The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and its member departments have traditionally developed information systems supported by computer software and equipment on a bottom-up, project-by-project basis. However, as systems grow in this manner, the ability to share data and logically integrate systems becomes seriously constrained, and modifications are expensive. Furthermore, development of information systems in this bottom-up approach has been carried out in the absence of a top-down, information-systems master plan, i.e., a business systems plan.
In the past, highway engineering has been the principal focus of information systems. However, the management of information has increased in complexity, now that many state transportation departments are becoming truly multimodal, and can directly affect a department's organizational structure and influence the tools necessary for operating the department "business areas." Although an in-depth analysis of the management of information in all business areas was desirable, resources available to this project were limited. Therefore, because the traditional emphasis has been on highways, and this is the most immediate need to AASHTO, the research concentrated primarily on the highway engineering system (HES) component of state transportation departments.
A business systems plan for the HES would show where AASHTO's in-house information-systems efforts could complement member department's information-systems efforts and, thus, avoid duplicative, expensive development activities. At the same time the plan would be generic and flexible, so that it could be easily modified to meet particular agency needs and changing conditions, and serve as an example for other transportation department business areas or modal systems.
The purpose of the research project was to analyze the business processes and related information needs that support the planning, programming, and design portions of highway project development. The objective was to use principles of information engineering to describe the interrelationships of the engineering processes and to describe a high level model of the data required. States would then be able to use the results of this research as a foundation for preparing their system plans and by AASHTO in its planning for jointly developed systems.
Research is complete. The reports have been turned over to the contractor for a follow-on project, Project 20-24(6)C.