Roundtable helps DOT improve transportation safety data

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Underpinning DOT’s many safety programs and regulations is a wealth of data, much of it publicly shared. That data informs our decision-making and supports our objective of the safest possible outcomes for all users of the transportation system.

But that data also gets used by others pursuing similar safety goals, so we recognize the need to continually improve the value of data we collect and share, particularly as the quantity and variety of that data increase.

To help DOT better understand how we can improve our surface transportation safety data, we worked with the Center for Open Data Enterprise to hold an Open Data Roundtable last March.  And today, the Center has released its report on that Roundtable.

screen capture of report cover

The Center for Open Data Enterprise, an independent nonprofit organization, conducts a series of Open Data Roundtables, action-oriented dialogues that bring together government agencies and the organizations that use their data. The Roundtables are designed to help identify high-value datasets so agencies can address them as a priority; develop solutions to make data more accurate, complete, usable, and easy to work with; and connect data providers and users for ongoing collaboration.

By focusing on the users or “demand side” of open government data, Roundtables help agencies prioritize their work on open data more effectively, meet the needs of businesses and other data users more efficiently, and create greater social and economic value from the government’s vast data resources.

The goal of our Roundtable was to discuss how to better leverage DOT data with a particular focus on surface transportation safety.  Today’s report combines observations, feedback, and suggestions on all the topics discussed at the event, including those that apply to safety data specifically, to DOT data more broadly, or to the U.S. federal data system as a whole.

Many data users praised DOT for the quality of our data and data management practices and for our engagement with data users.

Roundtable participants also uncovered opportunities for further improvement.  Several discussions centered on issues —common to many federal agencies— like data availability and access, data quality, and data interoperability/integration.

Others focused on concerns specific to safety data on surface transportation – specifically, data related to crashes, vehicle and manufacturer information, and traffic and navigation. One of the most important issues flagged at the Roundtable was the need to combine crash data with hospital data in order to understand the long-term impacts of vehicle crashes and how different kinds of safety equipment can mitigate injury.

The DOT Safety Council has committed to growing its Safety Data Action Team to include personnel with health and medical expertise. The Safety Data Action team will also coordinate with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Health Data Consortium to address issues raised at the Roundtable and will work with other government agencies on DOT safety priorities.

Responding to the feedback we received from our data users will help us provide the best quality data in the most effective way possible, advancing the safety of the transportation system across the Nation. So, we look forward to working together with our data community to implement the findings and recommendations from the Open Data Roundtable report.

Read the Center for Open Data Enterprise report on the DOT Open Data Roundtable at

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