Strategic approaches to the management and operation of transportation systems blend knowledge of agency goals, asset conditions, traffic and safety performance, and finance and budget constraints. This knowledge is based on data and many agencies are implementing consolidated data governance practices to improve data quality, to maximize the value of the data to the agency, and to better manage the data collection and analysis resources.
The private sector also takes a strategic approach to management, one aspect of which is business intelligence that comprises the strategies and technologies used by enterprises for the data analysis of business information. Business intelligence technologies provide historical, current and predictive views of business operations; common functions include reporting, online analytical processing, analytics, data mining, process mining, complex event processing, business performance management, benchmarking, text mining, predictive analytics, and prescriptive analytics.
Despite differences in how the private sector and transportation agencies operate (e.g., competition v. collaboration, level of transparency in decision-making), it may be the case that various business intelligence practices and methods could be effectively incorporated by transportation agencies to improve activities such as trade-off analysis and enterprise resource planning. Of particular interest are techniques that would identify cultural, economic, and other trends and “black swan events” that will affect the transportation system. Incorporation of these techniques could, in turn, could lead to more strategic management of the transportation system and its operations to better address overall agency goals and objectives.
The objective of this project is to catalog new techniques to extract actionable information from traditional and new data sources that transportation agencies can employ to enhance their decision-making processes. The project will be based largely on identifying promising business intelligence practices from the private sector and exploring their utility using transportation agency and program management scenarios. These scenarios should cover a broad range of agency management levels and functions, including system operations.
The NCHRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objective. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can be realistically accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposer’s current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objective.
The work plan must be divided logically into detailed tasks that are necessary to fulfill the research objective and include appropriate milestones and interim deliverables. Tasks shall incorporate appropriate opportunities for the project panel to review the progress and provide feedback, including an interim meeting when the contractor has compiled a substantial amount of information and decisions need to be made on the remaining work to develop the final deliverables.
Tasks within the work plan are expected to:
- Scan and synthesize current and emerging business intelligence best practices, technologies, and data analytics applications in the private sector and identify those that are potentially most applicable to transportation agencies in nature, extent, and objectives.
- Review the literature to identify common transportation agency decision-making processes and capabilities, in domains such as operational management, infrastructure management, investment management, and organizational and corporate management. The review should include how risk is considered in the processes.
- Describe types of nontraditional data and information sources that could be relevant to transportation agency and program management decisions.
- Explore and propose in detail how the business intelligence techniques and new data and information sources could be beneficially incorporated into transportation agency and program management decisions.
- Briefly describe the mechanics of how the selected business intelligence techniques could be incorporated into an agency’s practices, including determining who should access the information, how the information should be packaged (including visualization techniques), and resources needed to implement the technique.
The final deliverables will include:
- A final report documenting the entire project. The report should define business intelligence and describe how it is used in the private sector. It should also describe how these practices can be adopted to transportation agencies;
- Executive summary of the report;
- An electronic presentation on the research results that can be tailored for specific audiences;
- Recommendations on needs and priorities for additional research; and
- A stand-alone technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products” (see Special Note B for additional information).
Note: Following receipt of the draft final deliverables, the remaining 3 months shall be for NCHRP review and comment and for research agency preparation of the final deliverables.
A. Proposals should include a task-by-task breakdown of labor hours for each staff member as shown in Figure 4 in the brochure, "Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals" (http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/crp/docs/ProposalPrep.pdf). Proposals also should include a breakdown of all costs (e.g., wages, indirect costs, travel, materials, and total) for each task using Figures 5 and 6 in the brochure. Please note that TRB Cooperative Research Program subawards (selected proposers are considered subawards to the National Academy of Sciences, the parent organization of TRB) must comply with 2 CFR 200 – Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards. These requirements include a provision that proposers without a "federally" Negotiated Indirect Costs Rate Agreement (NICRA) shall be subject to a maximum allowable indirect rate of 10% of Modified Total Direct Costs. Modified Total Direct Costs include all salaries and wages, applicable fringe benefits, materials and supplies, services, travel, and up to the first $25,000 of each lower-tier subaward and subcontract. Modified Total Direct Costs exclude equipment, capital expenditures, charges for patient care, rental costs, tuition remission, scholarships and fellowships, participant support costs and the portion of each lower-tier subaward and subcontract in excess of $25,000.
B. The NCHRP is a practical, applied research program that produces implementable products addressing problems faced by transportation practitioners and managers. The benefits of NCHRP research are realized only when the results are implemented in state DOTs and other agencies. Implementation of the research product must be considered throughout the process, from problem statement development to research contract and beyond completion of the research. Item 4(c), "Anticipated Research Results," must include the following: (a) the "product" expected from the research, (b) the audience or "market" for this product, (c) a realistic assessment of impediments to successful implementation, and (d) the institutions and individuals who might take leadership in deploying the research product. The project panel will develop and maintain an implementation plan throughout the life of the project. The research team will be expected to provide input to an implementation team consisting of panel members, AASHTO committee members, the NCHRP Implementation Coordinator, and others in order to meet the goals of NCHRP Active Implementation: Moving Research into Practice, available at http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/nchrp/docs/NCHRP_ActiveImplementation.pdf.
C. Item 5 in the proposal, "Qualifications of the Research Team," must include a section labeled "Disclosure." Information relevant to the NCHRP's need to ensure objectivity and to be aware of possible sources of significant financial or organizational conflict of interest in conducting the research must be presented in this section of the proposal. For example, under certain conditions, ownership of the proposing agency, other organizational relationships, or proprietary rights and interests could be perceived as jeopardizing an objective approach to the research effort, and proposers are asked to disclose any such circumstances and to explain how they will be accounted for in this study. If there are no issues related to objectivity, this should be stated.
D. Proposals are evaluated by the NCHRP staff and project panels consisting of individuals collectively very knowledgeable in the problem area. Selection of an agency is made by the project panel considering the following factors: (1) the proposer's demonstrated understanding of the problem; (2) the merit of the proposed research approach and experiment design; (3) the experience, qualifications, and objectivity of the research team in the same or closely related problem area; (4) the plan for ensuring application of results; (5) the proposer's plan for participation by Disadvantaged Business Enterprises--small firms owned and controlled by minorities or women; and (6) the adequacy of the facilities.
Note: The proposer's plan for participation by Disadvantaged Business Enterprises should be incorporated in Item 12 of the proposal.
E. Copyrights - All data, written materials, computer software, graphic and photographic images, and other information prepared under the contract and the copyrights therein shall be owned by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The contractor and subcontractors will be able to publish this material for non-commercial purposes, for internal use, or to further academic research or studies with permission from TRB Cooperative Research Programs. The contractor and subcontractors will not be allowed to sell the project material without prior approval by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. By signing a contract with the National Academy of Sciences, contractors accept legal responsibility for any copyright infringement that may exist in work done for TRB. Contractors are therefore responsible for obtaining all necessary permissions for use of copyrighted material in TRB's Cooperative Research Programs publications. For guidance on TRB's policies on using copyrighted material please consult Section 5.4, "Use of Copyrighted Material," in the Procedural Manual for Contractors.