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8 CHAPTER 2 SELECTION OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY TOOLS FOR DEVELOPMENT INTRODUCTION SECOND SHPO AND STATE DOT SURVEY As noted in Chapter 1, the NCHRP panel recommended In order to develop realistic hardware requirements and developing and testing five prototype tools that would improve system architectures for Tools 24 to be reviewed by the IT the process of evaluating cultural resource significance: focus group, URS contacted 10 states from the original Phase 1 survey by telephone and/or e-mail. Building upon the 1. A Historic Context Development Tool (which later was Phase 1 study, a new questionnaire was developed, which fully developed as the HPST); began by asking questions such as "If IT systems are devel- 2. A Historic Significance Attribute Table for organizing oped, will you actually use them? If not, what would it take and documenting information used to make decisions to induce you to use such a system or systems?" In addition, on resource significance; basic information about the hardware and software available 3. An MS Access database application that standardizes to the states was collected. URS developed a "Business Case resource inventory data for use in evaluating resource sig- for Developing Four Prototype Computer Applications for nificance (which later was fully developed as the HPST); Streamlining the Resource Evaluation Process" (Business 4. A common electronic format that would replace exist- Case) using, in part, the results of this second survey. The ing historic contexts, National Register nomination Business Case (Appendix A) included descriptions of tool forms, and Consensus of Eligibility documents (which system architecture, testing plans, and other details. The later was fully developed as ECREL); and Business Case, which included the results of this second sur- 5. ESRI's Geography Network as the mechanism for vey, was sent to the focus group prior to its meeting. making the above IT prototypes accessible to potential Of the 10 states contacted, only 5 agreed to participate in users across the country. the second survey (Wisconsin, North Carolina, New Hamp- shire, New York, and Nevada). The Wisconsin SHPO was The first prototype tool that the NCHRP panel directed about to place its resource inventory on-line and had no prob- URS to develop was the Historic Context Development Tool lems with making decisions on resource significance. Thus, (Tool 1 above). The purpose of this tool was to provide a the proposed IT tools were seen as unnecessary. The New method by which consistent electronic versions of historic Hampshire DOT also felt that the proposed IT tools would not context documents could be generated. The tool was intended be useful for improving its resource significance evaluations. to be a stand-alone system that any user could install on his The North Carolina SHPO, the Nevada SHPO, and New York or her desktop computer and use without additional training. DOT were more positive about the use of these IT tools. URS developed the prototype tool using MS Access and All of the states involved in this second survey noted that Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). The latter application DOTs and SHPOs must work together if the use of any IT is a run-time version of MS Access, so that the user does not tool is to be successful. The states in the second survey also need to have MS Access installed on his or her computer. A identified money as a key issue, asking the question "Who simple user's guide for this tool was also created. would pay for the development and maintenance of these URS was asked by the NCHRP panel to convene a meeting tools?" These agencies all have budget difficulties. of IT professionals to serve as a focus group. This focus group When queried about their databases (the majority of which would evaluate whether the other four prototypes (i.e., the were new), the states said they mostly used MS Access, with prototypes for Tools 24) effectively improved decision mak- some moving to more robust programs, such as Oracle. If ing (and therefore whether the prototypes should be advanced they had GIS, they all used ESRI products. to the full development phase). URS would then present the The following is a summary of the states' opinions on the IT specialists' recommendations to the NCHRP panel. The proposed IT solutions: following is a discussion of the IT specialist focus group meet- ing, held in Washington, D.C., on March 26, 2004, where the A Historic Significance Attribute Table. The states four remaining prototypes were evaluated. had mixed responses to this tool. One state noted that