Synthesis of Information Related to Highway Practices. Topic 48-09. Integration of Roadway Safety Data from State and Local Sources

The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) transportation legislation strongly supports the view that quality data provides the foundation for making important decisions regarding the design, operation, and safety of roadways. MAP-21 emphasizes the importance of safety data for all public roads and requires that states must have safety data systems with the ability to perform safety problem identification and countermeasure analysis. In this context, safety data is defined as roadway, traffic, and crash data. MAP-21 includes requirements for the collection of roadway data based on the Model Inventory of Roadway Elements (MIRE) and use of a linear referencing system. Specifically, MAP-21 requires the collection of a subset of MIRE called MIRE Fundamental Data Elements (MIRE FDEs) that focus on roadway segment, roadway intersection, and roadway ramp data elements. Recently passed transportation legislation called the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act continues the emphasis on high quality safety data to support sound transportation decision making. Currently, many transportation agencies have data management systems and datasets that need to be improved to meet the requirements of MAP-21 and FAST. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Office of Safety’s Roadway Data Extraction Technical Assistance Program (RDETAP) provides assistance to state and local agencies that are implementing efforts to collect MIRE data elements for safety analysis. The RDETAP found that state and local agencies struggle with two critical issues that impede the collection of MIRE data elements: data integration within the agency and integration of data that comes from external (e.g., local) sources. In many cases, state information systems have been designed decades ago, based on equally aged business needs and specifications, and must now be integrated to support the need of advanced safety analysis tools. In addition, state agencies have traditionally limited data collection to the state roadway network. As a result, state transportation agency efforts to integrate internal datasets are usually not sufficient to expand roadway data to local roadways. In order to satisfy the requirement to collect data on all public roadways, state transportation agencies are reaching out to local agencies in an effort to obtain data that is available at the local level and avoid duplication of data collection activities. Facilitating access to and integration of data from a multitude of information systems from sources outside of an agency is a challenge for transportation agencies around the nation. For example, the FHWA Office of Safety published a report in 2012, United States Roadway Safety Data Capabilities Assessment, which analyzed national gaps with regard to state data capability. At the national level, the report found that among 15 critical issues, the most significant gaps exist in terms of data management policies, completeness of the roadway inventory, and (possibly as a result) countermeasure selection. National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Synthesis 486, State Practices for Local Road Safety, published in 2016, came to a similar conclusion. Although activities among state and local agencies to share data more effectively was not a focus of the project, the research found that the development of cost-effective traffic and roadway inventory database systems to facilitate the implementation of a data-driven systemic safety approach remains a future research need. Over the past few years, several efforts have been made to encourage and improve data access and integration between state and local agencies, with varying levels of success. NCHRP Synthesis 458, Roadway Safety Data Interoperability Between Local and State Agencies, published in 2014, found that in terms of interoperability between state and local agencies, agencies have made more progress in terms of integrating crash data than roadway or traffic data. The study found that states striving to obtain the roadway data required by the federal mandate, but noted that only 16 state agencies responded that they receive data from local agencies. Ten of the 16 responding states that receive local data mentioned some level of difficulty to merge and use the data, and only three state agencies have advanced systems that integrate state and local data. A promising concept to address data integration called data exchange broker (DEB) has been recently implemented at the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). The concept aims at the reduction of data exchanges in favor of DEB as a coordination point for data integration between systems. Before implementation of DEB, VDOT maintained hundreds of data exchanges for various business processes, which worked well for expediency but created long-term issues due to large quantities of customized code that needed to be written and maintained. The DEB concept aims to reduce point-to-point interfaces, minimize replication of data, and facilitate real-time data exchange by reducing hard dependencies between systems and using reusable scripts, among other strategies. Several recent NCHRP synthesis projects have provided understanding of data integration issues that should provide a foundation for the research into data integration for roadway inventory data. For example, NCHRP Synthesis 460, Sharing Operations Data among Agencies, published in 2014, provides insight on data sharing issues and best practices for traffic operations data that may apply to some degree to roadway data. Similarly, the 2013 NCRHP Synthesis 446, Use of Advanced Geospatial Data, Tools, Technologies, and Information in Department of Transportation Projects, is not directly related to the issue of roadway data integration but collected information about use geospatial technologies at state transportation agencies and key geospatial technologies and personnel that could be useful for further research into roadway data integration based on linear referencing systems. NCHRP Synthesis project 20-05 Topic 47-05, Data Maintenance Practices, started in 2015 could provide additional input into the issue of roadway data integration. The synthesis aims to gather information about strategic information management practices in terms of data governance, data sharing, and data warehousing. However, given that the synthesis addresses a very broad spectrum of data applications and involves diverse groups including safety, program development, planning, design, and construction, synthesis results will likely not be detailed enough to address the issue of roadway data integration.


  • English


  • Status: Proposed
  • Funding: $45000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 20-05, Topic 48-09

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Zwhalen, Tanya

  • Start Date: 20160509
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • Source Data: RiP Project 40818

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01598986
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 20-05, Topic 48-09
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: May 11 2016 1:00AM