MassDOT, MassTech Announce Hackathon Aimed at “Visualizing Transportation”

Wednesday, December 11, 2013




MassDOT, MassTech Announce Hackathon Aimed at “Visualizing Transportation”


  • Event to Feature Remarks from Gov. Deval Patrick  via Videoconference from Singapore Innovation Partnership Mission
  • Hackathon Will Offer New Data Sets from Pilot Transportation Programs
  • Will Allow Insights on Traffic Management, Roadway Use, and Commuter Rail Ridership


BOSTON –The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (“MassDOT”) and the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MassTech) will host the MassDOT Visualizing Transportation Hackathon, an event which will enable coders, data analysts, and transportation stakeholders to access and collaborate around an unprecedented collection of Massachusetts transportation data.  The event will take place December 13th and 14th at hack/reduce, a Cambridge-based community “hackerspace,” and will offer participants the first access to never before seen transportation data.  The event finale and award ceremony will feature remarks from Governor Deval Patrick, who will connect with participants by videoconference from Singapore, where he is scheduled to visit the Future Urban Mobility project, part of the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART). 

This inaugural event seeks participants who will build upon MassDOT’s open data sets to create compelling visualizations that convey to transportation researchers and policy makers new insights on focus areas such as travel behavior, road-rail comparisons, as well as around the energy, environmental, and social impacts of choosing certain transportation modes.

“MassDOT’s mission is to provide a reliable, affordable transportation system that is responsive to the needs of our customers,” stated Richard A. Davey, Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of MassDOT. “Open data has already allowed for the development of mobile apps, real-time traffic signs and other customer improvements. This hackathon will set us up for the possibility of even more developments to help get our customers where they need to be.”

Available at the event will be new data compiled through Mass DOT’s pilot real-time traffic management (RTTM) system, which currently provides data to real-time traffic signs on variety of major roadways. The RTTM program is scheduled to be built-out statewide by late 2014. The data from the pilot program will form the backbone of the event, providing participants an early opportunity to explore the use of this data, insights from comparisons to other regionals datasets, and to preview its use as an expanded, statewide data set.

 This event builds upon efforts spearheaded by the Big Data in Transportation (BDiT) Working Group, organized in early 2013 as part of Governor Patrick’s Mass Big Data Initiative. The group’s mission includes supporting MassDOT efforts to explore, develop and implement compelling pilot projects with the potential to demonstrate the transformative impact of open data in transportation.  Members of the working group include MassDOT, the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MassTech), Google, MIT, and hack/reduce. 

As part of their leadership of the Mass Big Data Initiative, MassTech is a lead sponsor of the hackathon, which will award prizes to successful teams in several categories judged by local experts in transportation, analytics, and technology.  MassTech is helping to drive awareness and growth of the Mass Big Data ecosystem across the Commonwealth by sponsoring events such as the MassDOT Visualizing Transportation hackathon, as well as through programs that enhance the Commonwealth’s skilled Mass Big Data workforce, fuel collaborative innovation in the regional Mass Big Data ecosystem, and advance greater access to public data.    

“Projects like the MassDOT Visualizing Data Hackathon and the launch of the upcoming web portal represent two major milestones in our effort to spur innovation and growth among the many high-tech industries and skilled workforce for the Governor's Big Data Initiative,” stated Pamela Goldberg, CEO of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. “By organizing and promoting hackathons and other similar events focused on opening public data sets, we can help to deliver technical and analytical solutions that will drive innovation in key sectors including transportation and energy. This activity also increases the competiveness of industries that are critical to the Commonwealth’s economic growth, such as finance and healthcare.  These events provide an opportunity to showcase the strengths of our Massachusetts Big Data cluster, including teams sourced from our tier-one academic programs and world-class technology companies who are driving leadership in the area of advanced analytics.”

A major goal of the event organizers is to increase civic engagement around open transportation data, building upon MassDOT’s previous successes in providing open data resources to the region’s community of application developers and coders through the MBTA’s and MassDOT’s “Developers Pages,” highlighted as part of the MBTA’s 2009 “Where’s My Bus” real-time data challenge. These efforts showcase the potential of open data collaboration and innovation to the public at-large. 

“Governor Patrick and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have been steadfast supporters of hack/reduce from inception.  This community is always excited about working with data sets that have civic relevance and where their projects have potential to impact society,” said Chris Lynch, co-founder of hack/reduce.  “This is a great opportunity to point out the trends that we all help to create when traveling throughout the state in our day-to-day lives and data visualization is an excellent means of communicating these trends and turning them into actionable insights.”

This event is planned as the first in a series focused on tapping the tremendous potential of the regional tech community - cutting across academia, industry, and community groups – to address common transportation challenges for public benefit.   

Governor Patrick is leading a coalition of the Commonwealth’s government and industry leaders on the Massachusetts - Asia Innovation Partnership Mission to strengthen the state’s partnerships with Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore, and expand opportunities between the Commonwealth and region for economic development and job creation in the innovation, life sciences, financial services, clean tech and transportation sectors. 




What:                  MassDOT Visualizing Transportation Hackathon: Informing the Future of Massachusetts Transportation through Data Analysis and Visualization


When:                 Start: December 13, 2013, 6:00pm

                           Finale & Awards: December 14, 2013, 9:00pm


Where:               hack/reduce

              275 Third Street

              Cambridge, MA 02142

Sponsors:          Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT)

              Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MassTech)

              Mass Big Data Initiative



Registration:     Event is free, advance registration is required. Register here:




About the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT)


In 2009, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) was created to unify the state’s various transportation agencies. MassDOT now includes the Highway division, the MBTA and Mass Transit, Aeronautics, and the Registry of Motor Vehicles. MassDOT is committed to providing a safe and reliable transportation system to all those who travel in the Commonwealth and works to deliver excellent customer service. MassDOT has been nationally recognized for its innovative approach to transportation, including the Accelerated Bridge Program, the “Where’s My Bus and Train?” apps and “Fast 14” work. For more information, visit MassDOT at our website:, blog: , or follow MassDOT on Twitter at and Facebook at


About the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative and the Innovation Institute


The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative is an innovative public agency working to enhance economic growth, accelerate technology use and adoption, and harness the value of research by engaging in meaningful collaborations across academia, industry, and government.  From improving our health care systems and expanding high-speed internet across the state to fostering emerging industry clusters, MassTech is driving innovation and supporting a vibrant economy across the Commonwealth. 


The Innovation Institute at MassTech was created in 2003 to improve conditions for growth in the innovation economy by enhancing industry competitiveness, promoting conditions which enable growth; and providing data and analysis to stakeholders in the Massachusetts innovation economy that promotes understanding and informs policy development. 


About the Massachusetts Big Data Initiative:


In response to industry insights gained through Secretary Bialecki and MassTech’s technology roundtable series, Governor Patrick announced the Massachusetts Big Data Initiative (Mass Big Data) at MIT in May of 2012. The Massachusetts Big Data Initiative is designed to leverage and expand the Commonwealth’s position as a global leader in the rapidly growing big data sector.


Through the Massachusetts Big Data Initiative, the Innovation Institute at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative has initiated efforts aimed at expanding the region’s global leadership and fully exploiting the Mass Big Data sector’s economic potential over the next three to five years. The Massachusetts Big Data Initiative supports efforts to drive growth in the regional big data ecosystem through four strategic imperatives: raising awareness, enhancing the skilled workforce, fueling collaborative innovation, and advancing open access to public data. Additional information available at:


About hack/reduce:


hack/reduce, Boston’s big data hacker space, is a non-profit providing the local community of students, data scientists, industry professionals, and other data enthusiasts the resources critical for making new big data discoveries. Our mission is to promote the growth and development of the technologies and skills required to process, analyze, and apply data. Working closely with our partners and the community, we bring data practitioners and domain experts across disciplines together to create the next generation of talent, technologies and applications shaping our future in a big data driven economy. A key element of Governor Patrick’s Mass Big Data Initiative, hack/reduce is supported by the Mass Tech Collaborative, along with many of Greater Boston’s venture capital and technology leaders. Visit