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).
STATUS: Proposals were received in response to the RFP. The panel will met in November 2017 to select a contractor to perform the work.