The National Academies

NCHRP 20-66 [Completed]

Strategic Plan for Transportation Information Management

  Project Data
Funds: $250,000
Research Agency: Transportation Research Board
Effective Date: 1/1/1900
Completion Date: 1/1/1900

In a paper entitled "Access to U.S. Transportation Information Resources," Jerry Baldwin of Minnesota DOT notes that "a large portion of information resources needed by the nation's transportation policy makers and practitioners cannot be efficiently identified, located and retrieved when needed." There have long been concerns among the transportation library community that information services are lacking and inadequate. As the paper points out, "Social, economic and demographic trends are placing increasing demands on existing transportation facilities. Meeting these demands requires maintaining and operating these facilities more efficiently, expanding our transportation options and infrastructure, and researching innovative solutions to transportation problems. As a result, funding for transportation and related research at all levels of government has been increasing for the last several years. Transportation professionals have an increasing need for timely access to information to ensure these expanded funds are wisely used and invested. This requires a more comprehensive, reliable system for identifying, collecting and providing access to transportation information resources." On the other hand, resources for information services have not been increasing; in fact, there have been closures of some significant transportation libraries.

Due in large part to the fragmented and decentralized nature of jurisdictional control over transportation infrastructure, there is no centralized authority or clearly established network with responsibility for acquiring, indexing, abstracting, and providing access to transportation information resources. Except for indexing and abstracting of the materials selected for inclusion in TRIS and ITRD, these tasks have, for the most part, been addressed only by a loosely knit, little recognized group of inadequately funded and under-staffed libraries. The discussion paper concludes that "the vast majority of transportation-related information resources published by U.S. DOT, state DOTs, professional associations, and other publishers are neither collected by nor indexed by any library or information agency."

In recognition of these issues and needs, the AASHTO Research Advisory Committee endorsed a resolution calling for a national strategic plan for transportation information management. The AASHTO Standing Committee on Highways provided $60,000 in funding for an initial scoping study toward a strategic plan (NCHRP Project 20-7, Task 142), and the draft final report of that study is now under review. That study conducted extensive outreach on customer needs, reviewed current practices, identified most pressing issues and problems, outlined options and alternatives, and presented strategies for the development of a national strategic plan.

The objective of the current study is to build on the findings and recommendations of the scoping study and develop the national strategic plan for a transportation information management fund through the mechanism of a TRB Division B Policy Study.

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