Model Improvement Plan

This page contains notes and comments from the the "Modeling Meta" session at the 2014 Innovations in Travel Modeling Conference in Baltimore, MD. Some considerations for planning for model improvements include:

  • How will I build support and pay for improvements
  • Should I have a plan document?
  • Should I build out the model incrementally or all at once?
  • Will we go at this alone or embark on a partnership for joint development?
  • What type of improvements should we do?

# How will I build support and pay for for model improvements?

How are model improvements funded?

  • Federal PL2 Funds
  • Federal STP
  • Grants from state and Feds
  • Project planning budget
  • Charge jurisdictions/member agencies that use the model
  • Exploitation of interns and research partnerships
  • Spare nights and weekends

Examples for building support include:

  • heart-to-heart with policy makers about improvements designed to address the very specific questions that they were asking.
  • letters from the public and special interest groups who want their interests represented in the model
  • leverage other efforts so that the price seems like a bargain
  • connect the prices to project development costs
  • don't be afraid to admit when the model doesn't perform well; it will give you justification for fixing it
  • mention shortcomings with model in front of the board
  • prioritize feature-based improvements so that end-users of information will feel like they are getting value

# Should I have Model Improvement Plan Document?

Planning for model improvement doesn't necessitate a plan document. Some considerations for having a plan document may include:

  • Having a plan help with budgeting
  • Relationships at the agency between the modeling manager and the person approving the budgets
  • Sometimes easier to get funding for contracts approved when can point back to an approved plan; especially useful when there is a long lag-time

# Example Plan Documents

  • Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission

# Should I build out the model incrementally or all at once?

  • You have to have a good platform from which to do incremental development, so if you don't have that yet, you need to do one big effort to get there.

# Will we go at this alone or embark on a partnership?

  • Several partnership projects have started in past few years. Previous trend was more "standing on shoulders" with no additional benefit translated to the agency whose shoulders you were standing on.
  • Partnerships allow you to bounce ideas off of people who are in similar situations across the country; if at least somebody else likes it enough to do the same thing, then it probably isn't terrible; if a few people think it is a good idea, then it hopefully is.

# What type of improvements should we do?

  • prioritize improvements that will respond to user-needs
  • make a list of every time you can't answer a question that you are asked, and select improvements that will allow you to respond to the most.