The U. S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) is launching two pilot programs to modernize its data analysis and utilize its Big Data sources to gain insights into transportation safety.

The first project will integrate established data on known crashes and highway design with anonymous data from GPS-enabled devices that provides prevailing speeds at 5-minute intervals across the entire national highway system. For the first time, USDOT will be able to look directly at prevailing operating speeds at a large scale to see how speed interacts with roadway characteristics to influence the likelihood of crashes.

The second project will integrate traffic crash data with data from the crowd-sourced app Waze on traffic hazards and conditions. This initiative will examine the feasibility of using the app to provide a reliable, timely indicator of reportable traffic crashes, and estimate crash risk based on Waze-reported hazards.

“Advances in data science have the potential to transform the Department’s approach to safety research and provide insights that can help improve highway safety,” said U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.