Data Practices Introduction

  • Date: February 18, 2022

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The National Center for Applied Transit Technology (N-CATT) is a technical assistance center with a mission to provide small urban, rural, and tribal transit agencies with practical resources that help them apply technological solutions and innovations. With better data, a transit agency can more clearly predict future needs, streamline its operations, and better serve the diverse needs within its community. But for small urban, rural, and tribal transit agencies, making good use of data—let alone generating or storing it—requires navigating an ever-growing set of data sources, standards, and analytical methods. To this end, N-CATT presents the Data Practices Guidebook, a resource for agencies seeking actionable insights from data.

At transit agencies, data addresses subjects from customer demographics to agency performance to financial conditions. Though data is often a byproduct of of fare collection, transit operations, or other agency functions, data can also be collected through open data portals, partnerships, or other third- parites. Through more deliberate internal data collection and management efforts, agencies can maximize the value of data in contributing to problem-solving and service improvement. Figure 1 illustrates the cycle of using transit data to solve problems and improve service, while providing an implementation example.

Cycle of Data Use to Solve Problems and Improve Services
Figure 1: Cycle of Data Use to Solve Problems and Improve Services