Developing National PM Data Strategies to Address Data Gaps, Standards, and Quality

Status: Pending    
Potential Funding Sources: FHWA / NCHRP 20-24    
Timeframe: Year 1
Research Period: 24 months
Funding Estimate: $300,000
Potential Sponsors:


The availability and cost of obtaining meaningful, consistent, timely and accurate data is a limiting factor for transportation agencies seeking to strengthen their use of performance management. Data are needed both to measure performance indicators of interest as well as to understand how performance trends are impacted by exogenous factors outside of agency control.

Research Objectives

The objective of this research is to identify common data gaps across agencies seeking to enhance performance management capabilities, and to develop a set of national strategies for filling these gaps. National strategies would potentially achieve:
• A more efficient approach to meeting common performance management data needs,
• A more consistent and sustainable data collection and management approach than would be possible from individual uncoordinated agency efforts

Proposed Research

Possible tasks to be included are:
• Identify common gaps in data to support performance management
• Conduct a data summit to discuss possible national strategies for filling these gaps
• Develop a national data plan incorporating the most promising strategies – consider the following for each strategy:
– Business case for a national approach
– Use cases – how would agencies make use of the data
– Data access/distribution methods
– Opportunities to piggyback on existing national, regional and state data programs
– Opportunities to leverage commercial data sources
– Data collection approach – e.g. centralized collection or decentralized with consistent data specifications, formats and quality assurance standards
– Data updating approach
– Oversight and stewardship options

Potential Benefits

A stronger national approach to developing data collection and management strategies and standards for performance management could be beneficial in several respects:
1. Provide a more economical way to address common data gaps across agencies
2. Save effort required for each agency to develop its own data requirements in support of performance management
3. Provide the impetus for pooling resources to provide consistent national data sources that multiple agencies could use
4. Support consistency in measurement and analysis practices across agencies, which would enable aggregation of data across agencies, benchmarking and development of common analysis tools

Implementation and Follow-on Activities

• Seek endorsement and sponsorship for plan elements
• Develop implementation roadmap
• Initiate individual implementation projects

Related Research

The national data plan should consider several existing national data programs such as the National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) and the National Performance Management Research Data Set (NPMRDS).
It should also utilize the rich body of knowledge related to approaches to data collection and management for performance measurement and monitoring including:
• TRB Special Report 304, “How We Travel” – defines a sustainable approach to national travel data monitoring
• NCHRP Project 20-24(37)G Technical Guidance for Deploying National Level Performance Measurements
• University Transportation Research Center No: 49111-25-23 Data Driven Performance Measures for Effective Management of Complex Transportation Networks
• SHRP 2 L02 Establishing Monitoring Programs for Mobility and Travel Time Reliability
• WA-RD 748.1 / TNW 2010-02 Developing a GPS-Based Truck Freight Performance Measure Platform