Widths for Various Roadway Characteristics

July 19, 2014 Comments off

Recommended Bicycle Lane Widths for Various Roadway Characteristics
Source: Transportation Research Board

TRB’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Report 766: Recommended Bicycle Lane Widths for Various Roadway Characteristics presents an analysis of the research and design guidance for bicycle lane widths on existing travel lane widths and parking lane widths. The conclusions are most applicable to urban and suburban roadways with level grade and a posted speed limit of 30 mph and should be used cautiously for the design of roadways with motor vehicle speeds outside of the range of 25 to 35 mph, and in particular for higher-speed roadways.

Understanding the Value of Social Media at Airports for Customer Engagement

July 18, 2014 Comments off

Understanding the Value of Social Media at Airports for Customer Engagement
Source: Transportation Research Board

TRB’s Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Synthesis 56: Understanding the Value of Social Media at Airports for Customer Engagement compiles current literature and practice on how airport operators utilize social media to enhance customer engagement.

Future of Asia’s Finance: How Can it Meet Challenges of Demographic Change and Infrastructure Needs?

July 18, 2014 Comments off

Future of Asia’s Finance: How Can it Meet Challenges of Demographic Change and Infrastructure Needs?
Source: International Monetary Fund

There is a role for Asia’s financial sector to play to address the challenges associated with the region’s changing demographics and infrastructure investment needs. Enhancing financial innovation and integration in the region could facilitate intra-regional financial flows and mobilize resources from the aging savers in industrialized Asia to finance infrastructure investment in emerging Asia. Strengthening the financial ties within the region as well as with the global financial markets alongside appropriate prudential frameworks could also help diversify sources of financing and reduce the cost of funding in emerging Asia. Finally, financial deepening could help ease the potential overheating from scaling up infrastructure investment and hence achieve a more balanced growth in the region.

Hot Spots Vehicle Theft Report

July 17, 2014 Comments off

Hot Spots Vehicle Theft Report
Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau
From press release:

For 2013, the 10 MSAs with the highest vehicle theft rates were:

 

2013 Ranking 2012 Ranking
1. Bakersfield, Calif. 3.
2. Fresno, Calif. 2.
3. Modesto, Calif. 1.
4. San Francisco/Oakland/Hayward, Calif. 6.
5. Stockton-Lodi, Calif. 4.
6. Redding, Calif. 10.
7. Spokane-Spokane Valley, Wash. 9.
8. Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif. 8.
9. San Jose/Sunnyvale/Santa Clara, Calif. 7.
10. Yuba City, Calif. 31.

The Future of Driving in Developing Countries

July 17, 2014 Comments off

The Future of Driving in Developing Countries
Source: RAND Corporation

The level of automobility, defined as travel in personal vehicles, is often seen as a function of income: The higher a country’s per capita income, the greater the amount of driving. However, levels of automobility vary quite substantially between countries even at similar levels of economic development. This suggests that countries follow different mobility paths. The research detailed in this report sought to answer three questions: What are the factors besides economic development that affect automobility? What is their influence on automobility? What will happen to automobility in developing countries if they progress along similar paths as developed countries? To answer these questions, the authors developed a methodology to identify these factors, model their impact on developed countries, and forecast automobility (as defined by per capita vehicle-kilometers traveled [VKT]) in four developing countries. This methodology draws on quantitative analysis of historical automobility development in four country case studies (the United States, Australia, Germany, and Japan) that represent very different levels of per capita automobility, in combination with data derived from an expert-based qualitative approach. The authors used the latter to assess how these experiences may affect the future of automobility in the BRIC countries: Brazil, Russia, India, and China. According to this analysis, automobility levels in the four BRIC countries will fall between those of the United States (which has the highest per capita VKT level of the four case studies) and Japan (which has the lowest). Brazil is forecasted to have the highest per capita VKT and India the lowest.

IIHS issues recommendations on used vehicles for teens after research finds many aren’t driving the safest ones

July 17, 2014 Comments off

IIHS issues recommendations on used vehicles for teens after research finds many aren’t driving the safest ones
Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Many teenagers are driving vehicles that don’t offer good crash protection and lack important safety technology, new research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows. To help guide parents toward safer choices, IIHS has compiled its first-ever list of recommended used vehicles for teens.

IIHS is known for its ratings of new vehicles, but for many families, a 2014 TOP SAFETY PICK or TOP SAFETY PICK+ isn’t in the budget. In a national phone survey conducted for IIHS of parents of teen drivers, 83 percent of those who bought a vehicle for their teenagers said they bought it used.

With that reality in mind, the Institute has compiled a list of affordable used vehicles that meet important safety criteria for teen drivers (see below). There are two tiers of recommended vehicles with options at various price points, ranging from less than $5,000 to nearly $20,000, so parents can buy the most safety for their money, whatever their budget.

Global Opposition to U.S. Surveillance and Drones, but Limited Harm to America’s Image

July 16, 2014 Comments off

Global Opposition to U.S. Surveillance and Drones, but Limited Harm to America’s Image
Source: Pew Research Global Attitudes Project

Revelations about the scope of American electronic surveillance efforts have generated headlines around the world over the past year. And a new Pew Research Center survey finds widespread global opposition to U.S. eavesdropping and a decline in the view that the U.S. respects the personal freedoms of its people. But in most countries there is little evidence this opposition has severely harmed America’s overall image.

Vacationers Prefer to “Travel Like a Local” Using Public Transportation

July 16, 2014 Comments off

Vacationers Prefer to “Travel Like a Local” Using Public Transportation
Source: American Public Transportation Association

As the summer travel season kicks off, 124 million Americans are planning to vacation in a U.S. city, continuing a trend from recent years. The American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) annual “Travel Like a Local” Summer Travel Survey reports that public transportation will be highly utilized by these travelers looking for the most cost effective and worry-free form of transportation – especially Millennials and adults under 45.

According to the survey, more than half (58 percent) of those visiting U.S. cities plan to utilize public transportation for at least one activity. More than a quarter of these travelers say the availability of public transportation impacted their decision to travel to a particular city.

Among Millennials (18-34) and adults under 45, 67 percent confirmed that they plan to use public transportation during their trip to a major U.S. city or metropolitan area this summer. According to the travel survey, public transportation options make travel more cost effective and stress free for all ages. Seventy-four percent of travelers will use public transportation because it is less expensive than taxis or rental cars, with 73 percent saying public transportation relieves them of the worry of finding parking.

APTA’s survey found that two out of five vacationers will use public transportation to experience restaurant dining and local nightlife, while also continuing to use it during the day for general sightseeing and shopping.

A New Partnership: Rail Transit and Convention Growth

July 16, 2014 Comments off

A New Partnership: Rail Transit and Convention Growth (PDF)
Source: American Public Transportation Association

This joint report produced with the U.S. Travel Assocation examines how cities with rail stations connected directly to airport terminals can realize increases in hotel performance. The report compares six cities with direct rail access from their airport terminal to five cities without. The analysis found that from 2006-2013, hotels in the cities with direct rail access brought in 10.9% more revenue per room than hotels in those cities without.

New From the GAO

July 14, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Report
Source: Government Accountability Office

Military Training: Observations on Efforts to Prepare Personnel to Survive Helicopter Crashes into Water. GAO-14-615R, July 14.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-615R

The Societal Costs and Benefits of Commuter Bicycling: Simulating the Effects of Specific Policies Using System Dynamics Modeling

July 14, 2014 Comments off

The Societal Costs and Benefits of Commuter Bicycling: Simulating the Effects of Specific Policies Using System Dynamics Modeling
Source: Environmental Health Perspectives

Background:
Shifting to active modes of transport in the trip to work can achieve substantial co-benefits for health, social equity, and climate change mitigation. Previous integrated modeling of transport scenarios has assumed active transport mode share and has been unable to incorporate acknowledged system feedbacks.

Objectives:
We compared the effects of policies to increase bicycle commuting in a car-dominated city and explored the role of participatory modeling to support transport planning in the face of complexity.

Methods:
We used system dynamics modeling (SDM) to compare realistic policies, incorporating feedback effects, nonlinear relationships, and time delays between variables. We developed a system dynamics model of commuter bicycling through interviews and workshops with policy, community, and academic stakeholders. We incorporated best available evidence to simulate five policy scenarios over the next 40 years in Auckland, New Zealand. Injury, physical activity, fuel costs, air pollution, and carbon emissions outcomes were simulated.

Results:
Using the simulation model, we demonstrated the kinds of policies that would likely be needed to change a historical pattern of decline in cycling into a pattern of growth that would meet policy goals. Our model projections suggest that transforming urban roads over the next 40 years, using best practice physical separation on main roads and bicycle-friendly speed reduction on local streets, would yield benefits 10–25 times greater than costs.

Conclusions:
To our knowledge, this is the first integrated simulation model of future specific bicycling policies. Our projections provide practical evidence that may be used by health and transport policy makers to optimize the benefits of transport bicycling while minimizing negative consequences in a cost-effective manner. The modeling process enhanced understanding by a range of stakeholders of cycling as a complex system. Participatory SDM can be a helpful method for integrating health and environmental outcomes in transport and urban planning.

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