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Suggested Citation:"Summary ." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Improving Findability and Relevance of Transportation Information: Volume I—A Guide for State Transportation Agencies, and Volume II—Background Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24804.
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Suggested Citation:"Summary ." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Improving Findability and Relevance of Transportation Information: Volume I—A Guide for State Transportation Agencies, and Volume II—Background Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24804.
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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.

I-1 S u m m a r y Departments of transportation (DOTs) are information-intensive organizations. Infor- mation is used and produced across all functions of an agency: performance reports, engi- neering standards, project design plans, permits, environmental impact statements, user manuals, project listings, vendor presentations, meeting notes, invoices, responses to public inquiries, and so on. Increasingly, this information is produced and distributed digitally. As the volume and variety of digital information continues to grow, DOT staff expect to be able to access what they need from their desktop or mobile devices by typing a few keywords into a search box. Unfortunately, however, more often than not, conducting an information search within an agency is a frustrating and time-consuming experience. As DOTs transition from primarily paper-based to digital information formats, improved techniques are needed to efficiently find relevant, authoritative information. NCHRP Proj- ect 20-97 was initiated to develop a management framework that DOTs could use to improve findability and relevance of their information. This framework, illustrated in Figure I-1, is explained in Volume I of this research report. As is evident in Figure S-1, improving information findability in a DOT is not a simple exer- cise. It involves coordinated improvements to information management practices, search and navigation capabilities, and use of metadata and standardized terminology for information classification and documentation. Implementation of these improvements can be approached in an incremental fashion in which an agency establishes an architectural vision for findability and then pursues a series of initiatives to move toward that vision. Each initiative would build on the tools, standards, and practices established in prior initiatives. The incremental approach allows agencies to target areas where payoff is expected to be greatest. For example, the agencies that participated in NCHRP Project 20-97 were facing increasing numbers of public information requests, which were consuming substantial staff resources to fulfill. Response to these requests can be made more efficient through improve- ments to information management and search capabilities. A variety of techniques for improving findability have been applied in the private sector, and these techniques are directly applicable to the DOT environment. Of particular note are applications of enterprise search technologies that make it possible for an agency to develop a search capability similar to that available on popular Internet shopping sites. Such a capa- bility could enable employees to easily browse through available information resources and navigate to items of interest. Modern search tools can be customized with agency-specific ter- minology and data to improve the search experience. For example, they can help an employee find information related to an agency vendor; seek information related to a specific district, region, or division; or retrieve project information based on any one of several types and formats of applicable project or contract numbers. Improving Findability and Relevance of Transportation Information

I-2 Improving Findability and relevance of Transportation Information Text analytics software is becoming an increasingly important companion to search tools. This software can be used to develop more powerful search solutions that go beyond sim- ple text matching. It also can partially automate the time-consuming process of classifying information resources into categories usable for search and navigation. Implementing these techniques requires investment in technology and staff resources to manage and maintain these capabilities. Many DOTs already spend considerable information technology (IT) and staff resources on content management systems, Internet and intranet site development, data warehousing and reporting platforms, and specialized applications to support individual business units. On the other hand, few agencies have made significant investments to improve the ability to search within and across different information reposi- tories (web pages, shared file drives, content databases, etc.). Given the potential gains in both agency efficiency and effectiveness, it is likely that the benefits of many findability improve- ments will exceed their costs. A holistic approach to improving access to information (in all of its forms) for agency decision making can leverage available staff resources and provide synergies across different efforts. Figure S-1. Framework for DOT information findability.

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TRB's National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Report 846: Improving Findability and Relevance of Transportation Information (Volumes I and II) provides practices and tools to facilitate on-demand retrieval of useful information stored in project files, libraries, and other agency archives. The report defines a management framework for classification, search, and retrieval of transportation information; documents successful practices for organizing and classifying information that can be adapted to search and retrieval of the diversity of information a transportation agency creates and uses; develops federated or enterprise search procedures that an agency can use to make transportation information available to users, subject to concerns for security and confidentiality; and demonstrates implementation of the management framework, information organization and classification practices, and search procedures. Volumes I and II provide guidance and background information designed to assist agencies to tailor findability procedures and tools to meet their particular needs.

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