Modelling on the Move: Towards Transport System Transitions?

Lead Research Organisation: University of Westminster
Department Name: Faculty of Arch & the Built Environment

Abstract

This seminar series will bring together researchers from different disciplines and practitioners to discuss innovative ways of responding to pressing policy problems. Twenty-first century societies face three interlinked and seemingly intractable energy problems: climate change, obesity, and oil depletion. The need for change is urgent: the UK has set legally binding greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets of 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. All sectors must decarbonise, but the transport sector is lagging behind, even though moving to a highly active, low carbon transport system would generate substantial health and environmental benefits.

Meeting this challenge requires new collaborations, new perspectives, and new combinations of existing methods. We are going to focus on transport modelling, which uses mathematical equations to represent how people, vehicles, and goods travel. Transport modelling plays a key role in policy development and policy choice, and whilst it is changing in response to the need for systemic transitions in transport, it is unclear whether changes so far have been fundamental enough. More profound changes may be necessary and we will respond to these challenges by creating new collaborations between modellers, social scientists, and population health scientists, in order to explore approaches to transport modelling that can help us understand, and bring forward, the necessary system transition.

Two seminars focus specifically on bringing in new approaches and new types of data (evidence). Transport models have traditionally used economic concepts of behaviour; the 'rational actor' operating in accordance with self-interest, within a system in equilibrium. However, behaviour is often not premised on this narrow instrumentalist rationality, and transport systems are in a constant process of change. To deal with these issues, and the pressing need for transport system transitions, our seminar series will bring in social and cultural theorists, to learn more about how we might model cultural and political processes shaping transport decisions and the development of transport policies. This will involve discussing how data might be used within new generation transport models, which can incorporate qualitative as well as quantitative data.

A key issue covered in the series is how to make models more participatory, involving practitioners and the public in contributing to model building. The seminar series is not only aimed at academics; policy-makers and other stakeholders will be invited to present and participate, particularly in the three seminars more aimed at addressing their interests and concerns. The first of these, the opening event, will launch the seminar series; it will introduce the key questions to be tackled and disseminate important background information (such as existing projects relating to this series, and key texts that will inform the seminar series as it progresses). The fifth seminar will also be particularly relevant to research users: it will focus on participation, and discuss the different ways in which models can be made more transparent and participatory, while also addressing barriers to, and problems with, user involvement.

The final event we are planning will form part of the annual ESRC Festival of Social Science. Currently entitled 'But Why Does the Model Say That? Beyond the Black Box', it will be aimed at stakeholders and practitioners, including people who engage with transport models as community members. The aim will be both to demystify modelling, and to explore how far new forms of modelling can be 'owned' or 'appropriated' as well as understood by research users. Examples will be drawn from work done at the earlier seminars and projects in progress or carried out by seminar group members. The event will seek to empower research users to understand and to challenge models, and to think about how modelling could be done differently.

Planned Impact

This research fits well with the ESRC's three strategic priorities, generating impacts in a number of associated areas. Firstly, planning for and achieving transport transitions clearly contributes to economic performance and sustainable growth. Secondly, our seminar series is closely tied to understanding behaviour change (both individual and organisational change) with a view to planning interventions that will contribute to transport transitions. Thirdly, this proposal seeks to foreground a deeper engagement with issues of equity and fairness and a broader range of understandings of justice in transport modelling (drawing on, for example, the environmental justice literature, and work on health inequalities). This is particularly relevant in terms of our key theme of increasing practitioner and public participation, but has broader relevance in that transitions must be perceived by the public to be socially just and inclusive.

The proposal therefore delivers benefits in all three areas. It challenges academics and practitioners to think beyond traditional transport modelling, incorporating the need for profound social, technological, political, and cultural changes in the way we organise transportation. In contributing to the development of a low carbon, more physically active transport system, this proposal has the potential to generate substantial public benefits.

Key direct beneficiaries include transport professionals from local and national government, as well as from other types of organisation including NGOs (organisations that will be involved include DfT, TfL, Sustrans, CTC, and RoadPeace). This includes policy-makers, planners and engineers, who routinely use transport models to develop policy and infrastructural changes. These practitioners will be interested in learning about new modelling approaches and techniques (seminars 2-3), and in the opportunity to reflect upon the use of models in policy, how this might be improved, and how practitioners and the public can be involved in the development of a new generation of models (seminars 4-6). They will also be engaged in discussing to what extent the various developments in academic modelling discussed in the seminars can be transferred to policy and practitioner communities (seminars 4-6). Transport is a key interest of concern to the wider public, and we have identified key community groups and stakeholders who will be interested in attending (e.g. the Movement for Liveable London).

The public will benefit through transport professionals becoming more aware of different modelling approaches, and different perspectives and data that can be incorporated within transport models. There will be benefits related to our focus not only on participation, but also upon developing a reflexive understanding of the use of modelling in policy, including ways in which the public often find modelling evidence confusing or alienating. Through making choices about approaches, data, and underlying assumptions more explicit and encouraging the use of a wider range of modelling approaches, we hope to make modelling more accessible to the public. Discussions about visioning and visualisations, and understanding and handling uncertainty, can help develop the communication of modelling findings to the public and make questions about values more explicit (for example, in the weighting of different outcomes). Increasing public understanding of transport modelling has intrinsic benefit and the approach may be transferable to other policy areas using modelling.

These benefits will continue beyond the seminar series. The website will continue as a resource for information about new modelling approaches, remaining live for three years after the project and updated regularly by the PI with details of related publications and projects developed by participants. The new cross-disciplinary collaborations with research users will form the basis for follow-on projects.

Publications

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Aldred R (2014) Why culture matters for transport policy: the case of cycling in the UK in Journal of Transport Geography

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Aldred R (2015) Does More Cycling Mean More Diversity in Cycling? in Transport Reviews

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Aldred R (2019) Barriers to investing in cycling: Stakeholder views from England. in Transportation research. Part A, Policy and practice

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Aldred R (2019) Contextualising Safety in Numbers: a longitudinal investigation into change in cycling safety in Britain, 1991-2001 and 2001-2011. in Injury prevention : journal of the International Society for Child and Adolescent Injury Prevention

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Aldred R (2019) Cyclists in shared bus lanes: could there be unrecognised impacts on bus journey times? in Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers - Transport

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Aldred Rachel (2015) Adults' attitudes towards child cycling: a study of the impact of infrastructure in EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURE RESEARCH

 
Description Key findings relate to the series aim of using different disciplines, themes and topic areas to open up new avenues for thinking about transport and modelling. For example, Peter Jones' review of transport modelling's academic history at the launch event showed how disciplinary assumptions shape the kinds of questions asked (and not asked). The second seminar brought public health modellers and transport modellers together, exploring the 'taken-for-granted' in each discipline from the perspective of the other.

The third event asked how we might use qualitative data to develop different kinds of transport models; for example, through better understanding how societal shifts in transport systems relate to individual-level attitudinal and behavioural change. The fourth event focused on social theory, including a talk by Paul Timms on the role of metaphors and narratives within transport models.

The fifth event, on participatory modelling, discussed the limits of expert-driven approaches, why we might want greater user involvement in modelling, and what problems there might be. Finally the sixth event brought together practitioners, consultants, policy-makers, advocates and academics to focus on cycling, including Helen Bowkett and Tim Gent on data limitations and what kinds of data we need to better model for cycling.
Exploitation Route The economic and societal impacts anticipated are primarily around encouraging developments in existing modelling approaches and the greater use of a plurality of modelling methods. This can help transport modelling better address and/or incorporate under-studied ideas (e.g. around understanding behaviour in relation to practices rather than attitudes), modes (e.g. walking and cycling), and disciplines (e.g. public health). There is clearly interest in these issues (evidenced by Modelling World and TfL interest, representing the practitioner cutting edge) and the seminar series has started to bring people together to work further on them.

For example, our second seminar brought together those doing public health modelling with those doing transport modelling, and developed transport modellers' understanding of how their work might incorporate health issues and health modelling approaches (and vice versa). This has helped strengthen and develop collaborations such as that mentioned between Co-I James Woodcock and DfT (see above). Our third seminar generated insights into the potential use of qualitative data (a relatively new area), and to develop this further I organised a work-in-progress webinar on using qualitative data within agent-based modelling (13th June), under the aegis of the Changing Commutes project.
Sectors Transport

URL http://modellingonthemove.org/
 
Description When the award was active the website attracted just under 9,000 visitors (nearly 20,000 pageloads). It is still available four years after the end of the series and continues to attract visitors. The website contains speaker presentations, audio and additional material. Comments from practitioners (e.g. on LinkedIn) and analysis of the weblog suggest these resources attract a practitioner and academic audience. Series activities continue to generate dissemination activities and follow-on work has attracted further funding. Collaborations developed include work with Transport for London and their contractors around integrating cycling into transport modelling, and work supported by CILT on modelling bus-cycle interactions. Some seminar participants are involved in the major funded DfT project creating a national Propensity to Cycle Tool and associated underlying model. Individual discussions and joint events have taken place; an early example being my invitation in March 2013 to speak to TfL's HAM (Highways Assignment Model) User Group; another being a session of Modelling World, 5th June 2014, where I spoke alongside Yaron Hollander (TfL) and Co-I James Woodcock. A report uploaded to the website summarises some key issues discussed and outlines challenges and opportunities for future work. This was promoted and publicised at Modelling World and similar events. The series contributed to TfL's work developing new modelling methods including the Cynemon cyclist flow model. TfL presented and gained feedback at the final seminar, while I presented insights from the seminars to TfL (as mentioned above). Co-I James Woodcock is working with DfT on including incorporating morbidity as well as mortality in WebTAG (Transport Analysis Guidance). The seminar series has encouraged TfL to set up a group investigating the Economic Case for Cycling (including work on demand forecasting/scenario building). I am a core member of this group.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Transport
Impact Types Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description Evidence to Get Britain Cycling inquiry, 2013
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
Impact I was invited to give oral evidence to the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into cycling in January 2013. With others my input helped to keep the profile of cycling high, and contributed to the obtaining of some initial (limited) funding for cycle safety in response to the inquiry.
 
Description Expert Witness to Greater London Authority hearing on cycle safety
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Participation in advisory committee
Impact My work has contributed to the growing salience of cycling in London and the rise of a more inclusive approach (as described in the Mayor's Vision for Cycling, published in 2013) that seeks to plan for cycling for a range of ages and abilities, involving substantial infrastructural funding.
 
Description Expert witness for GLA in 2014 and 2016
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
Impact Helped to shift attitudes towards cycling in London, complementing the cross-party consensus that critically supports the goals of the Mayor's Vision. In particular this involves seeing cycling as a system or service, taking subjective as well as objective safety seriously, and understanding cycling as potentially a transport mode for all kinds of people, not just an eccentric or brave minority.
 
Description CEMORE Visiting Research Fellowship
Amount £2,000 (GBP)
Organisation Lancaster University 
Department Centre for Mobilities Research (CeMoRe)
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2014 
End 07/2014
 
Description CILT Seed Corn Funding
Amount £7,500 (GBP)
Organisation Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2015 
End 06/2015
 
Description Continuation of DfT Funding (Propensity to Cycle Phases 2 and 3)
Amount £60,000 (GBP)
Organisation Department of Transport 
Department DfT, DVLA and VOSA
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2016 
End 03/2017
 
Description Creative Exchange
Amount £15,423 (GBP)
Organisation Blaze 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2014 
End 03/2014
 
Description RM5019 - SO-7766 PROVISION OF RESEARCH PROGRAMME INTO CYCLING: PROPENSITY TO CYCLE
Amount £118,000 (GBP)
Funding ID RM5019 - SO-7766 
Organisation Department of Transport 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2015 
End 06/2015
 
Description Transport for London research funding (first two years of longitudinal survey)
Amount £65,000 (GBP)
Organisation Transport for London 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2015 
End 10/2018
 
Description British Cycling: Benefits of Investing in Cycling 
Organisation British Cycling
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Wrote the literature/research review 'Benefits of Investing in Cycling'. This was published and was sent to every MP in advance of the House of Commons debate on cycling in October 2014.
Collaborator Contribution British Cycling funded and published the document.
Impact Report: Benefits of Investing in Cycling
Start Year 2014
 
Description Buses and Bicycles Modelling Collaboration 
Organisation Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Partnership involving research into buses and bicycles, supported by CILT.
Collaborator Contribution TfL are supporting the research via advice, access to data, and some funding. CILT are funding the research. PJA are working on the research and supporting in-kind.
Impact Just begun so no outputs as yet. Relevant disciplines include modelling, planning, geography and sociology.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Buses and Bicycles Modelling Collaboration 
Organisation Phil Jones Associates
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Partnership involving research into buses and bicycles, supported by CILT.
Collaborator Contribution TfL are supporting the research via advice, access to data, and some funding. CILT are funding the research. PJA are working on the research and supporting in-kind.
Impact Just begun so no outputs as yet. Relevant disciplines include modelling, planning, geography and sociology.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Buses and Bicycles Modelling Collaboration 
Organisation Transport for London
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Partnership involving research into buses and bicycles, supported by CILT.
Collaborator Contribution TfL are supporting the research via advice, access to data, and some funding. CILT are funding the research. PJA are working on the research and supporting in-kind.
Impact Just begun so no outputs as yet. Relevant disciplines include modelling, planning, geography and sociology.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Modelling the impact of cycle investment 
Organisation Mott Macdonald UK Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Working with Mott on a TfL contract modelling the impact of cycle investment. My contribution mainly involves a literature/data review.
Collaborator Contribution Mott MacDonald are updating and developing the CY-PET model used by TfL.
Impact Just begun so no outputs, but will lead to my producing a literature/data review.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Modelling the impact of cycle investment 
Organisation Transport for London
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Working with Mott on a TfL contract modelling the impact of cycle investment. My contribution mainly involves a literature/data review.
Collaborator Contribution Mott MacDonald are updating and developing the CY-PET model used by TfL.
Impact Just begun so no outputs, but will lead to my producing a literature/data review.
Start Year 2014
 
Description National Propensity to Cycle Tool 
Organisation Department of Transport
Department DfT, DVLA and VOSA
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution This DfT-funded project is academically led by CEDAR, University of Cambridge and Westminster University is a subcontractor. It is creating a free, open-source tool to visualise and analyse cycling potential in England under a range of scenarios. Two related awards (ESRC and EPSRC - impact funding via University of Cambridge) are assisting with user engagement and dissemination. My role (Westminster funding component approx. £60,000) is to lead on evidence reviews, policy analysis, and user involvement. I have been organising events, carrying out a systematic review, writing narrative reviews, speaking at stakeholder events, and am now leading an online survey on barriers to providing for cycling.
Collaborator Contribution University of Cambridge is the overall lead academic institution; Leeds University is leading on tool development, and LSHTM on data analysis.
Impact Several papers are already under peer review, talks, demonstrations and user testing sessions have taken place at academic and stakeholder events.
Start Year 2014
 
Description 'Transport Modelling: fact, forecast or fiction?' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited to be a panellist at event organised by Transport Planning Society discussing transport modelling.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://tps.org.uk/transport-modelling-fact-forecast-or-fiction
 
Description 1st August, 2014 - BBC London News - making cycling more demographically diverse 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I spoke about gender and cycling in London: how do we make cycling more demographically diverse?

Ongoing media and stakeholder interest in my work.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://rachelaldred.org/media/
 
Description Cycling and Transport Modelling: talk to TfL Modellers (2013) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk given as part of Transport for London's regular modellers' meetings for users of the HAM models.

Ongoing partnership work including as part of a contract for TfL working on improving the modelling of the impact of cycling interventions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Cycling seminar for DfT analyst community, April 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I was invited to give a talk on my research and cycling policy to the DfT analysts' seminar series; around 40 attended. ("The DfT analyst community - economists, statisticians, social researchers, operational researchers, transport modellers and scientists and engineers - works closely across organisational boundaries to maintain and enhance capability, share insights and best practices, and co-ordinate research and analysis.")
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Evidence to London Assembly 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Gave evidence to London Assembly for Congestion Inquiry.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Invited talk on Transport Economics to Hertfordshire County Council 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited talk to Hertfordshire practitioners and others on transport economics - putting forward a critical perspective on appraisal.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Invited talk to the Transport Economists Group, September 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited to speak on 'Is Transport Appraisal Failing Cycling' to the Transport Economists' Group. Continued my intervention into appraisal techniques which has now been strengthened by Yaron Hollander's work (ex-of TfL), who has published a report on the topic recently making related/similar points.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description London Assembly Transport Committee meeting 10 December 2014 - CYCLING 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Invited to give evidence to the second time to London Assembly Transport Committee. There is a live web link from the event which is also viewable afterwards, and people have contacted me about this (and invited me to other events based on my appearances before the Committee).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Member of Congestion Study Expert Panel (TfL Commissioned Independent Report) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Invited member of expert panel overseeing/advising independent report on congestion commissioned by Transport for London and carried out by consultants.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Member: TfL Cycling Economic Case Working Group 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Member (representing academia) of TfL working group on the Economic Case for Cycling. Ongoing. Have presented, reviewed documents, attended events as part of this.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2016
 
Description Modelling bus-cycle interactions (talk for Modelling World conference) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited talk on my modelling work for Modelling World (annual national practitioner conference)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://landor.co.uk/modellingworld/2016/confirmedspeakers.php
 
Description Personal website 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact My personal website contains publications, blog posts, and other material, is regularly updated and often attracts hundreds of visitors for individual posts. I also run a Twitter account @RachelAldred with nearly 5,000 followers. Both are used by practitioners, academics and others to contact me.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2013,2014,2015,2016
URL http://www.rachelaldred.org
 
Description Peter Walker, Guardian Bike Blog, 16th October 2014 - 'Why Cycling is Great for Everyone, not just cyclists'. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Peter Walker interviewed me and wrote an article about my work.

Ongoing interest and contact from members of the public and stakeholders about my projects.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.theguardian.com/environment/bike-blog/2014/oct/16/why-cyling-is-great-for-everyone-not-ju...
 
Description Presentation to Cycling & Society Symposium on changes in cycling uptake by gender and age (September 2014) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talk to the Cycling and Society Symposium 2014. Presented analysis of Census data on changes in cycling uptake by gender and age.

N/A.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Re-thinking movement and place hierarchies (November 2014) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Spoke critiquing 'movement' and 'place' dichotomies and hierarchies

Spoke to other participants about potential collaborations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL https://www.transportxtra.com/userfiles/brochures/CyclingandWalkingProgramme.pdf
 
Description Summer School on Transport, Aalto University Finland, 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Invited to speak (two slots) at Aalto University's annual Summer School on Transport. Later contacted by postgraduate students interested in my research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Talk on research on cycling, within the broader context of changing research and policy challenges (2014) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talk organised by the Policy Studies Institute where I spoke about my research

Discussions about collaborations with PSI members.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Why has modelling often marginalised cycling? Views from the Modelling on the Move series (2014) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited talk for the Modelling World practitioner conference 2014.

Ongoing modelling related conversations and collaboration including with TfL.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014