June 2016 Catalyst

June 2016
A typical car sits unused for more than 95 percent of its service life. Cars are just one of many things—from meeting space to power tools—that are privately owned but barely used. Unlocking this excess capacity is the essential idea of the sharing economy, said Professor Saif Benjaafar, chair of the Symposium on the Sharing Economy. Following his remarks, the forum turned to presentations and panels with leaders from industry, academia, nonprofits, and government.
Researchers at the U of M’s HumanFIRST Laboratory are helping to make it faster and easier for Minnesota law enforcement officers to log the data they collect at the scene of a crash. The research team redesigned the electronic crash report interface used by Minnesota law enforcement officers to improve the accuracy, reliability, and meaningfulness of crash data. Although at first glance these data appear to serve simply drivers and insurance companies, the information is highly valued because it is used by state and federal agencies, as well as researchers, to analyze and evaluate crashes, trends, and potential countermeasures.
Information and communication technologies are changing how and where we work and shop by making virtual activities a viable alternative to traditional physical activities. The rapid growth of these technologies has important implications for the transportation system. In a recent project, U of M experts synthesized the effects telecommuting and teleshopping have on travel behavior and predicted their potential impacts on our transportation system in the decades to come.
When drivers encounter a work zone, they have a choice: go through or go around. But for traffic engineers, this choice represents a tricky problem. How do you predict the number of drivers who will divert around the work zone versus the number that will go through, in order to create an effective traffic management plan? A new study from University of Minnesota Duluth researchers aims to help engineers solve this problem—and ultimately create better traffic management plans for their work zones.
Publication Credits 

Publisher/Director: Laurie McGinnis
Catalyst Editors: Pamela Snopl, Christine Anderson
Contributing Editors: Amy Friebe, Michael McCarthy
Designer: Angela Kronebusch
Freelance Writer: Megan Tsai