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Suggested Citation:"Summary ." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2015. Data to Support Transportation Agency Business Needs: A Self-Assessment Guide. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23463.
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Suggested Citation:"Summary ." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2015. Data to Support Transportation Agency Business Needs: A Self-Assessment Guide. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23463.
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Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

1 Data Is an Essential Transportation Agency Asset Transportation agencies are increasingly data-intensive organizations. Data is used inter- nally to drive critical agency decisions about how best to invest available resources to build, operate, and maintain safe, efficient, and sustainable transportation systems. Data about facilities, services, system performance, and expenditures are shared to provide necessary public accountability and meet agency reporting obligations. Real-time data sources have emerged in recent years that provide valuable situational awareness to agency maintenance and operations staff and enable agencies to provide traveler information services that result in more convenient and efficient travel choices. Data Is Expensive to Collect and Maintain Collecting, processing, analyzing, reporting, and sharing the varied types of data in a transportation agency require considerable resources—for computer hardware and soft- ware, staff time, and vendor support. Data sources, data management best practices, and information technologies are constantly evolving. Agencies can improve decision making by collecting or acquiring new data and by improving data management, analysis, and visual- ization capabilities. However, many of these improvements require technology investments and specialized staff skills which are in high demand. A Systematic and Objective Approach for Assessing Transportation Agency Data Is Needed Transportation agencies need to make prudent investments in data to meet an increas- ingly complex set of internal and external needs. Even where raw data are available, many agencies find themselves to be “data rich, but information poor.” This Guide shows how agencies can systematically assess how well the data they have is working for them. Based on this assessment, agencies can identify steps to better align data with agency business needs and make more effective use of available resources for data collection and management. The Guide recognizes agency resource limitations and the need to look objectively at the value added by existing and potential data resources. The intent of the assessment process is not to develop a long wish list of additional data to collect, but to ensure that investments in data are paying off. S U M M A R Y Data to Support Transportation Agency Business Needs: A Self-Assessment Guide

2 Data to Support Transportation Agency Business Needs: A Self-Assessment Guide Assessment Approach Is Flexible and Scalable The approach described in this Guide is intentionally broad and flexible. It can be used to examine the value being added by data from a business user perspective—and the short- comings in data availability, quality, and usability that are limiting this value. The Guide’s approach can also be used to assess the maturity of data management processes used at different levels and functional areas of the agency. Combining perspectives of data users and data managers can provide powerful insights into an agency’s critical data improve- ment needs. These insights can be used to identify immediate specific actions to better meet agency needs for data, as well as more systemic improvements to strengthen the agency’s foundational process for data management. The assessment can be scaled to focus on a limited set of data categories or business areas. Staff Time Is Required but Worth the Investment Agencies can conduct the self-assessment process using the accompanying tools and fol- lowing the step-by-step instructions in this Guide. To ensure a productive assessment pro- cess, the Guide recommends that an agency (1) designate a champion to drive the activities and (2) enlist the services of suitable in-house facilitators to conduct assessment workshops. Each assessment workshop involves participation from a group of 5 to 10 staff members rep- resenting a range of perspectives. The Guide also recommends that agencies designate a plan- ning team (which can be an existing management group) to provide direction for the effort. The assessment process requires time and effort to obtain a balanced view of data needs and existing processes. However, for most agencies this will be time well spent. Results of the process can help agencies (1) determine additional data-related resource and improvement priorities and (2) set the stage for more effective longer term data management. Added ben- efits include the relationship building and increased understanding of data uses, needs and management practices that result from dialog among managers, data users, data providers, information technology specialists, and others who participate in the assessment process. Pay Off: Continuing Improvement to Data Value In addition to providing a structure for conducting a data self-assessment, the Guide also includes a process that agencies can use to develop and monitor a coordinated plan for continuing data improvements. This process can be followed to ensure that the assessment process yields concrete results for the agency—in the form of better quality, highly accessible and useful data contributing to better agency decision making.

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TRB’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Report 814: Data to Support Transportation Agency Business Needs: A Self-Assessment Guide provides methods to evaluate and improve the value of their data for decision making and their data-management practices.

NCHRP Web-Only Document 214: Transportation Agency Self-Assessment of Data to Support Business Needs: Final Research Report describes the research process and methods used to develop NCHRP Report 814.

The following documents supplement the project and are available online:

This supplemental information is offered as is, without warranty or promise of support of any kind either expressed or implied. Under no circumstance will the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine or the Transportation Research Board (collectively "TRB") be liable for any loss or damage caused by the installation or operation of this product. TRB makes no representation or warranty of any kind, expressed or implied, in fact or in law, including without limitation, the warranty of merchantability or the warranty of fitness for a particular purpose, and shall not in any case be liable for any consequential or special damages.

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