The White House Wants you to Download and Analyze Traffic Fatality OpenData from the DOT

OpenData, these data are all over the Internet, particularly thanks to the proliferation of Open Data portals, spatial data warehouses, and now, ArcGIS Online making data accessible to all. Just this week, the White House has released details of the most recent analysis on national traffic fatalities and the initial findings are interesting, VERY interesting! Sadly, the data appear to confirm that traffic related fatalities in America are up more than 7% in 2015 compared to 2014. In a bold move, The White House has made a call to the public and industry to help analyze these data to better understand what the data reveals – sounds like a huge opportunity for the Geotech community.

Traffic Fatalities - As the new data being released show, and as DOT reported earlier this summer, 2015 showed a marked increase in traffic fatalities nationwide.
Traffic Fatalities – As the new data being released show, and as DOT reported earlier, 2015 showed a marked increase in traffic fatalities nationwide. (Source:

According to the DOT, a number of private sector firms and educational institutions have already committed to answer this call to action. They’re doing this though a number of mechanisms: by combining these new data with their own, hosting hackathons, and launching new analytical platforms. These commitments coming from leading names in GIS and Geo technology include:

  • StreetLight Data, a mobility analytics provider that transforms geospatial data from mobile devices into Metrics that describe travel patterns, is providing free access to their data sets, which describe driving patterns, in the vicinity of fatal crashes. Researchers and data scientists can request access to the data, which will be provided at no cost through the end of 2017.
  • CARTO, a leader in location intelligence, an analytical platform for geospatial data, is making FARS data available to the public through their platform and allow researchers to combine data from other government and private sector sources.
  • Mapbox, a mapping platform for developers, is developing interactive tools to help better educate citizens about fatal crashes that occur around them in their daily lives.  One example is that Mapbox will launch an application that uses the fatality analysis data along with their directions service to show crashes along a commute route over the last five years, along with contributing factors such as alcohol or excessive speed.
  • Waze, a free, real-time, traffic and navigation app, has partnered with the U.S. Department of Transportation to share data through the Connected Citizens Program. This free program empowers municipal leaders to harness real-time driver insights to improve congestion and make better informed planning decisions.

The Government is calling on data scientists, public health experts, students and researchers — even if you have never thought about road safety before — to dive in to these data and help answer these important questions, especially on tough issues like pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities.

You can start start by downloading and playing with the data. Those of you ingesting the data into ArcGIS Online are encouraged to also take advantage of our popular free tools available to you; Admin Tools to help manage your users and data and Mapfolio to help you access your groups and favorites with AGO

See the original DOT blog post here.

Data Science is a team sport.

Download the traffic data from the DOT FTP server

Interested in more, fine data resources? See also: Data Tip – White House Arctic initiative and elevation data via the ArcticDEM project

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GEOspatial Evangelist & CMO

Geographer, GIS professional, writer, and fan of all things mobile.

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