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April 03, 2020
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Federal grant gives a green light to TransMap project

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Researchers at the University of Arkansas are creating a "visual decision space" that will help government and industry leaders better manage multi-modal transportation systems nationwide.

Researchers at the University of Arkansas are using technology to improve the way government and industry manages multi-modal transportation systems nationwide, thanks to a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration, the University said this week.

Over the next three years, researchers will develop the Transportation and Maritime Analytics Partnerships Hub, or "TransMap," which will use big data to provide real-time, interactive maps and other geospatial data to help government agencies and industry plan, build, and maintain transportation infrastructure, including roads and highways, rail lines, and waterways. The project helps promote the development of "efficient, resilient, and sustainable" multimodal transportation nationwide, according to Heather Nachtmann, professor of industrial engineering and director of the University of Arkansas-led Maritime Transportation Research and Education Center (MarTREC).

Nachtmann and her MarTREC colleagues will use existing smart technologies to develop an integrated system that will capture, curate, and disseminate high volumes of data in visual format, according to the University. Nachtmann refers to TransMap as a "visual decision space" for transportation officials and the broader public, available as a government-hosted website. Officials will be able to use TransMap to plan and manage infrastructure, and others can use it as a tool to evaluate increasingly complex transportation networks, the University also said.

The researchers expect to release a prototype website by September 2022, according to Nachtmann.

MarTREC is one of 20 centers nationwide designated as a Tier 1 University Transportation Center, which refers to the level of grant funding it can receive from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The center is a consortium of researchers from Jackson State University in Mississippi, Louisiana State University, the University of New Orleans, Vanderbilt University, Texas A&M University, and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. 

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