Data is organized bits of information collected for a specific purpose. It can be numbers-such as counts or measurements-or it can be words, such as people's opinion about a project. In transportation planning, data is collected and used to understand the current state of the transportation system and the community's transportation needs. Planners also collect and analyze data to verify an assumption or determine whether data justifies the development of a particular project. Data important to transportation planning includes:
Data collection involves assembling or gathering the different bits of information. It can be done manually, as in counting the number of cars that use a roadway during a specified period of time, or with sophisticated technology, such as cameras that can read car license plates. Data collection should always include a method of checking data quality. This could involve simply looking at the data to see if it is reasonable or it could be more involved such as comparing with similar data from another source to see if the two data sets are consistent.
Data analysis is organizing data in specific ways to detect patterns, describe facts, and test assumptions.
Data analysis is organizing data in specific ways to detect patterns, describe facts, and test assumptions. Analysis simplifies, organizes, and transforms data to help people learn from large amounts of complex information. Using data that has been analyzed to address specific needs helps to make well-informed decisions.