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Exploring the Impact of Funding for Unconventional Data Collection on Vulnerable Road User (VRU) Safety Improvements

Project Description

This study aims to bridge the gap between funding decisions, data access, and safety improvements for VRUs. By combining qualitative and quantitative analyses, this research will provide insights and guidance to transportation organizations, specifically State DOTs and MPOs, to effectively incorporate crowdsourced data into their funding strategies and prioritize safety improvements for VRUs.


Through the literature review, survey/interviews (with state DOTs, MPOs, and other transportation agencies), and case studies/comparative analysis, we tend to answer the following questions:

1) Will unconventional data become a primary method for non-motorist data collection in the future?

2) How does the level of funding for unconventional data affect safety improvements for VRUs?

3) What is the perceived impact of such investment on agencies’ decision-making processes?

4) What are the major impediments to encouraging data sharing such as privacy concerns?

5) What are the agencies’ data management or data governance practice of unconventional data sources?


The project outputs, including a literature review, survey report, interview findings report, case study reports, and a comparative analysis report, are expected to have significant impacts on research, education, workforce development, and technology transfer. The literature review will be expected to contribute to the existing body of knowledge, and it will synthesize and analyze current research on the impact of funding for access to unconventional data sources on safety improvements for VRUs. The survey report will present the findings and analysis of the survey conducted among state DOTs and MPOs. The interview findings report will provide a deeper understanding of the investment strategies, decision-making processes, and perceived impact of funding for access to unconventional data on VRU safety improvements. The case study reports will showcase successful examples of transportation agencies integrating unconventional data into funding strategies and achieving VRU safety improvements, and they will also analyze funding mechanisms, data collection methodologies, and decision-making processes in each case study. The comparative analysis report will compare funding strategies and utilization of unconventional data for VRU safety improvements across different transportation agencies, and it will identify variations, challenges, and opportunities in funding priorities and decision-making processes.


The literature review will serve as a valuable resource, guiding future research directions and informing evidence-based decision-making in transportation safety. The survey report will provide insights into current practices, funding patterns, and challenges related to unconventional data in transportation agencies, and will also inform professionals, policymakers, and funding agencies about the perceptions, experiences, and needs of state DOTs and MPOs, guiding them in making informed decisions about funding strategies and leveraging unconventional data for VRU safety. The interview findings report will offer qualitative insights and real-life experiences from key stakeholders in state DOTs and MPOs and serve as a valuable for developing effective funding strategies and decision-making frameworks, providing practical examples and guidance for transportation professionals. The case study reports will serve as references for other organizations looking to enhance VRU safety through unconventional data sources, promoting knowledge sharing and inspiring innovative approaches to funding and utilizing emerging unconventional data. The comparative analysis report will provide insights into the role of policy frameworks, institutional structures, and legislation in supporting the integration of unconventional data into funding strategies, guiding policymakers and transportation professionals.


These project outputs will have a significant impact on research by advancing knowledge in transportation safety and guiding future research directions. They will serve as educational resources, disseminating knowledge and enhancing understanding among students, researchers, and practitioners. The outputs will support workforce development by providing guidance and best practices for transportation professionals involved in VRU safety initiatives. Lastly, the findings and insights will facilitate technology transfer by offering practical recommendations that transportation agencies can implement to effectively leverage emerging unconventional data for VRU safety improvements.


06/01/2023 to 05/31/2024

Principal Investigator

Xiao (Shaw) Qin

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

ORCID: 0000-0003-0073-3485

Research Project Funding

Federal: $50,001

Non-Federal: $25,475

Contract Number


Project Number


Research Priority

Promoting Safety

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