Bridging Transportation Researchers (BTR) Conference

Jason Hawkins at 2018 alumni event

Jason Hawkins

PhD candidate Jason Hawkins (CivMin PhD 2021, supervisor UTTRI associated faculty Professor Khandker Nurul Habib) reports on the second annual Bridging Transportation Researchers (BTR) conference held online August 11-12, 2020.

BTR attracted 890 formal registrants and covered 91 peer-reviewed papers. The entire event was administered by volunteers and registration was free for all. The Australian Road Research Board (ARRB) and the Transportation Research Board’s (TRB’s) Travel Survey Methods committee (ABJ40) co-sponsored the conference.

BTR was created to eliminate the barriers of costs and visa requirements to bring together transportation researchers from around the world using an environmentally sustainable (almost zero carbon) platform.

Presenters from 20 countries participated. UTTRI Director Professor Eric Miller presented in the panel “COVID-19 Pandemic and Transportation” and presented “Preliminary Analysis of COVID-19 Control Strategies Using an Agent-Based Microsimulation Model” in the session “COVID-19 Spreading and Risk.” The chart below shows presenters by country of origin.pie chart of presenters by country
BTR 2020 presenters by country (image: Jason Hawkins)

Registrants joined from 28 different time zones, as shown below.

graph of time zones of BTR 2020 registrants

Time Zone Distribution of BTR 2020 Registrants (Image: Maizy Jeong)

The full agenda and all video recordings from the 2020 and 2019 Bridging Transportation Researchers online conferences are freely available at https://bridgingtransport.org.

BTR an opportunity equalizer, says Hawkins

Jason contributed to the BTR 2020 conference as a member of the organizing committee, member of the paper review coordination team, and co-moderator of two sessions on Land-Use Planning.

He says he first got involved in 2019 when the inaugural event was being planned. In his own words:

There are many U of  T students of transportation who are unable to attend conferences in-person for various reasons. I wanted to be involved to provide my fellow students the presenting and networking opportunities I have been able to take advantage of at conferences such as TRB and IATBR. In 2019, I organized a viewing of the first BTR conference in the ITS boardroom [at UTTRI].

I appreciate the diversity of topics we are able to elicit by hosting the conference online. For example, in one session, there was a presentation on urban planning in Montreal, and another about motorcycles in rural Tanzania. Despite the different settings, there was a common theme of the misallocation of road space among uses. It is great when we can make these connections between researchers who might not otherwise interact.

Jason plans to continue his involvement in BTR and invites other transportation researchers in Toronto – whether students, faculty, or members of industry – to reach out to him if they are interested in becoming involved. He can be reached by email at jason.hawkins@mail.utoronto.ca.