RIT Research: Expanding Sustainable Transportation Analysis

Researchers partner with state of California to create supply chain “footprint”

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Rochester Institute of Technology’s Laboratory for Environmental Computing and Decision Making has entered into a partnership with the state of California to better assess the environmental impacts of intermodal freight transportation.

The research will help the state develop sustainable strategies for goods movement within and across state borders. In particular, the research will help California develop an overall environmental “footprint” of goods movement within the state. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce about 40 percent of all U.S. containerized cargo comes through California ports.

The lab will use its Geospatial Intermodal Freight Transportation model or GIFT, a GIS-based modeling program jointly developed by RIT and the University of Delaware that evaluates the environmental impacts of goods movement.

The GIFT model is unique in that it allows decision makers to model freight transport in multiple modes, including roads, water and rail. Previous systems of this type were only able to focus on one mode of transit, reducing the accuracy of the models created and ignoring the potential economic, energy, and environmental benefits of intermodal freight transportation.

“GIFT was created to assist government agencies and private companies in better understanding how different transportation policies and supply chain decisions may impact the environment,” notes Scott Hawker, assistant professor of software engineering and co-director of the lab. “This project with the state of California allows us to extend our expertise in green supply chain modeling while improving transportation and environmental policy in the U.S.”

The project is being funded through the California Air Resources Board of the California Environmental Protection Agency and also includes scientists and engineers from the University of Delaware, the Eastern Research Group and SDV/ACCI Inc.

The Laboratory for Environmental Computing and Decision Making was founded at RIT in 2006 to enhance the development of system based model techniques for use in transportation planning and environmental policy.