R for Transport Applications: Handling Big Data in Spatial World

Course overview

This course teaches two skill-sets that are fundamental in modern transport research: programming and data analytics, with a focus on spatial data. Combining these enables powerful transport planning and analysis workflows for tackling a wide range of problems, including: 

  • How to effectively handle large transport datasets?
  • Where to locate new transport infrastructure?
  • How to develop automated and reproducible transport planning workflows?
  • How can increasingly available datasets on air quality, traffic and active travel be used to inform policy?
  • How to visualise results in an attractive and potentially on-line and interactive manner?

This course will provide tools, example code and data and above all face-to-face teaching to empower participants with new software to answer these questions and more. The focus is on the programming language R (we will briefly look at visualising results in QGIS). However, the principles and skills learned will be cross-transferable to other languages. By providing strong foundations in spatial data handling and the use of an up-coming language for statistical computing, R for Transport Applications aims to open a world of possibilities for generating insight from your transport datasets for researchers in the public sector, academia and industry alike.

As with any language, it is important to gain a strong understanding of the underlying syntax and structure before moving on to complex uses. This course therefore starts with the foundations: how R can be used to load, manipulate, process, transform and visualise spatial data.

In terms of content, the first day will focus on how the R language works, general concepts in efficient R programming, and spatial and non-spatial data classes in R. Building on this strong foundation the second day will cover the application of the skills developed in Day 1 to transport datasets, with a focus on geographical transport data.

Computers with RStudio installed will be available for course attendees. However, for maximum benefit, we recommend participants bring their own laptops, with the latest version of R installed. Steps to set-up a suitable R/RStudio environment are described in sections 2.3 and 2.5 of the book Efficient R Programming.

Designed for people in the industry, these courses will develop up-to-date skills and knowledge for all transport professionals. They typically last 1-5 days and are accredited to contribute to your personal development requirements.Short courses are taught by active research staff and teachers, with external experts contributing, and are normally held at the Institute for Transport Studies. Alternate arrangements can be made to bring a course closer to you.

These courses can also help you to attain credits towards a postgraduate qualification at the University of Leeds – you will have to formally apply to be a student here, so get in touch to find out more. All courses can be tailor-made to your company’s particular needs. Please get in touch to discuss bespoke course options.

Course structure

Day 1: 

  • Learn and consolidate the basics of R's syntax
  • Discover time-saving tips for efficient programming
  • Discover how add-on R packages such as dplyr can be used to improve productivity
  • Understand how R can be used to read, process and save transport-related datasets
  • Understand the structure of spatial data in R

Day 2: 

  • Be able to query, subset and analyse spatial objects
  • Have a working knowledge of fundamental GIS functions such as changing projections
  • Be proficient in the use of R to create maps using add-on packages such as tmap
  • Have some experience with transport planning functions provided by stplanr

Who should attend?

Prior experience with transport datasets or common geographic data formats is essential.

Some exposure to software with a command-line interface, such as Stata, Python or R is highly recommended.

Attendees who are already proficient with their R programming skills are welcome to attend just the second day, although attendance of both days is recommended for most attendees: even advanced R users are likely to learn something on the first day.

The course is open to ITS Masters and PhD students, and external delegates. 

Venue details

The course will be held in ITS training facilities at the University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT.

Contact us

Short Courses Co-ordinator
Institute for Transport Studies
Leeds LS2 9JT
Email: cpd@its.leeds.ac.uk
Tel: 0113 343 9904
Fax: 0113 343 5334