Statewide Transportation Data and Information Systems
Many factors are involved in highway data collection. For example, safety must be considered as field personnel collect data in the presence of the traveling public. There are also a variety of physical characteristics that must be observed over a large expanse of highways. In an attempt to capture more roadway features in one pass, Kentucky has proposed spreading the use of video logging throughout its transportation agency, as follows:
Pavement conditions, Division of Operations;
Roadway features inventory, Division of Operations;
Traffic signs and signals inventory, Division of Traffic;
Bridge maintenance system, Division of Operations;
Roadway characteristics inventory, Division of Planning;
“Rideability” index, Division of Operations;
Passing zones, (possibly), Division of Operations; and
Digital mapping references on data features, enterprise-wide.
In addition to better descriptive data, videotaped record and digital photographs could provide visual inspection capabilities in the office. Using a computer, it is possible to simulate driving on every highway throughout Kentucky. Digital photographs for geographic information systems (GIS) will enhance digital mapping analysis efforts. In summary, new technologies provide the following benefits:
An asset management tool;
Safer data collection methods;
In-office data collection;
An enhanced GIS;
In-office view of all state highways; and
One enterprise-wide database.
Additional future data issues identified by Kentucky include:
1. Performance measures. Training and retraining is essential to this area. The mobile work force creates an employee retention problem. Changing technologies make training critical to any new data initiative. This training needs to be updated continuously.
2. Intelligent transportation systems (ITS) data integration. ITS planning should become a standard part of all highway projects, similar to right of way and other line item aspects of project development. ITS will require serious quality control efforts to handle the enormous amount of data generated. Released data probably should have a standard disclaimer about its accuracy. Also at issue is what piece of data represents the average, and who is responsible for the data. For example, if a newspaper requests information about data at a given point, what should be used? A random day, perhaps?
3. Data access. Privacy issues already emerging with truck data will continue to arise. TRB and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) need to address this issue aggressively, to make the fullest use of the available technology. For example, transponders could be used universally on truck fleets; however, there is no political will to mandate it.