After several years of development, TransCAD 10 is now available! Apart from the usual assortment of performance improvements, there are notable new features and capabilities designed to support improved travel demand modeling.
Many of these improvements stem from the desire to offer enhanced support for disaggregate travel demand models, more adequate treatment of the time dimension in transportation models, computing large models faster supporting better convergence of model computations, and making it easier to develop and apply advanced models.
Many models, especially statewide models and travel demand models for large regions, have long run times that make them inconvenient to calibrate and apply in the planning process. Running models with feedback loops can be very time consuming as well. With our new parallel and distributed processing framework and software, these computations can be configured to run much more quickly with available hardware.
Parallel or distributed processing can be thought of as a complement to multi-threading that is already a key part of TransCAD procedures. Because there are diminishing returns using increased number of threads within a single process at some point, CPU resources can sometimes be better utilized by distributing the computational workload over multiple processes on the same machine or different ones. Our new distributed processing framework provides both alternatives and will help speed up a broad array of modeling tasks.
Use of multiple low-cost computers with distributed tasks is highly cost-effective and can make use of available resources that users may already have and are not in constant use. Without delving into the matter further, suffice to say that use of 2 computers can typically produce a 40% reduction in run times and use of three or more computers can reduce that time considerably further.
While TransCAD features several alternative user interfaces to completed models, the flowchart interface has been evolving as the preferred option. The flowchart interface is effectively an API for models that simplifies both model application development and model application by non-technical users. TransCAD has always outshone other software in providing clear, simple, and effective user interfaces to its functionality without requiring programming. The flowchart interface makes it easier to control model application and also to implement parallel processing. Tasks specified in the flowchart as parallel will be executed that way and use the appropriate computers. The flowchart UI makes it clear what the inputs and outputs are for each model step, provides one-click visualization of results and makes it easy to add pre and post process utilities and reports within a menu interface.
TransCAD software can be used by a wide range of professionals and using it does not require programming skills. However, TransCAD is also completely programmable using the Caliper GISDK, Python, native COM-compliant languages such as C++, and any other .Net enabled languages such as C# or C++/CLI.
In Version 10 of the TransCAD platform, Python is completely integrated as a supported programming language, providing seamless Python interoperability with the Caliper GISDK scripting language. Users can now harness the power of Python within TransCAD platform. Python programs can be accessed directly from TransCAD, TransCAD can be called from Python, and with Python in-lined with TransCAD, a broad and comprehensive array of Python libraries and capabilities, including machine learning and AI packages, can be leveraged together with TransCAD unparallel traffic and transportation analytic functionalities.
Transit route editing in TransCAD 10 has been overhauled and is much easier to use. You can see the route building in real time as you move the mouse over the street layer. Clicking the map while building the route is an intuitive and easy way to capture even the most complex route alignments. These same enhancements to control and editing also apply when realigning existing routes.
TransCAD has been enhanced in many ways to support implementation and deployment of activity-based models (ABM). These enhancements include a proper user interface for ActivitySim, components for all key activity-based model steps, and enhanced visualization of model outputs. There is also a completely native Caliper ABM that has been successfully deployed in several regions and that offers both conceptual and application software advances. Both types of ABMs are housed in user friendly flowchart model interfaces.
Developed initially for the Freight Analysis Framework (FAF) disaggregation and network assignment process, included in the FAF software is a new path-based traffic assignment method for long haul trucks. This method was shown to replicate independent GPS on utilized truck routes nationwide and is especially appropriate for use in statewide models.
There is now full support for foreign languages in TransCAD data. Languages can be mixed and matched in databases and dataviews.
Some years ago, Caliper implemented a unique time-based database for road networks. The motivation for this specialized "Master Network" was to enable modelers to only have to code each possible future project once and then be able to apply it in the desired future year scenarios. This solution obviated the need to edit each future year network scenario individually and also proved to be a means of reducing coding errors in future forecasts. Because this database contains all the information needed to track road network changes including phased development projects and work zones, it also makes it possible to roll back and roll forward the network geography in time.
Sponsored by projects from the Southern California Association of Governments and the Ohio DOT, Caliper has been enhancing the master network to make it even more useful for TransCAD users. These enhancements make it easier to manage and query new projects and to merge projects coded by multiple users.
TransCAD Online is a cloud-based subscription service for sharing maps, model data, and other TransCAD outputs online without the need for any programming or IT infrastructure. This functionality can be limited to internal workgroups or shared with broader audiences including the public.
The TransCAD Online service also provides access to specific Caliper-hosted public and private web applications and software services built upon the TransCAD platform. TransCAD Online also provides a data portal for our new Transography data products and services.