In the last several years, a wealth of information on asset management has been developed as the results of research studies, peer exchanges, conferences, webinars, and other efforts to advance the use of asset management in State DOTs. Much of the information is available for practitioners to use, but it is spread out in a number of different locations making it difficult and time-consuming to find. For instance, the AASHTO/FHWA web conference series that was conducted over the past several years are available through AASHTO, the presentations for the most recent asset management conference are available through TRB, and examples of Transportation Asset Management Plans are available from the FHWA’s asset management websites. In addition, several states have established asset management websites where they have posted information such as organizational charts and asset management policies. As a result, practitioners spend an inordinate amount of time searching for information to assist them in the implementation of asset management. What is needed is a knowledge portal that serves as an interface for asset management practitioners to facilitate access to useful information in a simple, expedited manner.
The FHWA’s Transportation Asset Management Expert Task Group (TAM ETG) designed a proposed structure for the knowledge portal. The structure outlines the type of information to be included in the knowledge portal and outlines a structure for organizing the information so it is easy for practitioners to search on and retrieve information. The interactive knowledge portal should be developed to provide practitioners with the opportunity to search on a particular topic and access relevant documents and/or web links to information that has been garnered from multiple sources. Similar to Wikipedia, the site will serve as a collection of linked web pages that allows users to edit and contribute content on the web. Through the use of a gatekeeper the format will allow for browsing, searching and printing content from a central location.
Transportation agencies are facing increasing pressure to make performance-based asset management decisions that consider risk and long-term financial consequences. AASHTO is supporting the use of performance-based decisions, as evidenced by the recent publication and promotion of the Transportation Asset Management Guide – A Focus on Implementation. The passage of MAP-21 adds additional urgency to the matter since States are now required to develop an Asset Management Plan that documents how they intend to efficiently manage the condition of their assets and the performance of the system. As a result, there is tremendous interest among state highway agencies to advance their asset management implementation efforts.
At the same time, access to information is changing. In the past, agencies relied on printed reports as a way to provide information; however, today most practitioners rely on the internet as a primary source of information. However, searching the internet can be time consuming and each of the end users must initiate the search process to find what they are looking for. Having a central location that organizes and serves as the primary source for asset management information will simplify the search process for practitioners and help ensure that useful information is readily available to all interested parties as they strive to meet their MAP-21 obligations.
The objective of this research is to collect and organize the body of knowledge related to asset management into a web-based portal that can be used by individuals, agencies and states to improve the practice of asset management. This effort will also keep the site updated with new information for the duration of the contract. The portal will ultimately be hosted by AASHTO.