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4 The beginnings of this vision are already in place. At the loging in place, and nature of existing services to the user national level, the NTL hosts the Transportation Research Infor- community; mation Services (TRIS) online and underwrites the TLCat union · Achieve a balance between contributors to the TKNs and catalog by providing memberships and seed funding for cata- users of the TKNs; and loging. TLCat allows for access to the holdings of 42 transporta- · Motivate those institutions that have well-established tion libraries, including those of 16 state DOTs. The Midwest and well-funded information management programs to Transportation Knowledge Network (MTKN) was started in participate. 2001 as a pilot program of the NTL. MTKN is currently an inde- pendent nonprofit organization with membership from nine Despite these challenges, many opportunities exist that state DOTs, three universities, and three private companies. demonstrate value, provided the initiative has the right level Eastern and western regional TKNs (the ETKN and WTKN) of organization, funding, and marketing. The Pooled Fund were formed in 2007 and now collectively have 34 members. Study, the MTKN, and the more recent ETKN and WTKN The Transportation Library Connectivity Pooled Fund Study initiatives provide excellent examples of what can be achieved (TPF-5), initiated in 2005 by Wisconsin DOT, involves with relatively modest levels of seed money. They demonstrate 19 state DOTs, one transit agency (Los Angeles MTA), and two that grass roots support for knowledge networks is already University Transportation Centers (Midwest Regional Univer- present. The existing willingness of organizations to pool sity Transportation Center and the University of Minnesota resources indicates that additional investments to further TKN Center for Transportation Studies). This pooled fund study is development will be highly leveraged. Incremental investments providing member agencies with technical assistance (for cata- in building upon the existing transportation information loging materials into WorldCat/TLCat) and a network for shar- infrastructure at the national level (TRIS online, TLCat, ing best practices and resources. It is also conducting marketing TRT)--with an appropriate level of effort to ensure awareness and outreach to expand participation and to communicate the and understanding--can also produce a significant "bang for value of transportation libraries. the buck." In March 2008, the AASHTO Research Advisory Committee Further collaboration and agreements across agencies with (RAC) established a Task Force on Transportation Knowledge respect to tagging and metadata (use of controlled vocabular- Networks. This task force is supporting formation of TKNs, ies) to allow for easier access to both documents and data is enhancing information exchange in the transportation com- another potential big win that could result from TKNs. munity, and serving as an advocate for continued improvement to knowledge-sharing tools and practices. Its goal is to "sup- Research Objectives port the rapid and efficient exchange of information resources through development of strategies and the innovative use of While some steps can be taken within existing resources, ele- technology." ments of the strategy to implement TKNs require a stable Full implementation of the recommendations of TRB Spe- source of funding and a national coordination mechanism cial Report 284 will require that the following challenges be for identifying, collecting, and preserving information. The addressed: authors of TRB Special Report 284 acknowledged that current funding for RITA and NTL is limited, and new funds will need · Articulate and communicate value to key decision makers to be identified in the future to support an enhanced effort. who do not have the "transportation information infra- However, much can be done before then to continue to build structure" on their radar screens, let alone on their lists of momentum for this effort and to begin to put the necessary priorities; pieces into place. · Determine appropriate models of governance and alloca- The objective of NCHRP 20-75 was to develop a business tion of funds; plan for implementing TKNs and to conduct outreach that · Meet needs of a diverse community: academia and practi- complements the efforts already begun by the NTL, MTKN, tioners; federal/state/local/private; multiple modes; ETKN, WTKN, AASHTO RAC TKN Task Force, and the · Forge cooperative relationships across institutions with dis- Pooled Fund Study to build awareness of and support for the tinct agendas and priorities and across institutions that, in TKN concept. The function of the business plan is to articu- some cases, compete with one another for funds or contracts; late the value of making a sustained commitment to investing · Develop collaborative approaches involving institutions in the transportation information infrastructure, define that are in very different stages of readiness for collabora- implementation steps, and identify resource requirements tion with respect to awareness of the need for and benefits and sources. of collaboration, level of understanding of the information The outreach component of this project was undertaken to resources they hold that might be shared, level of cata- ensure that the business plan for TKNs reflects stakeholder