Impact of Transformational Technologies on Land Uses

Many observers suggest that rapidly evolving technologies in a number of fields will have transformational impacts on land use and transportation in settings ranging from rural to intensely urban. For example, changes in telecommunication have fostered telecommuting and development of on-demand delivery and transportation services that in turn may be changing patterns of work and home locations, vehicle ownership and use, demand for parking facilities, and utilization of curb space in urban centers. Similarly, expanding application of 3-D printing, E-commerce, and unmanned aerial systems (UASs, popularly referred to as drones) together seem poised to shift industrial supply chains and utilization of warehouse space, leading to changes in freight transportation patterns and demand for investment in intermodal transfer facilities. State departments of transportation (DOTs), metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), local government authorities, and other public-sector decision makers are increasingly confronted with questions of how to ensure that communities recognize the potential consequences that transformational technologies may have on their economic activity and land use and that public investments in transportation facilities and services are managed to maintain economic vitality and high quality of life. For the purposes of this research, transformational technologies (TTs) are any of a broad range of evolving new applications of science, engineering, and societal organization that have the potential to transform how people and institutions use land and transportation systems to support economic and social activity. Examples of TTs—many are discussed in technical and popular media—include wireless telecommunications, shared vehicles, connected vehicles, automated vehicles, alternative-fuel vehicles, smart cities and communities, big data analytics, internet-of-things, as well as UASs, 3-D printing, and more. These TTs, individually and together, are already influencing on how businesses and individuals using rights-of-way, curb space and ancillary transportation facilities (for example, parking and intermodal transfer facilities), and the land and structures accommodating activities that are travel-demand intensive. Continued development and application of TTs seem likely to accelerate such impacts. Research is needed to provide guidance to assist DOT and other public-sector decision makers responsible for considering how TTs will affect travel behavior and demand for and use of land influencing transportation infrastructure and services. The objective of this research is to develop a guidebook to help DOT and other transportation-system decision makers assess the likely impact of transformational technologies on future activity centers, land use, and travel demand. Examples should be provided to illustrate application of the guidance to address issues encountered by these decision makers. The guidebook should include at least the following components: (1) Characterization of the significant relationships between particular TTs or groups of TTs and land use and transportation demand; (2) Identification of typical short- and long-term issues facing decision makers, decisions to be made, and consequences related TTs' impact on use of land and transportation system configuration and management; (3) Identification of metrics of change attributable to TTs—for example, population and employment, numbers and percentage of trips, conversions of land use, travel-demand time peaking, road-use and parking revenues—for evaluating the significance of TTs for land use and transportation; (4) Identification of the institutional or jurisdictional partnerships that are needed to manage land use and transportation-system investment and operations to respond to TTs; and (5) Description of information needed to support effective transportation-system investment and management decisions. To ensure its usefulness to decision makers and other stakeholders, the guidebook should include examples of issues related to TTs and the guide's use to address such issues. The guidebook should be useful to leadership and staff of DOTs, MPOs, and other stakeholders in state and local government responsible for considering such issues, currently and into the future, as they may affect infrastructure investment and land use and community planning.


  • English


  • Status: Proposed
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 08-117

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Lemer, Andrew

  • Start Date: 20171113
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • Source Data: RiP Project 41630

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01634935
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 08-117
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: May 18 2017 1:00AM