The National Academies

NCHRP 20-46 [Final]

Systems Approach to Evaluating Innovations for Integration into Highway Practice

  Project Data
Funds: $124,935
Research Agency: Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Principal Investigator: Roberto Pietroforte and Tahar El-Korchi
Effective Date: 7/1/1998
Completion Date: 6/30/2000

NCHRP Report 442, "Systems Approach to Evaluating Innovations for Integration into Highway Practice," summarizes the results of this project. The report presents a comprehensive approach to evaluating innovations to determine whether they should be integrated into current practice. The approach considers both quantitative information (e.g., costs and environmental impacts) and qualitative information (e.g., training methods and acceptability to interest groups). The report also demonstrates the approach by considering innovations ranging from ground-penetrating radar, to light-emitting diode traffic signals, to partnering. Use of this approach should facilitate the evaluation of innovations and should result in higher-quality decisions. The report will be useful to anyone who is considering adopting an innovation.

Research, both public and private, is usually intended to produce new, beneficial innovations. Ultimately, the success of an innovation will depend on how widely the innovation is used. Adopting an innovation requires a thorough analysis of the resulting risks and opportunities and an understanding of how the innovation affects the entire organization, the other parts of the transportation infrastructure, and the environment. Such analysis can require significant effort, particularly if there is not enough information readily available to assess the various impacts.

Under NCHRP Project 20-46, Worchester Polytechnic Institute identified proven innovation-evaluation methods used in the private and public sectors and evaluated these methods to determine their suitability to the highway environment. The agency then identified and defined the parameters and criteria that highway decisionmakers find critical in choosing whether or not to use innovations. The information was used to develop a systems analysis approach to evaluating innovations for implementation in the highway environment.

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