The rapid growth of information technologies has changed the way state highway agencies produce, exchange, and manage the project data throughout the life cycle of a transportation project. The adoption of various advanced digital technologies has enabled a large portion of the project data to become available in digital format. However, due to the fragmented nature of highway project delivery processes, data sets are archived and managed separately. The current practices do not allow transportation assets to benefit fully from the growing amount of digital data since data created by project participants are not yet fully linked and available for reuse.
Organizing and maintaining data and information throughout the project development and asset management stages is a challenging task but has a significant impact on the decision-making process. Through seamless exchange of data and information throughout the project life cycle, a significant amount of data recreation can be minimized and high efficiency in business decision making can be achieved. Consistency in data collection, storage, sharing, and updating over time is also the key to improving the effectiveness and efficiency of project delivery and asset management. However, there is a lack of the consistency in data flow in almost all state DOTs. The consistency issue of data flow occurs in a single project, multiple projects (program level), geographical locations, and across time. Achieving seamless exchange of data and information will directly meet the goal of FHWA EDC Program Initiatives 3 and 4, which focuses on better, faster, and smarter ways of delivering transportation projects through integrating the use of information technology and collaboration.
Data standards along with process standards also need to be developed in collaboration with information technology experts, and project participants. For example, Virginia DOT has spent 2 years to establish a database from various stakeholders such as data analysts, ecologists, project participants, and others. As a result, more than 120 documents were reviewed and updated and the structure of metadata was defined. Iowa DOT and Connecticut DOT are currently working to understand data workflows for different types of assets and develop effective data flow processes using various software programs. Cloud-based computing and data warehousing also offer significant opportunities for enhanced collaboration and access to project information. Research is needed to address these issues and provide agencies with guidance on effective practices for managing transportation asset data and information workflows.
The objective of this research is to identify effective practices for managing integrated data and information workflow, including processes for documenting, organizing, exchanging, and managing data throughout the project development process. The research should develop a framework that can be used by transportation agencies to modernize their data management practices at both project and program levels. The framework should include actions for designing and streamlining data and information workflows across entities, phases, locations, project types, and time to help agencies develop common platforms and effective reporting tools supporting data-driven decision making in delivery of transportation projects and programs.
The research may entail tasks such as the following: (1) review and synthesis of relevant literature, research findings, and other appropriate material, inside and outside of the transportation industry; (2) identification of state-of-the-practice benchmarks to characterize transportation agency data organization and management practices; (3) development of a framework that agencies can use in customizing their business practices concerning collection, storage, sharing, and updating data; (4) documentation of a representative set of case-study transportation projects illustrating effective data management practices and issues involved in setting up and maintaining those practices; and (5) development of guidance for agencies to establish, improve, and maintain effective data and information management practices.