State departments of transportation (DOTs) and other transportation agencies produce, exchange, manage, and use substantial quantities of data and information for project development and subsequent management of the system assets for which they are responsible. These agencies devote considerable resources to data collection and storage and often face challenges such as duplicating effort or gaps in data collected by various organizational units; ensuring that data sources are well documented and information is current; and providing the people responsible for planning, design, construction, and operations and maintenance of system assets with access to reliable current information for decision making.
Continuing rapid evolution of data and information technologies presents challenges as agencies seek to ensure that the transportation system delivers high performance and the agency functions effectively and efficiently. Remote sensing, Lidar, GIS, 3-D graphic displays, and virtual reality (to name a few of the newer developments) are supplementing or replacing data acquisition and information management practices once based on physical measurements and storage and display in large-format print media. Many agencies must deal with legacy data while avoiding obsolescence in their management practices. Typically fragmented DOT business practices and the decades-long processes of asset development and life-cycle service have produced disparate data sets that are poorly suited to effective long-term system asset and performance management.
Efforts are being made to address these problems. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) for example has developed a set of Core Data Principles (https://data.transportation.org/aashto-core-data-principles/) for transportation data. Ongoing research sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) will provide an analysis of the civil integrated management (CIM) data practices. Guidance produced by NCHRP, AASHTO, and FHWA addresses transportation asset management, information management, and data self-assessment (data value and data management)—see Special Note B. However, additional research is needed to provide agencies with guidance on opportunities for improving their information acquisition and management; data governance and maintenance workflows; human and business-support resources needed for data and information management; and procedures for assuring that reliable information for effective asset management is available when and where it is needed.
The objective of this research is to develop a guidebook presenting principles, organizational strategies, governance mechanisms, and practical examples for improving management of the processes for collecting data, developing useful information, and providing that information for decision making about management of the transportation system assets. The guidebook should assist practitioners addressing at least the following topics:
- Conducting agency self-assessments of information management practices (for example, a maturity model and leading-practices descriptions), using existing tools and techniques to the extent these are available;
- Exploring transferrable data and information management practices from a variety of sources—DOTs and others not necessarily restricted to domestic transportation agencies—that have demonstrated effective asset management;
- Considering how to incorporate evolving technologies and state-of-the-art management practices, for example by providing agencies with management scenarios and exemplary data models;
- Establishing organizational structure, personnel capabilities requirements, outsourcing policies and practices, and governance policies and procedures to support effective provision of asset management information;
- Assessing options for staff development, outsourcing, and other strategies for ensuring the agency has appropriate capability and capacity for asset information management; and
- Developing a management roadmap for implementing unified, enterprise-wide governance of asset data and information, from initial project development through transportation asset and performance management.
The research is planned to yield several products:
Interim Report 1 (IR1) presenting (a) a critical review of relevant current practice and research literature on asset-management data acquisition and information management and use; (b) a review of relevant leading asset data and information management practices of organizations other than domestic DOTs; (c) a review of applications of data analytics methods that asset-management decision makers could apply to discover useful information and improve decision making; and (d) new technology and practices likely to become available within the coming 2 to 5 years for data collection, for example through deployment of “smart cities” and connected and automated vehicles.
Interim Report 2 (IR2) presenting (a) an analysis of practices of DOTs and other relevant organizations to identify resource needs (for example, workforce and skill sets) and knowledge management practices regarding data and information management capabilities and (b) a system of maturity levels or other state-of-the-practice benchmarks to characterize a transportation agency’s asset-management information and management practices.
Interim Report 3 (IR3) presenting (a) strategies agencies can use to develop a management roadmap for implementing unified, enterprise-wide governance of asset data and (b) an annotated outline of the guidebook meeting the project objective.
Final documents comprising (a) the guidebook to assist DOTs and other transportation agencies in establishing, improving, and maintaining effective data and information management practices that support transportation system asset and performance management; (b) a summary description of the research conducted in this NCHRP project and underlying the guidance; (c) a plan for peer-exchange meetings, applications workshops, or other activities following publication of the guidebook to accelerate dissemination and DOT adoption of the guidance; and (d) a PowerPoint presentation usable by NCHRP or others to describe the research and its results.