The National Academies

NCHRP 20-39(2) [Final]

Improved Transportation Research-In-Progress Data System

  Project Data
Funds: $484,808
Research Agency: Texas A&M Research Foundation
Principal Investigator: Kassandra Agee-Letton
Effective Date: 3/28/2000
Completion Date: 12/31/2011

Objective: The first objective of this project was to develop a new transportation research-in-progress data management system that facilitates management of the data by state DOTs. The secondary objective was to develop a web site to support the transportation pooled fund research project process.

Status: The first objective is complete and the design has been incorporated into the new TRIS. It is available at http://rip.trb.org/.

The current edition of the pooled fund web site is active at http://www.pooledfund.org/. This site was developed by NCHRP Project 20-82, Next Generation Transportation Pooled Fund (TPF) Website, building upon the work done in this project.

Report Availability: The system design reports are available for loan from the NCHRP.

Background: The increase in State Planning and Research funds in the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) has heightened interest in a better system for collecting and distributing information on transportation research in progress (RIP). There are currently about 4,000 RIP records stored in the Transportation Research Information Services (TRIS) database managed by the Transportation Research Board (TRB). They are available at http://www3.nas.edu/rips/. The electronic mechanism for state transportation agencies to input and update these records is cumbersome, and only a few states have been able to make the system work. An improved RIP data management system is needed.

The system should be designed, as much as is practical, to allow state departments of transportation (DOTs) and other authorized research sponsors to modify and delete their project information from the RIP data management system and see the results on the web immediately. Several state DOTs have their own databases for tracking and reporting on their research projects; the RIP data management system should include a generic format so that state DOTs can upload and download information on their projects from the RIP data management system to their own databases. The RIP data management system should be able to export records to TRIS.
The process for managing pooled-fund studies is being re-engineered to improve its effectiveness and efficiency (additional information is available at http://www.tfhrc.gov/site/active.htm). The re-engineered process includes a web site for soliciting, monitoring, and reporting on progress and results of studies. The Federal Highway Administration asked the panel for this project to consider developing the pooled fund web site as part of this project.

Tasks: Accomplishment of the project objective will require the following tasks.

Phase I (Research in Progress Development): (1) Submit, within 3 months, a complete set of system requirements that describe in detail the required functionality and performance requirements of the system. The requirements should describe the full characteristics of the system, from initial design through operation and maintenance. Develop criteria for user, operator, and maintainer documentation. Develop a testing and acceptance plan for Task 3 that assures that critical system functions are tested and clearly states the responsibilities for the contractor and testers. Develop a estimated budget for the Phase II system maintenance and operation. The contractor will meet with the panel to validate the Task 1 products before further work proceeds. (2) Within 3 months of approval of the Task 1 documents by NCHRP, develop the system, including on-line help and documentation, in conformance with the approved requirements. Import existing RIP records into the system. These records will be provided in a suitable electronic format. (3) Test the system for a period of 3 months, verifying that performance criteria, functional requirements, and documentation requirements are met and that the system can be readily maintained. The NCHRP panel members should be the principal testers, but others should be included to ensure that the system works with a variety of hardware and software platforms. Submit the test results; complete design, maintenance, and operational documentation; and provide the complete system in a suitable form to NCHRP.

Phase II: (4) The contractor will host, maintain, and operate the system for 1 year after system development is complete.

Phase III (Pooled Fund Process): (5) Develop user and system requirements for the web site described in the re-engineered pooled fund study process. Develop conceptual design alternatives to meet the requirements, and estimate the costs for development and support. Provide a working paper on this task to the panel for its consideration in determining the next steps. (6) Develop a web site to facilitate communication among all parties and consolidate, store, and provide appropriate access to all relevant information involved in the re-engineered Transportation Pooled Fund (TPF) Program. Visitors to the public portion of the site will be able to browse and search records of both proposed and ongoing TPF studies and register to be notified of new solicitations. Authorized users will be able to propose a study, commit funds to a study, view details about the progress of a solicitation, and view documents related to studies in progress.  (7) Operate and support the TPF website.

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