US DoT award to CEIE: Harnessing the Power of Big Data in Support of USDOT Strategic Goals

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George Mason University, as part of a consortium led by the University at Buffalo, was selected in a highly competitive national competition to establish the Transportation Informatics University Transportation Center (TransInfo UTC), a two-year, $4.2-million Tier 1 University Transportation Research Center. The consortium also includes Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez. In addition, CUBRC, a not-for-profit, Research Corporation headquartered in Buffalo, NY, will serve as a non-member partner.

The theme of TransInfo UTC is “Harnessing the Power of Big Data in Support of USDOT Strategic Goals”. Thanks to the latest advances in information technologies, the transportation system is operating in an extremely data-rich environment. The volume, variety, quality and resolution of transportation-related “Big Data” currently present the transportation community with an unprecedented opportunity for improving system performance. TransInfo’s research and educational activities is to compile, fuse, and mine various data streams to support a wide range of transportation applications in traffic operations, safety, emergency operations, travel behavior modeling, and performance measurement. As such, TransInfo UTC directly addresses the US Department of Transportation (US DOT) Strategic Goal of “Economic competitiveness”, and at the same time touches upon the goals of “Safety”, “Environmental Sustainability”, “Livable Communities”, and the “State of Good Repair”.

CEIE faculty, Dr. Shanjiang Zhu, PI of the GMU sub-award, will lead the research, education, and technology transfer activities of TransInfo UTC at GMU. Dr. Mohan Venigalla serves as the Co-PI.  Support from the Sid and Reva Dewberry Department of Civil, Environmental, and Infrastructure Engineering, the Volgenau School of Engineering, and George Mason University were important for winning this proposal. In addition, the GMU team has received strong support from Virginia Department of Transportation through its research division, the Virginia Center for Transportation Innovation & Research (VCTIR), and the Northern Virginia District Office (VDOT-NoVA). “Our Partnership with George Mason University has been extremely valuable in addressing a variety of transportation-related issues”, said Dr. José Gomez, Director of VCTIR.  Mr. Kanthi Srikanth, Planning & Investment Director of VDOT-NoVA, also highly praised this partnership.  Mr. Srikanth and research scientists Michael Fontaine and John Miller from the Virginia Center for Transportation Innovation and Research serve on the department’s Special Advisory Panel for the transportation program at GMU.

This support and these new opportunities brought about by TransInfo UTC, the transportation program of GMU will accelerate the department’s rising visibility as a national player in transportation research.