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Use Case

Assess Economic and Traffic Impacts of Inland Waterway Freight Transportation during Normal and Disrupted Operations


Inland waterway freight transportation is affected by weather, current and future waterway conditions, and operational strategies at ports and locks and dams. This use case studies inland navigation during both normal conditions and disaster response to compare and contrast normal to disrupted operations and explore system resilience. We seek to demonstrate data accessibility to explore normal operating conditions, weather-related impacts, social and economic impacts, and even COVID-19 pandemic disruptions in the future. For example, in the case of flooding or drought, inland waterway transport will be constrained by the water levels at key infrastructure and the associated traffic effects will propagate downstream. This use case demonstrates efficient access to data related to economic and vessel traffic impacts of the inland waterway freight transportation system. Access to this data can support investment, design and planning, maintenance, and operational decisions related to the navigation system and increase understanding of the system’s resilience to disruptions.

Target User(s)

Primary users include: - United States and State departments of transportation (DOTs), - U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), - U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), - other maritime agencies, - private investors and citizens, and - researchers

Pre-TransMAP Hub Conditions

The data required to complete this use case is currently not available to users in a single platform. To access the necessary use case data prior to TransMAP Hub development, the following data collection/management steps must be completed:

  • User locates and determines their navigation region of interest and relevant time frame
  • User identifies reputable and reliable data sources for:
    • Weather, water-level, and/or other disruptive events/conditions that are relevant to their decision scenario
    • Commodity flow data during their time frame of interest
    • Economic behavior within their region and time frame of interest
    • Vessel traffic, likely through an AIS (Automated Identification System) feed
  • User compiles, mines, cleans, and analyzes data from all identified data sources.
  • User utilizes the collected data to compute the economic impacts of inland navigation for their region and timeframe of interest.
  • User utilizes the collected data to describe vessel traffic in their navigation region of interest within their relevant time frame.
  • User integrates their economic and traffic impact results to explore interactions between the data sources.
  • User creates a report of the results of interest.

Post-TransMAP Hub Conditions

TransMAP Hub will provide free, public access to the cleansed data necessary to complete this use case at a single online location. This will greatly reduce the prior knowledge and data skills that users are required to have and their time and effort involved with identifying and evaluating data sources; compiling, mining, cleaning, and analyzing the necessary data from each source; and linking and reporting on resulting integrated data.

  • User will select navigation region of interest on the geographically visual user interface.
  • User will select relevant time frame from provided options.
  • User will select economic impact measures from provided options.
  • User will select the vessel traffic data of interest from provided options.
  • User will be provided with a report of the commodity type, commodity flow, vessel behavior, economic factor, and economic and traffic impact data for their region and timeframe of interest.

Advantages & New Capabilities

Users will reduce their time and effort required to execute data search, collection, mining, cleansing, and analysis tasks related to assessing economic and vessel traffic impacts of inland waterway freight transportation during normal and disrupted operations.

Users of all skill levels will be able to use this capability. Users with varying levels of data skill and experience will interact with TransMAP Hub ranging from lay users interacting with the geographical user interface to heavy users downloading data files for individual use.

Users will be able to obtain publicly available and free access to relevant data as available for their region and timeframe of interest as follows:


There are four known challenges associated with this use case: 1. Users will need to be able to determine their geographic region of interest and relevant time frame based on their individual decision scenario, 2. Users will need to be familiar with economic value, vessel traffic, weather, and hydrological terminology associated with inland waterway freight transportation, 3. This use case depends on free and unrestricted access to multiple sources of data in order for TransMAP Hub to in turn share the relevant data freely with the public as charged, and 4. Long-term execution of this use case depends on the sustainability of associated federal government data sources. These challenges need to be recognized and addressed to the extent possible during TransMAP Hub development.

Frequency of Use

Annually or as needed after a triggering event


Heather Nachtmann

Professor, Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies (CAST)

Last update: 2021-06-30