OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

college of engineering

‘Dilbert of academia’ cartoonist Jorge Cham to speak at OSU on Feb. 8

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Jorge Cham, creator of the “Piled Higher and Deeper” comic strip, will give a free presentation at 9 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 8, in the Austin Auditorium at the LaSells Stewart Center on Oregon State University’s Corvallis campus, 875 S.W. 26th St.

The title of his OSU presentation, sponsored by the College of Engineering, is “The Science Gap,” which refers to the disconnect between researchers and the public both in terms of perception and communication. In 2012, Cham gave a TEDx talk at UCLA on the same topic.

“Piled Higher Deeper” – PHD for short – is often described as the “Dilbert of academia” and has an online readership of more than 7 million. The strip has also appeared in university newspapers at Stanford, MIT, Caltech, Carnegie Mellon and other institutions.

Born and raised in Panama, Cham is a roboticist with a master’s and Ph.D. from Stanford who from 2003 to 2005 was a research associate at Caltech, focusing on smart neural implants.

Cham is also co-author of the book “We Have No Idea” and will do a book signing following his presentation. The book by Cham and Daniel Whiteson, a particle physicist, unfolds along the theme that humanity has yet to figure out what composes 95 percent of the universe.

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Jorge Cham

OSU ember research: Smaller branches pack the fastest, biggest fire-spreading punch

CORVALLIS, Ore. – As the West tallies the damages from the 2017 wildfire season, researchers at Oregon State University are trying to learn more about how embers form and about the blaze-starting potential they carry.

Preliminary findings indicate the diameter of the branches that are burning is the biggest single factor behind which ones will form embers the most quickly and how much energy they’ll pack.

“Increased population in the wildland-urban interface means increased risk to life and property from wildland fires,” said Tyler Hudson, a graduate student in the College of Engineering. “Spot fires started by embers lofted ahead of the main fire front are difficult to predict and can jump defensible space around structures.”

Research shows smaller-diameter branches are better at producing embers, also known as firebrands.

“Embers are wildfires’ most challenging mode of causing spread,” said David Blunck, assistant professor of mechanical engineering. “By understanding how embers form and travel through the air, scientists can more accurately predict how fire will spread. We have a multiscale approach that involves burning samples in a laboratory setting, larger burns – burning 10-foot-tall trees – and then working with the U.S. Forest Service to participate in prescribed burns.”

In his lab, Blunck’s research group controls multiple parameters which can influence generation rates: fire intensity, crosswind velocity, species of tree, diameter of the sample, fuel condition (natural vs. processed), and moisture content of the fuel.

“Fire intensity had little effect on the time needed for ember generation,” Hudson said. “And natural samples and dowels with similar diameters can have quite different ember generation times.”

Using samples of Douglas fir, western juniper, ponderosa pine and white oak with diameters of 2 and 6 millimeters, the researchers determined that 2-millimeter samples generated embers roughly five times as fast as 6-millimeter samples.

This trend can be explained by the observation that the bending stress is proportional to 1 divided by the cube of the diameter – thus, the larger the diameter, the smaller amount of bending stress and a lesser likelihood of breakage, and ember creation. Moreover, smaller diameters have less fuel that needs to be burned.

In the field, researchers can track embers’ energy “from the time they leave the tree until they get to their destination,” Hudson said, using techniques ranging from infrared videography to measuring scorch marks on squares of fire-resistant fabric placed on the ground at varying distances from the fire. 

Blunck, Hudson and fellow mechanical engineering graduate student Mick Carter presented their preliminary findings in April at the 10th edition of the biennial U.S. National Combustion Meeting in College Park, Maryland.

In August, Blunck was among a group of collaborators receiving a $500,000 grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology “for the development of a computer model that will define patterns for firebrand distribution during wildland-urban interface fires and their likelihood of igniting nearby structures.”

This past fire season in Oregon, roughly 2,000 fires combined to burn more than a half-million acres – that’s about 1,000 square miles, an area the size of Rhode Island.

One of the most devastating of those blazes was the Eagle Creek fire in the Columbia River Gorge, which scorched nearly 50,000 acres and threatened the historic Multnomah Falls Lodge – and provided a terrifying illustration of what embers can do.

“The fire jumped the river and started burning in Washington because of embers,” Blunck said. “We estimate that the fire jumped 2 miles across the river.”

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Ember research

NASA looks for citizen scientists to collect snowpack depth measurements

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is looking for snowshoers, backcountry skiers and snow-machine users in the Pacific Northwest to gather data to use in computer modeling for snow-water equivalent, or SWE.

SWE refers to how much water a particular amount of snow contains, information that’s important to scientists, engineers, and land and watershed managers.

NASA is funding a four-year project that involves an Oregon State University civil engineering professor, David Hill, and Ph.D. student, Ryan Crumley, as well as researchers at the University of Washington and the Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys.

The project is called Community Snow Observations and is part of NASA’s Citizen Science for Earth Systems program.

“Our initial model runs show that the citizen science measurements are doing an amazing job of improving our simulations,” said David Hill of the OSU College of Engineering. “NASA has an unbelievable number of satellite assets in the sky producing incredible information about what’s going on in the earth’s systems, and they’re leveraging information and expertise from the public to make their product even better.”

Getting involved in Community Snow Observations is easy. A smartphone, the free Mountain Hub application, and an avalanche probe with graduated markings in centimeters are the only tools a recreationist needs.

As citizen scientists make their way through the mountains, they use their avalanche probes to take snow depth readings that they then upload into Mountain Hub, a fully featured app for outdoor users.

That’s all there is to it.

“Traditionally, the types of models we run have relied on ‘point’ measurements, such as snow telemetry stations,” Hill said. “Citizen scientists who are traveling in backcountry snow environments can provide us with much more data than those stations provide.”

Community Snow Observations kicked off in February 2017. Led by Hill, Gabe Wolken of the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Anthony Arendt of the University of Washington, the project has so far focused primarily on Alaskan snowpacks. Researchers are now looking to recruit citizen scientists in the Pacific Northwest as well, and if possible in the Rocky Mountain region also.

Alaska Fairbanks has spearheaded the public involvement aspect of the project, while the UW’s chief role is managing the data. Hill and Crumley are responsible for the modeling.

Which particular geographic areas get modeled “is kind of up to the public,” Hill said, adding that the more the data are spread out over time and space, the better.

“The models take into account the temporal densification of the snowpack and the spatial variability in snow-water equivalent and how snow properties are always changing, even in a given location,” he said. “If we get a whole bunch of measurements on one day in one spot, that has value, but the more we can get things stretched out, the more coverage we get, the better modeling products we can produce.”

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Snowpack research

With ‘material robotics,’ intelligent products won’t even look like robots

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Robots as inconspicuous as they are ubiquitous represent the vision of researchers in the new and burgeoning field of material robotics.

In an invited perspective paper published today in Science Robotics, Oregon State University researcher Yiğit Mengüç and three co-authors argue against looking at robotics as a “dichotomy of brain versus body.”

Mengüç and collaborators from the University of Colorado, Yale University and École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne take a view that seeks to dissolve the basic assumption that robots are either “machines that run bits of code” or “software ‘bots’ interacting with the world through a physical instrument.”

“We take a third path: one that imbues intelligence into the very matter of a robot,” said Mengüç, assistant professor of mechanical engineering in OSU’s College of Engineering and part of the college’s Collaborative Robotics and Intelligent Systems Institute. “The future we’re dreaming of is one of material-enabled robotics, something akin to robots themselves being integrated into day-to-day objects.”

Such as footwear, for example.

“Shoes that are able to intelligently support your gait, change stiffness as you’re running or walking, or based upon the surface you’re on or the biomechanics of your foot,” Mengüç said. “That’s one potential product. Examples of that kind of material intelligence abound in nature, where complex functionality results from systems of simple materials.

“The point here with something like a self-adjusting shoe is it no longer resembles a robot – that’s kind of the direction of ubiquity we’re imagining.”

Mengüç notes that as technology becomes more capable it tends to follow a pattern of disappearing into the background of everyday life.

“Take smartphones,” he said. “Autocorrect, a very small and impoverished version of artificial intelligence, is ubiquitous.

“In the future, your smartphone may be made from stretchable, foldable material so there’s no danger of it shattering. Or it might have some actuation, where it changes shape in your hand to help with the display, or it can be able to communicate something about what you’re observing on the screen. What I would see as success for material robotics is where the technology we make is not static anymore – all these bits and pieces of technology that we take for granted in life will be living, physically responsive things, moving, changing shape in response to our needs, not just flat, static screens.”

At present, the authors note, two distinct approaches remain for creating composite materials that match the complexity of functional biological tissue: new materials synthesis and system-level integration of material components. 

Materials scientists are developing new bulk materials with the inherent multifunctionality required for robotic applications, while roboticists are working on new material systems with tightly integrated components.

“The convergence of these approaches will ultimately yield the next generation of material-enabled robots,” Mengüç said. “It’s a natural partnership that will lead to robots with brains in their bodies – inexpensive and ever-present robots integrated into the real world.”

Joining Mengüç in authoring the paper were Nikolaus Correll of the University of Colorado, Rebecca Kramer of Yale, and Jamie Paik of École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland.

They were invited to contribute their thoughts on the state and direction of material robotics after organizing a workshop on the subject at the “Robotics: Science and Systems” conference held in July at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

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OSU researcher part of DARPA grant for autonomous drone swarms

CORVALLIS, Ore. – An Oregon State University computer science professor is part of a team that will receive up to $7.1 million to develop a drone swarm infrastructure to help the U.S. military in urban combat.

The contract is part of the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s OFFSET program, short for Offensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics. The program’s goal, according to DARPA’s website, is “to empower … troops with technology to control scores of unmanned air and ground vehicles at a time.”

Julie A. Adams of OSU’s College of Engineering is on one of two teams of “swarm systems integrators” whose job is to develop the system infrastructure and integrate the work of the “sprint” teams that will focus on swarm tactics, swarm autonomy, human-swarm teaming, physical experimentation and virtual environments.

Raytheon BBN, a key research and development arm of the Raytheon Company, a major defense contractor, leads Adams’ team. The team also includes Smart Information Flow Technologies, a research and development firm. Northrop Grumman, an aerospace and defense technology company, heads the other team of integrators.

Adams, the associate director for deployed systems and policy at the college’s Collaborative Robotics and Intelligent Systems Institute, is the only university-based principal investigator on either team of integrators.

Researchers envision swarms of more than 250 autonomous vehicles – multi-rotor aerial drones, and ground rovers – to gather information and assist troops in “concrete canyon” surroundings where line-of-sight, satellite-based communication is impaired by buildings.

The information the swarms collect can help keep U.S. troops more safe, and civilians in the battle areas more safe as well.

“I specifically will work on swarm interaction grammar – how we take things like flanking or establishing a perimeter and create a system of translations that will allow someone to use those tactics,” Adams said. “We want to be able to identify algorithms to go with the tactics and tie those things together, and also identify how operators interact with the use of a particular tactic.

“Our focus is on the individuals who will be deployed with the swarms, and our intent is to develop enhanced interactive capabilities: speech, gestures, a head tilt, tactile interaction. If a person is receiving information from a swarm, he might have a belt that vibrates. We want to make the interaction immersive and more understandable for humans and enable them to interact with the swarm.”

Adams noted that China last summer launched a record swarm of 119 fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicles.

“Right now we don’t have the infrastructure available for testing the capabilities of large swarms,” Adams said. “Advances have been made with indoor systems, including accurately tracking individual swarm members and by using simulations. Those are good first steps but they don’t match what will happen in the real world. Those approaches allow for testing and validation of some system aspects but they don’t allow for full system validation.”

The integrators’ objective is for operators to interact with the swarm as a whole, or subgroups of the swarm, and not individual agents – like a football coach orchestrating his entire offense as it runs a play.

“What the agents do individually is simple; what they do as a whole is much more interesting,” said Adams, likening a drone swarm to a school of fish acting in concert in response to a predator. “We’ve got these ‘primitives’” – basic actions a swarm can execute – “and we’ll map these primitives to algorithms for the individual agents in the swarm, and determine how humans can interact with the swarm based on all of these things. We want to advance and accelerate enabling swarm technologies that focus on swarm autonomy and how humans can interact and team with the swarm.” 

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Traffic signal countdown timers lead to improved driver responses

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Countdown timers that let motorists know when a traffic light will go from green to yellow lead to safer responses from drivers, research at Oregon State University suggests.

The findings are important because of mistakes made in what traffic engineers call the “dilemma zone” – the area in which a driver isn’t sure whether to stop or keep going when the light turns yellow.

A traffic signal countdown timer, or TSCT, is a clock that digitally displays the time remaining for the current stoplight indication – i.e., red, yellow or green. 

Widely adopted by roughly two dozen countries around the world, traffic signal countdown timers are not used in the U.S. Crosswalk timers for pedestrians are allowed, but TSCTs are prohibited by the Department of Transportation.

“When you introduce inconsistencies – sometimes you give drivers certain information, sometimes you don’t – that has the potential to cause confusion,” said David Hurwitz, transportation engineering researcher in OSU’s College of Engineering and corresponding author on the study.

There were more than 37,000 traffic fatalities in the United States in 2016. Around 20 percent of those occurred at intersections, he said.

It’s not known exactly how many U.S. intersections are signalized because no agency does a comprehensive count, but the National Transportation Operations Coalition estimates the number to be greater than 300,000.

A significant percentage of those feature fixed-time signals, which are recommended in areas with low vehicle speed and heavy pedestrian traffic.

Traffic signal countdown timers work well at fixed-time signals, Hurwitz said, but they may not be practical for actuated signals; at those intersections, he said, a light typically changes only one to four seconds after the decision to change it is made – not enough time for a countdown timer to be of value.

In this study, which used a green signal countdown timer, or GSCT, in Oregon State’s driving simulator, the clock counted down the final 10 seconds of a green indication.

A subject pool of 55 drivers ranging in age from 19 to 73 produced a data set of 1,100 intersection interactions, half of which involved a GSCT. The presence of the countdown timer increased the probability that a driver in the dilemma zone would stop by an average of just over 13 percent and decreased deceleration rates by an average of 1.50 feet per second.

“These results suggest that the information provided to drivers by GSCTs may contribute to improved intersection safety in the U.S.,” Hurwitz said. “When looking at driver response, deceleration rates were more gentle when presented with the countdown timers, and we did not find that drivers accelerated to try to beat the light – those are positives for safety. Drivers were significantly more likely to slow down and stop when caught in the dilemma zone. The results in the lab were really consistent and statistically convincing.”

The findings, published recently in Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, build on a 2016 paper in Transportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies.

The earlier results, which arose from a related research project, showed drivers were more ready to go when the light turned green at intersections with a red signal countdown timer, which indicates how much time remains until the light goes from red to green. The first vehicle in line got moving an average of 0.82 seconds more quickly in the presence of a timer, suggesting an intersection efficiency improvement thanks to reduction in time lost to startups.

The papers comprised dissertation work by then Ph.D. student Mohammad Islam, who now works for a Beaverton, Oregon-based company, Traffic Technology Services. Amy Wyman, an OSU Honors College undergraduate who completed her degree in 2017, collaborated on the publication.

TTS, whose chief executive officer, Thomas Bauer, is also an OSU College of Engineering alumnus, has developed a cloud-computer-connected countdown timer for the automotive industry.

Several cars in the German luxury carmaker Audi’s 2017 lineup already feature the timer, which can be viewed both on the instrument panel and via a heads-up display. The system is currently operational in several U.S. cities including Portland.

Unlike the traffic-signal-mounted timers, the onboard clocks are allowed in the U.S. 

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Yellow lights

The "dilemma zone"

Oregon State to host grid energy storage symposium

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Leaders in energy storage technology will converge on the Oregon State University campus Nov. 5-6 for a symposium to discuss opportunities and challenges for next-generation, large-scale grid energy storage systems in the Pacific Northwest and nationwide.

The meeting, expected to draw 100 to 150 participants, is intended to serve as a forum for industry representatives, utility companies, academic and government researchers, and policymakers to discuss energy storage and potential major applications in the region.

 “This meeting brings together the thought leaders who are driving the implementation of novel energy storage systems for the grid, wave power, and other sustainable energy technologies,” said conference chair Zhenxing Feng, assistant professor of chemical engineering in OSU’s College of Engineering. “These are the enabling technologies that can make the dream of 100 percent renewable energy into a reality.”

The symposium is being organized by Oregon State with assistance from the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research, a public/private partnership established by the U.S. Department of Energy in 2012. Topics for discussion include the status of current battery technology, challenges and opportunities in the emerging sectors of transportation and the energy grid, energy resilience in the electrical grid, special needs in Oregon, and commercialization and manufacturing opportunities throughout the region.

Invited presenters include researchers from Argonne National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Idaho National Laboratory, as well as representatives from industry, such as Lebanon, Oregon-based Entek International LLC.

The agenda includes keynote speakers, panel discussions, breakout sessions and a poster session networking event. Also planned are tours to a local utility company and Oregon State’s state-of-the-art facility for energy storage and materials characterization research.

More information and registration are available online at cbee.oregonstate.edu/energy-storage-symposium. 

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Keith Hautala, 541-737-1478

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Ocean Sentinel

Testing wave energy

Oregon State University students receive almost $40 million in scholarships

CORVALLIS, Ore. – More than $39.5 million in scholarship money has been awarded to students at Oregon State University for the 2017-18 academic year, a key component of OSU President Ed Ray’s Student Success Initiative.

Roughly $24.5 million of the total is spread among 7,271 scholarships to those who were students prior to this academic year. The rest is for awards to 2,532 incoming students, including 34 who received a $10,000-per-year Presidential Scholarship, OSU’s most prestigious undergraduate scholarship.

Approximately 35 percent of this year’s first-year students are receiving scholarship support.

The same percentage applies to the College of Engineering, whose students account for almost one-third of the $39.5 million total. Engineering students are receiving $12.7 million, with $7.9 million divided among 1,948 scholarships to students enrolled prior to this fall. Nineteen of the 804 incoming scholarship students are Presidential Scholars.

“Over the past decade, our total enrollment has increased by 150 percent, making us the 11th-largest engineering program in the United States,” said Scott Ashford, Kearney Professor and dean of the College of Engineering. “We need to make the OSU engineering degree financially accessible to every qualified Oregonian and underrepresented populations, and scholarships help us achieve that goal.”

More than $7.5 million in scholarship money is going to College of Science students, the college’s highest total ever, said Roy Haggerty, dean of the college. That is triple the amount awarded two years ago. Reasons for the jump include increases in university scholarships and in high-achieving students enrolling in the college.

Nearly $5 million is spread among 1,344 scholarships to students enrolled prior to fall term. The rest is for awards to 570 incoming students, including nine who received a Presidential Scholarship.

More than half of the college’s first-year students are receiving scholarship support.

“Scholarships enable the college to attract, retain and inspire top science students, most of whom go on to high-achieving careers in industry, graduate school, medical school and other professional programs after graduation,” Haggerty said. “Oregon State’s financial-need-based scholarships also help academically talented low-income and first-generation students from Oregon and elsewhere stay and excel in college.”

First-generation students typically have a greater financial need so scholarships are a crucial part of their educational equation, said Haggerty, who was the first in his family to attend college.

“In our college, the number of first-generation students has risen from 20 percent to 29 percent in the last five years,” he said. “Many scholarship students in the College of Science attest to the value of scholarships in easing the financial burden on their families and enabling them to focus on academics, research, volunteer activities and post-college career goals.”

At the College of Business, more than $3.7 million in scholarship money has been awarded, including roughly $2.3 million spread among 761 scholarships to students enrolled before fall term. The remainder is for awards to 276 incoming students, including one Presidential Scholar.

About 29 percent of this year’s first-year business students are receiving scholarship support.

“It’s very important for us to remove as many financial obstacles as possible for our students to help make their decision to attend college and return year after year easier,” said Mitzi Montoya, Sara Hart Kimball dean of the College of Business. “Our students are working hard in and outside the classroom, gaining experiences that are preparing them to be profession-ready. Scholarship support means they can focus more on being successful students and less on how they’ll pay for tuition or textbooks.”

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Study shows high cost of truckers not having enough places to park and rest

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A pilot study by Oregon State University illustrates the high economic cost of having too few safe places for commercial truck drivers to park and rest.

Over a seven-year period on one 290-mile stretch of highway alone, at-fault truck crashes resulted in approximately $75 million of “crash harm,” research conducted by the OSU College of Engineering for the Oregon Department of Transportation shows.

“Current crash data collection forms don’t have an explicit section for truck-parking-related crashes, but we can operate under the assumption that specific types of at-fault truck crashes, such as those due to fatigue, may be the result of inadequate parking,” said the study’s lead author, Salvador Hernandez, a transportation safety and logistics researcher at Oregon State.

Hernandez and graduate research assistant Jason Anderson analyzed Oregon’s portion of U.S. Highway 97, which runs the entire north-south distance of the state along the eastern slope of the Cascade Range.

Highway 97 was chosen, Hernandez said, because the idea for the study originated from ODOT’s office in Bend, which is near the highway’s Oregon midpoint. An impetus for the research was the 2012 passage of “Jason’s Law,” which prioritized federal funding to address a national shortage of truck parking.

Jason’s Law is named for truck driver Jason Rivenburg, who was robbed and fatally shot in South Carolina in 2009 after pulling off to rest at an abandoned gas station.

For “property-carrying drivers,” as opposed to bus operators, federal rules require drivers to get off the road after 11 hours and to park and rest for at least 10 hours before driving again.

“Around the country, commercial drivers are often unable to find safe and adequate parking to meet hours-of-service regulations,” Hernandez said. “This holds true in Oregon, where rest areas and truck stops in high-use corridors have a demand for truck parking that exceeds capacity. That means an inherent safety concern for all highway users, primarily due to trucks parking in undesignated areas or drivers exceeding the rules to find a place to park.”

Researchers looked at what other states were doing in response to the parking issue, surveyed more than 200 truck drivers, assessed current and future parking demand on Highway 97, and used historical crash data to identify trends and hot spots and to estimate crash harm.

“Crash trends in terms of time of day, day of the week, and month of the year follow the time periods drivers stated having trouble finding places to park,” Hernandez said. “In Oregon, if we do nothing to address the problem and freight-related traffic continues to grow, we’ll face greater truck parking shortages. A possible solution is finding ways to promote public-private partnerships, the state working together with industry.”

A solution is not, Hernandez said, simply waiting for the day autonomous vehicles take over the hauling of freight as some predict.

“There are many issues yet to be worked out with autonomous commercial motor vehicles,” he said, “and even if autonomous commercial motor vehicles become commonplace, we’re still going to need truck drivers in some capacity. For now and in the foreseeable future, we need truck drivers and safe and adequate places for the drivers to park and rest.” 

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OSU partners with ODOT on system for better transit planning

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Public transit planners throughout the nation should soon be rolling toward more informed decision making and better service thanks to a partnership between Oregon State University’s College of Engineering and the Oregon Department of Transportation.

The university and state transportation officials have teamed up on an extension to the General Transit Feed Specification, commonly known as the GTFS. The extension is called GTFS-ride.

OSU will release open-source tools for GTFS-ride data storage and analysis sometime this fall, said J. David Porter, professor of industrial engineering at Oregon State. With those tools, planners can see in general how well transit networks are functioning and also easily access specific information about where riders tend to get on and off.

In existence for just over a decade, the GTFS defines a common data format for public transportation schedules and related geographic information. Mobile developers use the publicly available data to create applications that riders can use to learn, for example, when the next bus is arriving.

The 12-month OSU-ODOT partnership resulted in the GTFS-ride extension, which defines a common format for fixed-route transit ridership. The extension will support the creation of common tools for enhancing transit planners’ ability to analyze and share ridership data.

“The main motivation for the project was ODOT and in particular their Rail and Public Transit Division didn’t feel they had enough access to ridership data to be able to make informed decisions about funding and improvement projects,” said Porter, who teamed with OSU graduate students Ben Fields, Sylvan Hoover and Phillip Carleton on the project.

“GTFS-ride extends GTFS and incorporates additional files and fields for transit agencies to reflect their ridership information. It will enable agencies at many different levels of maturity and technological capability to represent ridership in a standardized way that will facilitate information sharing and the use of common software tools. Planners will be able to better understand what a change to a single network does to the entire state network.”

At present, each transit agency in Oregon uses a mix of proprietary tools and locally developed solutions to analyze and report transit ridership data; there has been no standardized format for representing ridership.

“The old way of doing things made taking advantage of and sharing transit ridership data difficult,” said Hal Gard, administrator of ODOT’s Rail and Public Transit Division. “The GTFS-ride data standard will make it possible for organizations at all levels to get easy access to detailed ridership data.”

A description of the GTFS-ride standard is available at https://github.com/ODOT-PTS/GTFS-ride/blob/master/spec/en/reference.md, and a companion open source GTFS-ride validation tool is available at https://github.com/ODOT-PTS/transitfeed-ride.

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