Data, particularly data for freight planning, is a topic often on the minds of agency staff as the world becomes ever more measured and data rich. Evaluating and effectively using these new sources of data is a challenge for public sector planners. The growing emphasis on understanding freight activity, coupled with evolving software and data resources, can be overwhelming for busy staff. In recognition of this, The Eastern Transportation Coalition, (formerly the I-95 Corridor Coalition) at the direction of the Freight Committee, undertook a project to examine Freight Data resources to assist public sector practitioners in their understanding of various data sources that may be applicable to their work.

The White Paper “Demystifying Freight Data” seeks to provide some background on the theoretical context around freight data, and to begin to provide practical recommendations for public agency transportation planners/practitioners. It also includes a discussion around data terms which are often confused.

The associated “Freight Data Matrix Metadata Document” (an Excel spreadsheet) is intended to familiarize practitioners with the various attributes within freight data sources for understanding and comparison for potential uses in planning. The associated” Freight Data Matrix User Guide” is intended for informational and instructional guidance to use the Freight Data Matrix Metadata Document.

These documents do not purport to answer all questions and guidance on understanding and applying freight data, nor does it include all data sources that can be utilized for freight planning. The Coalition views this White Paper and the Freight Data Matrix Metadata Document and Freight Data Matrix User Guide as part of the on-going discussion and effort by the Freight Committee to continue to enhance knowledge and understanding of freight data and data resources and to complement other resources on freight data.

The Coalition Freight Committee will build on this work including sharing of information, knowledge and best practices on freight data applications as well as expanding and updating content/sources in the Freight Data Matrix, as applicable, to support our members as they navigate the complex world of freight data for planning and related purposes.

Demystifying Freight Data: Theory, Terms, and Practical Recommendations – August 2020

User Guide – The Eastern Transportation Coalition – Freight Data Matrix – August 2020

TETC Freight Data Matrix Metadata – August 2020