At TransportationCamp DC, the Mobility Lab-sponsored unconference held in Arlington, Va., transportation professionals, advocates, and enthusiasts gather each year to discuss and learn about the pressing topics of the day. We put together this back-of-the-envelope analysis to see if we could discern any trends in topics and modes being discussed in the events’ sessions.
Due to the structure of the unconference, the attendees set the agenda at each TransportationCamp. This grants insight into what attendees – and by extension the broader transportation industry – have cared about over time. The above chart shows sessions by category, the broad topic it was about, and the below chart shows all sessions involving specific modes, the forms of transportation they addressed.
According to Paul Mackie, Mobility Lab’s communications director, this confirms what organizers have felt over the years. Technology and planning questions consistently draw attendees, especially those also familiar with the local Transportation Techies meetup group.
Sessions on data and technology have dominated the scene, comprising about one-third of all sessions each year. This makes sense for a time when the industry is rapidly looking for data-centered solutions that could help build ridership in both the short- and long-term.
Discussions on specific modes has been overall relatively steady. Transit has consistently been the focus of at least one-fifth of the sessions.
Policy sessions pretty consistently make up about 10 percent of the sessions each year – perhaps for D.C.-centric reasons. Equity-centered sessions fluctuated, appearing higher on the agenda in 2014 and 2017 and dipping in interest in 2015 and 2016.
Sessions were categorized based on their notes, which, in the open spirit of TransportationCamp, are publicly available online. Given the complexity of many issues, the topics of individual sessions were divided as best as possible, though overlap does exist (see: Integrating/ Creating New Mobility Options for K-12 Schools). This is shown with some sessions qualifying as multiple categories, and some sessions not specifying modes.
Veteran TransportationCampers: do these match your experience? Do you have a guess as to why some of these trends may be the case?
Photo: The wall of sessions from the 2014 TransportationCamp DC (MV Jantzen, Flickr, Creative Commons).