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22 SECTION 4 Gaps and Opportunities for TransXML 4.1 Criteria for Identifying XML of information increases, and as the complexity and critical- Schema Candidates ity of the information increases (since these factors affect the costs of duplicate data and the impact of errors that can result XML Schemas provide the mechanism for exchanging from duplicate data entry processes). information (data) in order to carry out various transporta- The ability of a candidate XML schema to achieve these tion business functions. Rather than using a data-centric benefits depends on the likelihood that it will be broadly approach to identify TransXML schema opportunities (e.g., accepted and put into practice. This in turn depends on the what are all of the things about a bridge that anyone would ease of getting consensus on a standard data structure, the ever need to know?), the approach taken for this project was business case that can be made for the schema, the incentives to use a process-centric view (e.g., what information about a and disincentives for adoption across the stakeholder com- bridge is required to evaluate load restrictions?). The latter munity, and the level of advocacy and assistance that is pro- question is more focused, and easier to get agreement on. vided to overcome initial barriers to adoption. Not all sets of data that feed transportation business processes Therefore, poor candidates for XML schema have the are good candidates for XML schema. A good candidate for an following characteristics: XML schema is one which has the potential to save time and money, or facilitate improved access to information by There is wide variation in data content across agencies and no mandates or incentives to standardize the data; Allowing information produced in one process to be used Information is shared across a small number of identifiable in other(s); systems or individuals, mechanisms for data transfer are Eliminating the need for information to be entered from already in place and functioning well, and it would be costly scratch (e.g., getting information from GIS systems into to retool systems to read/write another format; CAD systems or using information from road designs to The structure of data content is highly dynamic in nature control GPS-guided excavation equipment); and therefore a schema could be obsolete by the time it is Allowing agencies to analyze the same set of data in several put into practice; different software tools, to easily port data from one tool to The data content is highly detailed and expression in the a new tool, or to share input data across different agencies verbose XML format would result in performance prob- which make use of varying toolsets; lems for the intended applications; and/or Eliminating or reducing the need for agencies to build cus- The data content is so simple or trivial that it is not worth tom applications and interfaces to connect legacy systems; the effort to pursue XML encoding. and/or Enabling reuse of the same information for multiple pur- With these considerations in mind, candidate business poses (e.g., sharing information about a scheduled bridge processes for XML schemas were identified within each of the construction project with the DOT permitting office, main- four business areas identified in Table 1. Then, the highest tenance staff, and traveler information systems). priority candidates were selected based on an assessment of the potential payoff from a technical standpoint, the likeli- The potential benefits of an XML schema increase as the hood of adoption from an institutional/business case per- number of different users of and uses for the same "packet" spective, and the level of effort that would be required to