Fellowship Openings

Creating a Data-Based Transportation Evaluation Program

Project: Creating a Data-Based Transportation Evaluation Program

Agency: City of San José Department of Transportation

Location: San Jose, CA

PROJECT CONTEXT

There are more cars and people in California than in any state in the nation and, at the same time, it has some of most ambitious plans to curb greenhouse gases in the world.  The city of San José has grown from mostly farmland community to California’s third-largest city in 50 years.  San José is the biggest city in Santa Clara County, home to Silicon Valley and the fastest-growing county in the state. Moreover, Downtown San José is gearing up to expand its Downtown Train Station to accommodate roughly eight times as many passengers per day, as well as for Google’s major Downtown West project, which will eventually employ 25,000 people. Through best practices in urban design and Smart Cities technology, the San José Department of Transportation has launched various projects to shift its focus from moving cars to ensuring mobility for all modes of transport. As that strategy unfolds, the department is seeking better ways to evaluate the data from these projects to measure outcomes, enhance engagement efforts, and improve overall efficacy and quality of life.

The Department of Transportation has taken several steps to meet its goals of improved efficiency, safety and sustainability. In 2015, San José became the fourth city in the nation to adopt a Vision Zero program to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries in problem locations. More recent initiatives include the Pavement Program, which goes much further than repaving, reconfiguring streets to make them safer and adding more bike lanes, and the San José Access and Mobility Plan, a series of projects directed towards increased walking, biking and transit use, decrease auto dependence and designing streets around people, not cars. To strengthen these and future initiatives, the city’s Department of Transportation seeks to create a rigorous evaluation system that leverages existing data to ensure goals are met, and if not, to determine what changes need to be made to develop better projects.  By providing data-backed updates on its projects, the department can also promote greater buy-in from the public, increasing positive results.

To support this work, the City of San Jose’s Department of Transportation will partner with FUSE Corps to host an executive-level fellow for one year who will gain an overview of department initiatives and assess existing transportation evaluation programs and how they are funded in other cities, including New York and San Francisco.  In collaboration with the project supervisor and program leaders across the department, the fellow will determine what metrics need to be recorded and analyzed for each program and ensure that the product of that analysis is clear and useful to stakeholders, both internal and external.  The fellow will then recommend whether the analysis portion of the evaluation is best conducted in-house, by an outside consultant, or through a hybrid approach.  By designing a new program, the fellow has an opportunity to make a vital contribution to best practices in transportation evaluation, an essential tool as cities look to create efficient, safe and sustainable mobility strategies.

PROJECT SUMMARY & POTENTIAL DELIVERABLES

The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables that follow will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship, after which a revised scope of work will be developed and agreed upon by the FUSE Fellow and the host agency.”

Starting in April 2020, the FUSE Fellow will gain an overview of current Department of Transportation initiatives. It will be helpful also to have a general understanding of San José’s long-term transportation goals as set out in Envision 2040 San José General Plan and Climate Smart San Jose. The fellow will then assess existing transportation evaluation programs and how they are funded in other cities, including New York and San Francisco. Next, in collaboration with the department’s project teams, the fellow will design a data-based transportation evaluation program for San José, determining metrics and procedures to record and analyze data. The design process extends to the format and presentation of evaluation reports to stakeholders and the community generally.  This outreach component can play a crucial role in the department’s future. Internally, that means department and City management, planners, engineers, the Vision Zero team, and elected leaders. Externally, granting agencies along with advocacy groups, such as California Walks and the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition, will get essential updates on results and how to improve on them. The traveling public will receive concrete evidence of progress, particularly motorists who frequently experience less space for driving or parking, without clear information about the outcomes of the projects for drivers and people walking, bicycling, and/or riding transit along the roadways. Before the end of the year, the fellow will have a fully designed evaluation program ready for implementation and presentation to city management, along with a recommendation on whether the analysis phase should be done in-house, by an outside consultant, or through a hybrid or alternative report.

The fellow’s success in this role will be evaluated based on several factors. Proven data analysis and program development abilities are essential. Stakeholder engagement skills with city officials, department management and staff as well as advocacy groups will also be necessary.  The Department of Transportation has a record of delivering good projects, but the data generated remains untapped. A successful fellow will show the way to unlock that data, putting it to use to help the City reach its mobility goals of greater efficiency, safety and sustainability.

Conduct a landscape analysis:  Begin work with a listening tour with Department of Transportation  management and staff and gain an overview of its current initiatives. Also, develop a general understanding of San José’s long-term transportation goals as set out in Envision 2040 San José General Plan and Climate Smart San José.

Assess existing alternatives: Research existing transportation evaluation programs and how they are funded in other cities, including New York and San Francisco. This research can extend to cities outside the U.S.

Undertake design process:  In collaboration with the department’s project teams, design a system for the evaluation of transportation data, determining project metrics and procedures to record and analyze the data. The design process extends to the format and presentation of evaluations, adapted to different audiences, both internal and external, including the general public.

Present evaluation program: Before the end of the year, the fellow will have a fully designed transportation data evaluation program ready for implementation and presentation to city management, along with a recommendation on whether the data analysis phase should be done in-house or by an outside consultant

KEY STAKEHOLDERS

  • Jessica Zenk, Deputy Director, City of San José Department of Transportation
  • Devin Gianchandani, Senior Transportation Specialist, Manager – Transportation Options Program, City of San José Department of Transportation
  • Ramses Madou, Division Manager of Planning, Policy and Sustainability, City of San José Department of Transportation

 QUALIFICATIONS

  • At least 15 years of professional experience in a relevant field with a proven track record in program development and data analysis.
  • Superior critical thinking and analytical skills.
  • Ability to synthesize complex information into clear and concise recommendations.
  • Ability to relate to a wide variety of diverse audiences with strong emotional intelligence and empathy.
  • Excellent stakeholder engagement skills and the ability to use facilitative leadership techniques to coordinate stakeholder activities.
  • Self-motivated, goal-oriented, entrepreneurial leader who can also be an independent worker.
  • Persistent in obtaining information and creatively resourceful in identifying solutions to complex problems.
  • Ability to create direction and movement in complex bureaucratic environments.
  • Exceptional written and verbal communication skills.
  • Understands the need for solutions to support all people in a community regardless of race, religion, gender, immigration status, or ethnicity.

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