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Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-13-036    Date:  August 2013
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-13-036
Date: August 2013


The Effective Integration of Analysis, Modeling, and Simulation Tools

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Simulation models used in transportation analysis are not well integrated among different domains (e.g., operations, safety, and environment) and for different levels of analysis (i.e., macro, meso, and micro). This project developed a prototype data hub and data schema using the Network EXplorer for Traffic Analysis (NeXTA) open-source software tool to save users time to input data and to model and display results in a common format. Researchers tested the newly developed model integration approach to address real-world transportation planning, operations, and management problems and demonstrated the approach to transportation planners at Portland Metro and Pima Association of Governments. The test applications validated the open-source data hub functionality by taking existing regional travel demand models from the respective regions, exporting the data to a dynamic traffic assignment model for mesoscopic analysis, exporting to a signal timing optimization tool, and then exporting to a microscopic simulation tool for detailed operations analysis. Preliminary results showed that the data hub prototype overcame many shortcomings associated with integrated modeling applications. The analyses took only 7 to 11 h to complete with the data hub in comparison to 35 to 52 h without the data hub, which is a total time savings of 80 percent. This report documents the findings and recommendations from the research, and it is aimed at model users, managers at modeling agencies, software developers, and researchers who are interested in advancing integrated modeling practices.

Joseph I. Peters
Director, Office of Operations
Research and Development


This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Transportation in the interest of information exchange. The U.S. Government assumes no liability for the use of the information contained in this document. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation.

The U.S. Government does not endorse products or manufacturers. Trademarks or manufacturers’ names appear in this report only because they are considered essential to the objective of the document.


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1. Report No.


2. Government Accession No. 3 Recipient's Catalog No.
4. Title and Subtitle

The Effective Integration of Analysis, Modeling, and Simulation Tools

5. Report Date

August 2013

6. Performing Organization Code
7. Author(s)

Brandon L. Nevers, Khang M. Nguyen, Shaun M. Quayle, Xuesong Zhou, Ph.D., and Jeffrey Taylor

8. Performing Organization Report No.


9. Performing Organization Name and Address

Science Applications International Corporation
8301 Greensboro Drive, Mailstop E-12-3
McLean, VA 22102-2296

10. Work Unit No. (TRAIS)

11. Contract or Grant No.


12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address

Office of Operations Research and Development
Federal Highway Administration
6300 Georgetown Pike
McLean, VA 22101-2296

13. Type of Report and Period Covered


14. Sponsoring Agency Code


15. Supplementary Notes

The Contracting Officer's Representative (COR) was Joe Bared, HRDO-20.

16. Abstract

The need for model integration arises from the recognition that both transportation decisionmaking and the tools supporting it continue to increase in complexity. Many strategies that agencies evaluate require using tools that are sensitive to supply and demand at local and regional levels. This in turn requires the use and integration of analysis tools across multiple resolutions. Despite this need, many integrated modeling practices remain ad hoc and inefficient.


A concept for an open-source data hub was developed to better enable the exchange of model information across multiple resolutions. All modeling and field data are fed and stored using a unified data schema. Tools within the data hub aid users in modifying modeling network, control, and demand data to match an objective, such as calibrating to field data. Visualization tools were built into the data hub’s core visualization program, NeXTA, along with powerful links to common Web-based tools such as Google Earth®, Google Maps®, and Google Fusion Tables®. The data hub reduces barriers to interfacing models across multiple resolutions and software platforms, which ultimately saves time and reduces costs.

17. Key Words

Integrated modeling, Travel demand forecasting, Dynamic traffic assignment, Microsimulation, Data hub, Data schema, Analysis, Modeling, Simulation

18. Distribution Statement

No restrictions. This document is available to the public through the National Technical Information Service, Springfield, VA 22161.

19. Security Classification
(of this report)


20. Security Classification
(of this page)


21. No. of Pages


22. Price


Form DOT F 1700.7 Reproduction of completed page authorized

SI* (Modern Metric) Conversion Factors





AADT Annual average daily traffic
ADOTArizona Department of Transportation
AMS Analysis, modeling, and simulation
ANM Animation
APC Automated passenger counting
AVL Automated vehicle location
CSVComma-separated value
DBFDatabase file
DBMS Database management system
DTA Dynamic traffic assignment
DynaSmartDynamic Network Assignment-Simulation Model for Advanced Road Telematics
DynusTDynamic Urban Systems for Transportation
ESRIĀ®Economical and Social Research Institute
GISGeographic information system
GTFSGeneral Transit Feed Specification
HCM Highway Capacity Manual
HOV High-occupancy vehicle
HPMSHighway Performance Monitoring System
ITSIntelligent transportation system
MOE Measure of effectiveness
MPO Metropolitan planning organization
MOVES Motor vehicle emissions simulator
NAD83North American Datum
NeXTA Network EXplorer for Traffic Analysis
ODME Origin-destination matrix estimation
PAGPima Association of Governments
QEM Quick estimation method
SOV Single-occupant vehicle
TAZ Transportation analysis zone
TDM Travel demand model
.tnpTransportation network project
UTDF Universal traffic data format
UTMUniversal transverse Mercator
VMS Variable message sign.
WGS84Word Geodetic System
XMLExtensible Markup Language