Public infrastructure managers, environmental planners, freight shippers, and carriers need to understand and anticipate freight flows between regions, in corridors, and on particular links. They rely on freight data for management, planning, and improving supply-chain efficiency. This requires a variety of data describing the types of freight; volumes; origins, interchanges, and destinations; and the characteristics of modes (air, truck, rail, maritime, and pipeline) that carry that freight (e.g., quality and cost of service). Individual shippers and carriers capture and archive information on shipments, commodity type, volume, schedule, mode, and levels of service in the logistics system. There are also vendors that collect real-time data for carriers and shippers, as well as consultants who analyze and transform those data into useful management information. Although many parties collect and use freight data, there are several significant barriers to data sharing that reduce the effective use of such data. First, private entities may be reluctant to share proprietary data because they may expose themselves to disclosure risks that can lead to competition or self-incrimination problems. Another barrier is the cost associated with collecting, organizing, storing, and submitting data. In some cases, the private sector may be prepared to share data, but public agencies may be unwilling or unable to sign strong confidentiality agreements. Research is needed to identify systematic and strategic approaches to facilitate the sharing of freight data for both public and private sectors to gain the full benefit of data sharing.
The objective of this research is to develop a guidebook to help government agencies, non-government organizations, and the private sector share freight data. The guidebook should include a description of current practices for sharing data, sample agreements, guidelines for enabling an efficient freight data-sharing program, data-sharing agreement templates, and procedures for overcoming potential obstacles.