ADB Transport DataBank launched

Lew Fulton, Transport Specialist, University of California, Davis, launches the ADB Transport Databank

The ADB Transport DataBank is the first comprehensive online portal to provide accessible, consolidated, quality transport data for Asia and the Pacific

The Asian Development Bank’s landmark Transport DataBank was launched in Paris on October 26, providing countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region with the information needed to address the policy, planning, implementation and governance challenges that are currently hindering improvements to the transport sector.

Spearheaded by ADB and implemented by Clean Air Asia and other partners, the initiative ensures comparable and reliable data-gathering throughout the region, which in turn impacts on the development of effective policy interventions and better investment planning.

Transport and investment planning requires data to accurately assess current and future trends in order to formulate evidence-based interventions. A key component of this process is modeling, in which impacts are evaluated; however, this is only possible if sufficient data is generated.

Until now, many countries in the Asia-Pacific region have had a limited capacity to collect, store, analyze, and visualize transport data. For some countries, the problem has been a sparsity of data, in which projects and research with varying objectives have produced potentially useful data that was later shelved.

The Transport Data Bank – http://transportdata.net/en – serves as a central platform where governments, research institutions, development organizations, and academics can access country data collated from a range of sources, from official government databases to academic research. The open-source databank, which is available free-of-charge to users and includes details not currently available in similar databases, is tailored to 40 ADB Developing Member Countries (DMCs), and is hinged on four key pillars: Urban Transport, Climate Change, Cross-border Transport and Logistics, and Road Safety and Social Sustainability.

It covers all modes of transport – road, rail, water, air, including passenger and freight, domestic and international, and urban and non-urban areas – and features data covering socio-economic indicators, transport activity, transport structure, emissions and energy, safety, infrastructure, urban transport, and the workforce.

“Data scarcity limits our ability to understand growth in transport and its energy use in Asia, where these are growing fastest,” said Paul Kishimoto, Researcher, Institute for Data, Systems and Society, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “The ADB and its partners have done a commendable service by choosing to make both this data and model publicly available, and I hope we will see continued upgrading of their member countries’ data collection and sharing.”

“The open nature of the 40-country database and accompanying model will make these very valuable to researchers and policymakers worldwide,” said Lew Fulton, Transport Specialist, University of California, Davis. “We hope efforts continue to further develop these and keep the data current.”

The Transport Data Bank also features a spreadsheet-based Transport Model as an intermediate policy modeling tool. While the model – which has been reviewed by renowned international experts – does not replace more data-intensive statistical computing, it addresses the modeling needs in circumstances in which there is limited data and expertise. Model results have been used to construct country profiles as examples on how to use the data.

The Transport DataBank website also contains think pieces on the transport workforce, data needs for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and big data. In the future, more features will be included. It is envisioned as a constantly improving platform that encourages data contributions and user feedback.

“Until now, there has been no common data framework with which to measure and assess the transport sector in Asia and the Pacific,” said Clean Air Asia Executive Director Bjarne Pedersen. “The ADB Transport DataBank is the first comprehensive online portal to provide accessible, consolidated, quality transport data for Asia and the Pacific. It also presents future transport scenarios to 2050, with a focus on travel demand, energy use, emissions and costs.”

Mr Pedersen said the databank was particularly important given the necessity to track progress on sustainable transport as part of such global processes as the 2030 SDGs, the Paris Agreement, and the New Urban Agenda.

The ADB Transport DataBank was launched at the International Transport Energy Modeling (iTEM) Workshop from October 26-27 in Paris, France, organized by the International Transport Forum. The workshop brought together academics, researchers, and representatives from governments, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector who are focused on the role of energy in the world’s transport system. The goal is to better understand the data and methods that are applied to the study of the transport system, its ongoing evolution, and the policy and technology options that are guiding change.