SafeTREC Spotlight: Kangsoo Kim

I am investigating whether credible forecasts are possible for complicated transport systems, or whether complicated models are needed for planning and policy development.
Kangsoo Kim
July 19, 2021
Welcome back to the SafeTREC Spotlight Series where we highlight a SafeTREC team member and share their stories, work and interest in transportation and safety research. In today's post, meet SafeTREC's Visiting Scholar, Dr. Kangsoo Kim.

Can you share a little bit about yourself and your role at SafeTREC?

I have been at SafeTREC as a visiting scholar since February 2021. I have served as a Senior Research Fellow at the Korea Development Institute (KDI) and conducted research on infrastructure development, public finance, transport planning, and Public-Private Partnership (PPP). Prior to that, I was Vice President and Director of the Department of Land and Infrastructure Policy and an Executive Director of the Public and Private Infrastructure Investment Management Center (PIMAC).

I obtained my Ph.D. from the University of Leeds in England and worked as a Post-doc at Napier University in Edinburgh, Scotland. I was fortunate enough to enjoy life and culture not only in the U.K but also in Europe. During my last sabbatical year (2012~2013), I lived in Davis here in California but now live in Walnut Creek. I really love California's clear skies and (comparatively) cool weather. This blessed environment allows me to focus more on my research and achieve better results.

I was born on Jeju Island, which is known as the Hawaii of Korea and my parents still live there. If you have a chance to visit Korea, I recommend you visit there. You will see the charm of the volcanic island and experience the traditional culture and language unique to Jeju.

What current projects are you working on at SafeTREC?

At SafeTREC, my research focuses on two areas: analyzing and measuring the “economic” cost of traffic crashes which is mainly ascertained from the direct and indirect costs, i.e. the net production loss to society. I am also researching robust decision-making when under the deep uncertainty of traffic demand forecasting, and how it can then be applied to contract conditions in a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) project.  

What issues are you particularly interested or passionate about?

I am very interested in the robust decision-making (RDM) framework, which could establish a transport policy or plan while minimizing any negative effects caused by the deep uncertainty in forecasting.

I am investigating whether credible forecasts are possible for complicated transport systems, or whether complicated models are needed for planning and policy development. Predictions in a fast-changing world can be counterproductive and sometimes dangerous. I am interested in broad-ranging forecasting scenarios that assess performance of policies and planning in conducting forecasting, rather than relying on assumptions around accurate forecasting.

What do you like to do outside of work?

What I love next to my family and research is playing golf, tennis and soccer. I've been playing tennis for about 30 years and can say I'm pretty good at it. I also like to play golf. I love walking on the green grass as well as deciding how much distance to hit with which club. This is very much like the research decision-making process under uncertainty. I have also been playing soccer for a long time and have participated in competitions as a representative of the research institute.

This Spotlight interview was conducted in collaboration with UC Berkeley SafeTREC. The opinions and perspectives expressed are those of the interviewee and not necessarily those of SafeTREC.