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34 · Typical production schedules for each tool, Another cost reduction approach to consider is to inte- · Costs associated with each tool, and grate multiple functionalities within CADD applications. · Considerations for creating a budget. Currently, most visual technicians model with one software application and render the model in another. The method Case studies could be used as the basis for the guideline. leads to inefficiencies that, in turn, lead to longer production Project managers and other decision makers need to be able times. Therefore, eliminating the need to use multiple appli- to associate themselves with the guidelines to fully under- cations could improve productivity and reduce costs. stand them. Costs can be further reduced if the design is initially done Writing the national standards and guidelines will be dif- in 3-D. Creating renderings can be a minimal process if 3-D ficult, and many issues need to be addressed. How detailed elements are already in place during the design process. do the standards need to be? What group or organization will CADD can also easily produce traditional plans and sections be responsible for drafting these standards? How should the from a 3-D model. standards address the many software applications and output formats that can be used for visualization? How can the stan- Another way to reduce costs is for the vendors to decrease dards be flexible enough to apply to the varying policies and the price of visualization applications. Over the past 10 years, procedures at each transportation agency? software applications specifically designed for visualization have dramatically decreased in cost. However, despite the FUNDING AND APPROVALS reductions in cost, software for visualization is still more costly than software for traditional CADD applications. Without proper standards and guidelines for visualization, Many interviewees concluded that vendors need to continue funding and approvals will continue to be a challenging task. to drive down these costs if transportation agencies are to The transportation agencies participating in this synthesis do implement the visualization software. not have specific budgets for visualization, making it difficult to track expenses. A costbenefit analysis for visualization cannot be properly conducted without having official visual- AWARENESS OF AND ACCESS TO INFORMATIONAL RESOURCES ization budgets to measure. Most expenses are included within specific project budgets or are part of overall budgets for This synthesis study has revealed that most transportation departments, such as IT departments, or from disciplines, such agencies are isolated from one another concerning issues as landscape architecture. Some agencies, such as UDOT, are on visualization. This isolation has helped to inhibit the actually incorporating visualization expenses into the overall advancement of the technology. Most research and develop- project budget. Although this approach provides a more pro- ment activities are self-implemented and are limited in their ductive mechanism to obtain approvals and funding, it makes execution, and are primarily done without conferring with the budgetary process difficult to track. Frequently, the disci- other transportation agencies. Many interviewees expressed pline manager or overall project manager is in charge of a desire to have better awareness of societies and organiza- approving visualization products and services. tions that promote the use of visualization. Hundreds of infor- mative user groups and organizations deal with the subject of IMPROVED VISUALIZATION TOOLS AND COSTS visualization. Determining which group is best for an agency depends on the personnel within that organization. Many of Another key challenge expressed by project managers inter- these organizations are affiliated with a specific application viewed for this synthesis is the cost of using visualization. For and may be interested in learning about only that application. example, some applications, such as computer animation, Two of the leading transportation-related groups that focus on require long production times. These production times depend visualization are the TRB Visualization in Transportation on variables such as the 3-D modeling required and the length Task Force (ABJ95T) and the AASHTO Taskforce on Envi- (in time) of animation needed. Visualization specialists con- ronmental Design. Both of these groups provide direction and veyed a concern that better visualization applications are resources for the use of visualization. However, these groups needed to help reduce some of these overhead costs. These are attended by a finite group of people. One reason for applications need to make using visual tools easier, provide reduced participation in these groups is travel restrictions better functionality, and increase overall productivity. placed on transportation agency employees. Agencies such as Caltrans expressed the need for alternative outreach methods, Automation is one available tool to reduce costs by such as web-casting meetings. increasing the accuracy and speed with which 3-D models are created. Some software applications already have the ability Better informational access will result in greater efficien- to automatically call out design interferences during design cies for research and development, thereby assisting in the and drafting; however, this ability should be added to more process of creating standards and guidelines for visual tech- applications. nologies within transportation agencies.