TRB Visualization Conference provides a host of new ideas for presenting data

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PCAC staff members, Associate Director Jan Wells and Senior Transportation Planner Ellyn Shannon, recently attended the Transportation Research Board (TRB) 6th International Visualization in Transportation Symposium.  The meeting was held in Chicago and featured leading experts and practioners from around the world.   In a Public Engagement workshop Wells and Shannon presented the problem that marks the MTA: DRIP — data rich, information poor.  While the MTA is the most transparent public transportation agency in the country, producing 1,000 pages of data every month which is available on its website, most riders and elected officials do not have the inclination or time to wade through this volume of material.  Further, understanding what it all means is another challenge.  In the conference’s interactive setting attendees learned how to incorporate a variety of visualization tools into a public involvement strategy.

Visualization in transportation is an emerging field that uses many applications and tools.  Loosely formed in the mid-1990s, visualization became a recognized TRB committee in 2005 and was energized by a visualization mandate written into the 2005 SAFTEA-LU Act.  Here are several websites that explain and help with visualization applications:

choosingviz.org
This web portal is designed to be your one-stop shop for effectively applying visualization tools and technicques in public involvement.  It was created for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) by Professor Laxmi Ramasubramanian, Hunter College, New York City.

Dr. Steier, a Keynote Speaker at the Symposium, made an outstanding presentation on visualization in the context of business decisions and information overload.

http://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_shows_the_best_stats_you_ve_ever_seen.html
Dr. Han Rosling is a pioneer in visualization of data, having developed the visualization software”Gapminder” which was acquired by Google.  You’ve probably never seen data presented like this. With the drama and urgency of a sportscaster, statistics guru Hans Rosling debunks myths about the so-called “developing world.”

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