Transportation planning and analysis demands a considerable variety of statistics and data on population, commutation, housing, and travel behavior. These indicators not only provide a snapshot of current conditions, but also can provide glimpses of the past and the future.
Socioeconomic forecasts are created around Small Geographic Areas and are used as inputs in the travel demand modeling process. In fact, the presence and use of accurate estimates and forecasts strengthens the entire transportation planning process.
At the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, data collection, data analysis, and forecasting activities is a continuous process involving a large number of staff members. Data are compiled from a variety of sources at the federal, state, and local level.
BMC staff actually develops much of the data using surveys and traffic count operations conducted throughout the Baltimore region. The BMC is a repository for the collection, maintenance, and analysis of U.S. Bureau of the Census data as well as data from other federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration, the Federal Highway Administration, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the Federal Transit Administration.
The BMC also teams with state agencies such as the Maryland State Highway Administration, the Maryland Aviation Administration, the Maryland Transit Administration, and other agencies to collect information on traffic counts, transit ridership, congestion, and proposed development.
Community Profiles are 8-10 page compilations of data and information about the communities in the Baltimore region. There is one profile for each of 94 Regional Planning Districts in the region, as well as one for each jurisdiction and the region as a whole.
Data from U.S. Bureau of the Census is maintained by the BMC that describe population, household, and other demographic characteristics of each jurisdiction in the Baltimore region as well as characteristics of Maryland and U.S. residents dating back to the first census in 1790.
The compilation and development of employment information by industry sector and small area geographic areas is part of the BMC’s development monitoring activity and is a product of the cooperative forecasting process.
A key database that is maintained for developing employment data is the Master Establishment File. Estimates and projections of employment on a small area "neighborhood size" basis are created by the BMC as inputs into the transportation modeling activity. Analysis of employment throughout areas of the Baltimore region provides a method for gauging the economic vitality of communities.
Household Travel Survey/Data Collection Activities
The BMC participated in a year-long stratified household travel survey for the Baltimore region as an add-on to the 2001 National Household Travel Survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation which is undertaken every 5 years.
In addition to the household travel survey the BMC collects data through other methods such as the Regional Traffic Count Program, including the collection of portable, classified and auto occupancy counts, the compilation of Level-of Service-Measures, and the collection of Highway Speeds/Travel Times using global positioning systems.
Population and Household Data
Demographic research on the number of people and homes and their composition are critical variables used in the transportation modeling process. The BMC, through the work of the Cooperative Forecasting Group, annually updates these characteristics on a small area basis. The Baltimore Regional Transportation Board adopts these estimates and projections each year for use in travel demand modeling and testing air quality conformity.
Residential and Commercial Building Permits
The BMC has maintained a database of all construction authorization permits issued in the Baltimore region for the past decade. The compilation and analysis of new residential and non-residential building activity and remodeling serves as the basis for Development Monitoring Activity conducted by the agency. At the heart of this activity is the maintenance of the BMC Building Permit Data System. This system can generate monthly, quarterly, and annual reports of construction activity by small geographic area and each permit record is available online for review (for a fee).
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