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Fresh and Local: The Best Kind of Data for Making Roads Safer

Noah BudnickNoah Budnick

The Big Data industry has a bit to learn from the hard-working farmers who keep us healthy. My friend Lindsey Lusher Shute, the head of the National Young Farmers’ Coalition, surveyed her members and found that “local partnerships” and “community supported agriculture” are among their industry’s greatest assets. The local food movement has created a unique value proposition for everyone who eats: it’s better for you, your family and your community to know where your food comes from, and it’s even better if your family’s food comes from your community.

You need community-harvested data that you can trust

Shouldn’t you know where your data come from? And, isn’t it imperative that your data is local and delivered in a healthy serving size?

Like farmers who grow crops for chefs, Zendrive produces our own data for transportation planners and engineers. Our mission is to use data to make roads safe. We have a lot of work ahead of us: Traffic is the leading cause of injury deaths in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

We work with our partners to aggregate and anonymize data on how people drive and then use that data at scale to learn how to reduce risk, prevent collisions and save lives. When we study street improvements, we analyze our own anonymized data sets; we don’t buy or source data  from a third party. This means we know the exact provenance of our driver behavior data. We know what it can tell you and what it can’t.

For example, in our report on the impact of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Safer Market Street project, we drew from the million-plus trips Zendrive measures each month in San Francisco. Our data scientists were able to zoom in on 100,000 anonymized trips along the Safer Market Street corridor and analyze behavior one month before implementation and one-, three- and six-months after. The findings are as local and as rich as you can get.

Fresh and local matters when it comes to your data

Like our farmer friends, Zendrive knows that local products are key to solving local problems (for them it’s produce; for us it’s data), so we harvest local insights from our crop of billions of monthly trips. In the 15 largest metropolitan areas across the country, Zendrive collects over a million trips a month and logs close to eight million aggressive driving and distracted driving events. These data sets are growing exponentially—with an 1853% increase in trips just in the last six months–constantly improving Zendrive’s coverage and accuracy.

This data can be analyzed by time of day, day of week, by location on a map and other criteria, to help communities figure out the most effective ways to prevent crashes and improve safety.

What’s more is that Zendrive data arrives in real-time. Just like your fruits and vegetables, your data needs to be fresh. In the business of transportation, things move fast and stats get stale quickly. The best decisions arise from the best raw data, and while history provides useful context, data from yesterday (not last year) is critical for charting your course beyond tomorrow.

When you start with good ingredients, you get good, trustworthy analysis. When you don’t know where your ingredients come from, you’re stuck with the old adage: garbage in, garbage out. And, while we love to compost at the Zendrive office, we love a satisfying meal even more. We invite you to sit down, share your challenges or have a chat with us.

About

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Noah Budnick is the Director of Public Policy & Government Affairs for Zendrive. He introduced the “Vision Zero” concept to the U.S., which posits that all traffic deaths and serious injuries are preventable. As part of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s transition team, he helped develop the first Vision Zero policy in America. Noah has championed policies to improve communities through the introduction of safe city speed limits, protected bike lanes and “play streets." He also conducted the first U.S. research to demonstrate the “safety in numbers” effect – that increased numbers of walkers and bikers lead to fewer casualties. Before Zendrive, Noah served as Executive Director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and Deputy Director of Transportation Alternatives in NYC. His roots in active transportation go back to high school, where he convinced his physical education teachers to let him start a mountain biking club in lieu of going to gym class.

Noah Budnick is the Director of Public Policy & Government Affairs for Zendrive. He introduced the “Vision Zero” concept to the U.S., which posits that all traffic deaths and serious injuries are preventable. As part of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s transition team, he helped develop the first Vision Zero policy in America. Noah has championed policies to improve communities through the introduction of safe city speed limits, protected bike lanes and “play streets." He also conducted the first U.S. research to demonstrate the “safety in numbers” effect – that increased numbers of walkers and bikers lead to fewer casualties. Before Zendrive, Noah served as Executive Director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and Deputy Director of Transportation Alternatives in NYC. His roots in active transportation go back to high school, where he convinced his physical education teachers to let him start a mountain biking club in lieu of going to gym class.