Data and statistics on the status quo and developments in transport form the basis for transport policy, planning and research. The central basis continues to be data actively collected in surveys. The methods of data collection in transport are subject to constant change, as both the survey technologies and the framework conditions for data collection are changing. Thus, in addition to the analysis of traffic data, data collection itself is an important field of research in traffic. In Germany, the Institute of Transport Research plays a central role in the field of transport data: it conducts research into new survey methods, is involved in major national surveys as a scientific partner, and has extensive expertise in the analysis of transport data and the identification of developments in transport.
For more than 10 years, the Institute of Transport Research has been involved as a scientific partner in a large number of major surveys that provide basic data on transport. These include, in particular, the national traffic survey "Mobility in Germany" (MiD 2008 and MiD 2017), the survey "Motor Vehicle Traffic in Germany" (KiD 2010) and the "Driving Performance Survey" (FLE 2014). The focus of the work in connection with these surveys is in particular the processing of the data, which includes, for example, the imputation of missing data or the analysis and correction of methodological effects. In addition to the major surveys, the Institute conducts topic-specific surveys in numerous projects. In addition, the "Clearinghouse of Transport Data" is located at the Institute, which is the central point of contact for all persons and institutions that wish to obtain and use traffic data and also seek advice for this purpose.
In addition, the Institute's work focuses on evaluating the Institute's own surveys as well as extensive secondary data, interpreting results and deriving developments in traffic. In this context, findings on developments - especially in transport demand - should be based on different data sources wherever possible. For this reason, the institute derives results on developments in certain groups of people, such as young adults, or in certain transport segments, such as long-distance transport, from different sources in each case. Knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of these sources is crucial. A particularly outstanding example of the combination of sources in analyzing developments is the driving and traffic performance calculations for the regular semi-official statistical publication "Verkehr in Zahlen" (Traffic in Figures), which the institute has been conducting since 2015 on behalf of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) Berlin.
Building on this expertise, an expansion of the Institute's activities in the area of surveys and developments in transport is currently taking place. In order to do justice to the global significance of transport for the environment and for the German economy, the current project "Transport and Climate" (TraK) is broadening the focus to include international developments. In this project, mobility and motorization developments in central emerging countries are evaluated and estimated for the coming decades. In the research field of new survey techniques, the institute will position itself with the "MovingLab". The "MovingLab" will make it possible to track several thousand test subjects using smartphones, to collect new types of mobility behavior data, and thus to evaluate mobility behavior in much greater detail than before. However, it is also foreseeable that in the next few years extensive passively collected data, or Big Data, for example from mobile service providers, will play an increasingly important role for traffic. We see research into the potential of Big Data and new analysis methods for reliable and future-oriented traffic statistics as an important research focus for the institute in the coming years.