A Chattanooga online transportation data hub that went live just over a year ago is drawing interest from other areas of the nation, an official said.
"I foresee other regions doing the same thing," said Debra Stone, a McKee Foods Corp. logistics official who's working with Thrive Regional Partnership, the nonprofit that analyzes growth in the area.
Thrive has rebranded the massive database from its old name, the Greater Chattanooga Freight Hub, to the Thrive Regional Infrastructure Portal, or TRIP, said Shannon Millsaps, the group's senior director of transportation and infrastructure.
The tool — focusing on the three-state, 16-county region around Chattanooga — is wider than for just use in the freight and logistics sector, Millsaps said in a phone interview. The portal involves not just the movement of freight but of people, she said.
Millsaps said, for example, the portal has data on electric vehicle charging locations. The Tennessee Valley Authority has crafted a plan to use grants and public-private partnerships to install fast-charging EV stations off interstate highways at locations not more than 50 miles apart, she said.
"We hope to update that every six months," Millsaps said.
Stone, who oversees Thrive's freight mobility coalition, said by phone the portal brings together people looking for data representing companies, transportation planning entities and government.
"Why it's so important and the beauty of Thrive is it brings together three distinct different groups," she said.
Stone said the portal holds data that is in one place but not in any other single place.
"It's exciting in that it's free," she said. "It's good for our region."
The portal can be accessed at thriveregionalpartnership.org. It hosted 323 users during the past 12 months with the platform having 12,557 page views in the period, according to Thrive.
"Ultimately, our goal is to continue to build on this thing," Millsaps said.
For example, she said, Thrive is working with the city of Fort Payne, Alabama, around freight issues it's experiencing.
"We're getting them comfortable with TRIP as a tool and building a data training program," Millsaps said.
Plans are to use that model with other communities in the region, especially those that don't have a lot of planning resources, she said.
If a private company needs a road widened, for example, the portal can provide data about how many cars pass by the business daily, Stone said.
"When you can prove your point, that's the value of data," she said.
The portal was designed in a collaboration between Thrive, Cleveland State Community College and Georgia Tech.
Chattanooga's proximity to major interstates and its growing presence of freight and logistics companies has earned it the nickname "Freight Alley." A study has estimated more than 10,000 daily through trucks utilize Interstate 75, and more than 9,000 are on Interstate 24 each day.
Also, the city is home to nearly two dozen freight brokers and shipping companies that help arrange or make freight shipments across the nation and, for some, around the globe.