In Proceedings of the Transportation Research Board 90th annual meeting, The National Academies, Washington, DC (2011)
While traditional traffic safety and incident analysis has mostly focused on incident attributes data, such as the road location or the type of vehicle involved in the incident, there are other aspects in incident response that are temporal in nature and are more difficult to analyze. We describe how we used a visual analytics tool called LifeFlow to analyze incident response data. LifeFlow provides user-controlled overviews of event sequences (e.g. notification, arrival, clearance etc). It allows analysts to interactively explore temporal patterns, find anomalies in sequences and compare management practices. This type of analysis can potentially lead to process improvements and save human lives. In our case study we used NCHRP traffic incident data with more than 200,000 incidents reported by 8 different agencies in a period of about 28 months. Our experience suggests that even non expert transportation analysts can spot many anomalies in the data using the LifeFlow overviews, and are able to rapidly ask many questions and find differences between agencies.