Innovative Research

We often help clients by conducting transportation analyses or studies, developing custom prototypes and IT solutions; and applying advanced analytics to support operations in both government and industry sectors. We have experience working with and providing these services to many Federal agencies including PHMSA, FMCSA, FRA, FAA, FEMA, and USCG. We are actively engaged in many U.S.-based industry stakeholder advisory groups, committees, and organizations. We are also very active in the Transportation Research Board (TRB); we hold leadership positions within the committees, we routinely conduct and present research of national interest, and we participate in cooperative research programs. 



Transportation Research 

We have led or participated in numerous studies to help advance the state of the practice for transportation analysis, research, and safety. We have experience working with key stakeholders in many industries and government agencies and often leverage those relationships to shape research objectives and desired outcomes.

We also have experience conducting surveys, and interviews, identifying research gaps and compiling research needs. Below are a few projects that we led in support of the TRB Hazardous Materials Cooperative Research Program (HMCRP):   


HMCRP HM-12: Hazardous Materials Transportation Risk Assessment: State of the Practice – This project focused on documenting and characterizing the current application of risk assessment to hazardous materials transportation. We identified gaps in available tools, techniques, and data and recommend a path forward for addressing these gaps and supporting better risk assessments in the future. A key component of this effort was identifying and interviewing relevant stakeholder representatives, including the development of an interview tracking system and interview template. 


HMCRP HM-10: Current Hazardous Materials Transportation Research and Future Needs – This project involved capturing recent, current, and planned hazardous materials transportation projects by organizations that sponsor or conduct research, identifying gaps in the research, developing a framework for prioritizing future research projects, and resulted in a prioritized list of proposed research projects for implementation. As with HM-12, identifying and interviewing relevant stakeholder representatives, implementing an interview tracking system, and developing an interview template helped to ensure the success of this project. 


HMCRP HM-10(1): Current Hazardous Materials Transportation Research and Future Needs, Phase 2 (Update) – This project involved updating the results of HM-10 (completed in April 2011) to reflect the most current information on existing hazardous materials transportation research, planned research, and determining research gaps.    

Risk Analysis and Risk Management  

We routinely help clients by performing risk analysis and risk management support in various contexts including transportation, fixed facilities, and community planning. Risk management is not just a means to identify and mitigate potential risk, it is also an integral part of modern thinking on business and organizational management.

We have experience incorporating risk analysis into operational decision-making. We also have experience developing sophisticated risk models that consider factors such as accident rates, conditional release probabilities, social equity, and consequence exposure to accidents and natural hazards. We are providing support and analysis for the National Risk Index (NRI) – an innovative tool that helps FEMA better understand the risks posed to all communities in the U.S. by eighteen different natural hazard types (e.g., tornado, cold wave, drought, hurricane, flood, etc.). Traditional risk assessments consider one hazard at a time. The NRI is unique in its ability to convey singular and composite risks and consider social vulnerability and community resilience. The NRI was previously processed at the County and Census Tract levels. FACTOR is transforming the NRI by geospatially processing all eighteen hazard types at the Census Block level and significantly improving the efficacy of the risk calculation procedures. The 150-fold increase in data required the development of innovative big data processing procedures and storage techniques.

Commodity Flow Studies  

Understanding how freight and hazardous materials move within the supply chain is essential for community and emergency response planning. We help clients gather public and private data, analyze commodity flow, identify alternate routes, and develop models to predict market changes using “what-if” scenarios.

We conducted a commodity flow study for the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services with a strategic partner to help inform Federal, State, and local officials about the growth of energy production (i.e., crude oil, natural gas, and other chemicals), manufacturing, and agriculture in the state, and how this growth will shape future transportation planning and emergency response needs. As part of the study, we developed a risk assessment based on multiple variables, including GIS data, to identify high-risk transportation corridors across highway, rail, and pipeline networks. 

Restricted Route Registry Studies  

We have experience conducting restricted route registry studies in accordance with FMCSA regulations published in 49 CFR 397.71(b) and other guidance published by the U.S. DOT, including the FHWA Guidelines for Applying Criteria to Designate Routes for Transporting Hazardous Materials and TRB Hazardous Materials Cooperative Research Program (HMCRP) Report 3: Guidebook for Conducting Local Hazardous Materials Commodity Flow Studies – Sponsored by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration (PHMSA).

We typically conduct a literature review, collect public and private geospatial and traffic data, and consult with industry experts to obtain sufficient information on the pre-defined factors for determining routing designations. This includes obtaining regional data on population density, highway grades, and conditions, accident rates, congestion, environmental conditions, etc. We use previous studies and other public or private data sources to establish baselines for commodity flow as well as for alternate routes and modes of transportation. We also conduct interviews, surveys, and discovery with local agencies, facilities, shippers, and carriers. We maintain a repository of vetted national and state-wide GIS data sources for population and environmental receptors that can be readily leveraged and a proprietary geospatial transportation risk analysis engine, VRiskRoute, that can combine and process these data. Analysis results are presented in thematic maps to support stakeholder communication and presentation.

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