Office of VP for Research
The Accessibility Observatory (AO) at the University of Minnesota is the nation's leading resource for the research and application of accessibility-based transportation system evaluation. Accessibility, which examines land use and transportation systems together, measures how many opportunities (such as jobs, health care, and education) can be reached in a given time, using a given mode of travel.
The work of AO involves calculating travel time in all directions, for varying lengths of time, from each census block in the United States (~11 million starting places) and then counting up what opportunities are encountered in these different travel time isochrones. Constructing travel networks, routing trips, and aggregating results are all computationally intensive processes requiring both high processor core and virtual memory resources. Input data and calculated results are stored in spatial databases (Postgres) with Python and Java code constructing the data pipeline.