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15 Use of common standards is an underpinning of the success enlisted in each of the priority areas. These teams work with of information-sharing efforts. The library community has information specialists from the national or regional TKNs to decades of experience with data standards (e.g., MARC, Dublin craft the initial set of information resources for inclusion in the Core). Standards are continuing to evolve for sharing informa- portal (FAQ, list of resources, contact people) and to review tion resources over the World Wide Web. The transportation these for currency on a quarterly basis. The information man- community has a thesaurus of transportation research terms agement specialist ensures that each relevant resource is (the TRT) that was initially released in 2001 and that has been archived (if needed) and properly cataloged and tagged. steadily improved since then. The TRT provides standardized terminology for indexing information resources in the TRIS Scenario 1: VMT-Based User Fees database as well as in government and university transporta- tion library collections and Web pages. It currently contains Situation: A state DOT policy analyst receives an urgent roughly 10,000 terms and is maintained with part-time staff request from his commissioner to prepare a legislative briefing and voluntary assistance. In contrast, the NAL thesaurus con- on the implications of mileage-based user fees. The briefing tains over 68,500 terms and is maintained by a staff of seven must be completed within 24 hours. indexers (4). The Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) thesaurus contains over 160,000 entry terms. The Unified Medical Lan- TKN Value Provided: The analyst goes to the national guage SystemŽ (UMLS) includes a "Metathesaurus" that transportation portal, selects the "Transportation Finance" incorporates MeSH and several other vocabularies and a topic under "Transportation Topics," and then clicks on "syn- "Semantic Network" that includes 135 semantic types and 54 thesis documents." The first link on the list is a briefing paper relationships across the types. The semantic types are assigned done for the National Surface Transportation Policy and Rev- to concepts in the Metathesaurus. MeSH and the UMLS are enue Study Commission. This paper includes a summary of used for indexing, cataloging, search, and natural language advantages and obstacles, technological approaches, a review processing applications in medicine and related fields. This of recent experience, revenue implications and key policy improves the ability to find information relevant to the issues. It also includes comments from the blue ribbon panel searcher's need. that are indicative of the kinds of questions that the policy ana- The resources provided to the TKN initiative will allow for lyst should anticipate. This gives the policy analyst a "big pic- continued expansion and improvement of the TRT to fill exist- ture" view of the topic. ing gaps in terminology and allow the TRT to evolve into a The second link on the list is a reference to an FHWA- more useful and widely used resource. funded "National Evaluation of a Mileage-Based Road User Charge," a $16.5 million effort including field tests of technol- ogy and user acceptability in six locations (Austin, TX; Balti- Example Scenarios more, MD; Boise, ID; Eastern Iowa; the Research Triangle Four scenarios were developed to illustrate and communi- Region of North Carolina; and San Diego). The policy analyst cate the value of the TKN products and services. Each of these notes that one of these locations is in his home state and makes scenarios illustrates a situation in which a transportation prac- a note to obtain further information on this initiative for inclu- titioner is seeking information. In today's situation--namely, sion in the briefing. without active and coordinated TKNs and a central portal for The policy analyst then finds that there is a Transportation transportation information--these searches likely take con- Finance Community of Practice Web site referenced in the siderably more time and yield less useful outcomes. Standard portal. He goes to this site and sees that a colleague in another Internet searches won't yield the most valuable information state has posted a presentation prepared in response to a simi- resources for the task at hand. Practitioners waste time re- lar request. The policy analyst is able to adapt material from creating material (presentations, training manuals) that others this presentation for his briefing, saving considerable time. have already produced. In the scenarios presented below, the efficiency of users' Scenario 2: Winter Storm searches is enabled through coordination and collaboration After Action Report activities that are taking place "behind the scenes" to provide the information being sought in a convenient and timely man- Scenario: A winter storm brings traffic to a standstill on ner. The scenarios assume that the national TKN coordination a 20-mile section of an Interstate highway. Motorists are function develops and maintains the transportation informa- stranded for hours. Following this incident, the state DOT Sec- tion portal. With input from TKN members and guidance retary requests a review of how to avoid this situation in the from the national TKN steering committee, priority topic areas future, along with a list of action items for immediate imple- are reviewed and revised each year. Teams of topic leaders are mentation. His chief of operations asks her assistant to produce
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16 a briefing on what went wrong and what steps should be taken public-private partnerships (PPP) in the United States and to avoid the situation in the future. internationally and to recommend changes in the state's exist- ing legislation to encourage more competition. Legislative staff TKN Value Provided: The assistant uses the transporta- is charged with preparing a scope for this study and identifying tion information portal to identify colleagues at other agencies national experts to provide assistance. to interview, seek alternative solutions for road weather infor- mation systems (RWIS) capabilities, and identify available TKN Value Provided: Legislative staff use the transporta- resource materials for conducting drills. The portal contains a tion information portal and quickly find the FHWA PPP Web news subscription service, and a search of major newspapers site, which includes a state-by-state analysis of legislation. They brings up several stories of similar incidents in major metro- use the portal's clipping service to review articles about com- politan areas. The researcher looks for more information and petitive bidding practices in Canada, Australia, India, and finds several news clippings, press releases, and a consultant's China. The staffers use the directory to locate relevant contacts report analyzing the agency's response and making recom- in several states to learn more about their procurement prac- mendations to avoid that situation in the future. She reads the tices. They also contact those involved in several projects in key findings, which include the need for pre-event incident Canada. Three of the people contacted are willing to testify response training, lack of policies and procedures for chemical before the committee. additive stockpiles, and inoperable RWIS sites. She and the chief of operations get on the phone with their own RWIS per- Scenario 4: Safety Improvement son and find that they, too, have an issue with reliability of sen- Prioritization Methods sors. They use the "Find a Person" feature to locate the right contact person at appropriate states, and call the contacts to see Scenario: A county traffic engineer with 40 years of expe- how they responded to the recommendations, get a copy of the rience retires, taking with him an encyclopedic knowledge of training materials, and ask how they are addressing the RWIS the road system and its "hotspots," an intuitive feel for how to issue. The assistant then adapts the training materials (only make best use of available safety dollars, and a strong personal minor changes needed) and uses the "Submit Resources" network of contacts in neighboring jurisdictions and other feature to post the adapted training materials to the portal. agencies. His replacement, a young engineer, is looking to She also goes to the "Community of Practice" area, finds the implement a data-driven approach to identifying and priori- NTIMC traffic incident management community of practice, tizing safety improvements. and adds a comment pointing others to the consultant report and the training materials that were posted. TKN Value Provided: The young engineer goes to the transportation information portal to look for models and resources. He identifies a program description and simple Scenario 3: PublicPrivate Partnerships software application for prioritizing countermeasures Scenario: A state-level joint legislative subcommittee is from a similar rural county, which he is able to adapt for his appointed to study use of competitive bidding practices for needs.