Lesson

Present information graphically to improve comprehension.

National experience using archived traffic detector data for monitoring highway performance.


10/1/2004
United States


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Lesson Learned

This report provides a summary of lessons learned from the Mobility Monitoring Program concerning the use of archived traffic detector data for monitoring highway performance. One lesson learned from the report concerns presenting information in a form that is understandable to all applicable audiences.
  • Present information graphically to improve comprehension by all audiences. The audience for transportation performance information can include a wide range of transportation practitioners, agency mid- and upper-level managers, elected officials, business leaders, and the media. Simple charts and graphics are more easily interpreted by this diverse audience than complex data tables and lengthy text descriptions. Data collectors and analysts may be adept at interpreting complex technical data because that is their primary job function; however, other non-technical audiences may only be able to devote 30 to 60 seconds to understanding key report elements. Several practitioners have mentioned the "spouse test," in which they asked their spouse (who has a non-technical background) to review and interpret certain graphics or charts that illustrated transportation performance.
  • Summarize projects with one-page of text and graphics. Another "rule-of-thumb" is that every research project or activity should be summarized with a single page of text and a picture or graphic.
This experience suggests that it is important to keep graphics simple when presenting information to a diverse audience. This experience also suggests that an effective communication technique includes creating a one-page summary, containing both text and graphics, for all research projects and activities.


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Source

Lessons Learned: Monitoring Highway Congestion and Reliability Using Archived Traffic Detector Data

Author: Shawn Turner, Rich Margiotta, and Tim Lomax

Published By: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration

Source Date: 10/1/2004

EDL Number: 14059

Other Reference Number: FHWA-HOP-05-003

URL: http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/lessons_learned/index.htm#toc

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Lesson Contacts

Lesson Contact(s):

Rich Margiotta
Cambridge Systematics
865-670-8516
rmargiotta@camsys.com

Lesson Analyst:

Jane Lappin
Volpe National Transportation Systems Center
617-494-3692
jane.lappin@volpe.dot.gov


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United States

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Lesson ID: 2006-00268