ITS-Irvine Received NSF Smart & Connected Communities Grant


The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently awarded the ITS-Irvine research proposal entitled ‘Revamping Regional Transportation Modeling and Planning to Address Unprecedented Community Needs during the Mobility Revolution’ $1.5 million over 4 years through its Smart & Connected Communities program. The ITS-Irvine team has partnered directly with the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), the metropolitan planning organization (MPO) covering San Diego County, to conduct the research and improve sustainability, equity, accessibility, and mobility (SEAM) outcomes in the San Diego region.

The ITS-Irvine team includes Civil & Environmental Engineering faculty members Mike Hyland, Steve Ritchie, Mike McNally, R. Jayakrishnan, and Wenlong Jin as well as Urban Planning & Public Policy faculty member Nick Marantz. The project team also includes ITS-Irvine Assistant Director for Research Coordination/Research Projects Craig Rindt.

The goal of the research project is to develop a new approach to regional transportation planning and modeling that takes advantage of emerging smart transportation technologies as well as the policies these technologies enable, while overcoming many of the theoretical, methodological, and practical shortcomings of existing regional transportation planning and modeling approaches. Moreover, unlike previous planning and modeling paradigms that treat important issues such as environmental justice as a constraint that needs to be met while focusing on other planning objectives, this research bring environmental and social justice and equity to the forefront of regional planning while developing a modeling approach that optimizes for equity alongside sustainability, accessibility, and mobility.

The research team will initially focus on assessing the wide range of big data sources available for regional planning purposes, developing models of shared mobility services like the ride-hailing and ride-sharing services provided by Uber and Lyft in the San Diego region, and developing a holistic framework and metrics for equity analysis.

The research team will also develop an improved approach to regional transportation system modeling that includes (i) optimizing infrastructure investments alongside transportation and land-use policy decisions (using advanced artificial intelligence-based methods) considering the SEAM metrics, (ii) using multi-resolution modeling techniques to identify and evaluate promising investments and policies, (iii) integrating housing and land-use planning decisions with transportation planning decisions, (iv) capturing the evolution of transportation and landuse systems through time, (v) utilizing emerging data sources to estimate, calibrate, and validate models, while monitoring SANDAG’s transportation system