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15 and query datasets. The data warehouse would include meta- Clearly, the range of data needs to support the national data for the transformed datasets and pre-processed sum- freight policy framework is quite wide and covers a variety of mary tables. As in the case of the framework proposed in freight-related business processes, including trade and supply TRB's Special Report 276, the focus of the NCHRP Project 8-36 chain; planning, design, construction, operations, and main- Task 79 freight data exchange network was commodity tenance of freight transportation networks; environmental movement data. and energy impacts; safety; and security. As part of the Upper Midwest Freight Corridor Study, which covered several upper Midwest states as well the provinces of Ontario and Manitoba in Canada, researchers Research Objectives developed a system called Midwest FreightView that enables The overarching theme behind NCFRP Project 12 was the users to connect remotely to freight datasets located at the need for accurate, comprehensive, timely freight transporta- University of Toledo (7). The system includes a viewer that tion data at different levels, as well as the need for a holistic depicts features such as highways, rail lines, ports, and inter- approach to freight transportation data. More specifically, modal terminals. The system contains datasets from agencies NCFRP 12 was set up to identify specifications for a national at the federal, state (or provincial), and regional levels. In addi- freight data architecture that would facilitate freight-related tion, the database contains regional economic data, including statistical and economic analyses; support the decisionmak- employment figures, number and locations of establishments, ing process by public and private stakeholders at the national, and types of commodities produced within each portion of state, regional, and local levels; and enable the acquisition and the region. maintenance of critical data needed to identify freight-related The need for reliable freight transportation data also has transportation needs. Specific NCFRP Project 12 objectives been identified in the U.S. DOT's proposed Framework for included the following: a National Freight Policy, which includes the following objectives (8): · Develop specifications for content and structure of a national freight data architecture that serves the needs of public and · Objective 1: Improve the operations of the existing freight private decisionmakers at the national, state, regional, and transportation system. local levels; · Objective 2: Add physical capacity to the freight transporta- · Identify the value and challenges of the potential data archi- tion system in places where investment makes economic tecture; and sense. · Specify institutional strategies to develop and maintain the · Objective 3: Better align all costs and benefits among par- ties affected by the freight system to improve productivity. data architecture. · Objective 4: Reduce or remove statutory, regulatory, and institutional barriers to improved freight transportation In providing a frame of reference for the rest of this report, performance. it is worth noting that the scope of NCFRP Project 12 was · Objective 5: Proactively identify and address emerging to develop requirements and specifications for a national transportation needs. freight data architecture, not to develop the data architec- · Objective 6: Maximize the safety and security of the freight ture (which would be a logical next step after identifying transportation system. those requirements and specifications). In addition, although · Objective 7: Mitigate and better manage the environ- Chapter 4 includes a formal definition and scope for a national mental, health, energy, and community impacts of freight freight data architecture, it may be useful at this point to transportation. clarify what is, and what is not, a data architecture. In gen- eral, a data architecture can be defined as the manner and Each objective, strategy, and tactic in the freight policy process used to organize and integrate data components. framework requires collecting, maintaining, and using reli- This definition is similar to others found in the literature. able data. Recognizing this need, the framework includes the It follows that a data architecture is not a database (databases following strategies to address freight data needs: may be built based on data architectures); a data model, a data standard, a specification, or a framework (these elements · Strategy 4.4: Actively engage and support the establishment could be components of a data architecture); a system archi- of international standards to facilitate freight movement. tecture (a system architecture could use data architecture · Strategy 5.1: Develop data and analytical capacity for mak- components); a simulation or optimization model; or an ing future investment decisions. institutional program.
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16 The remainder of this report summarizes the research find- · Chapter 4 provides an outline and draft requirements for ings as follows: a national freight data architecture, as well as challenges and strategies related to the implementation of a national · Chapter 2 includes a discussion of systems, databases, and freight data architecture; and architectures that might be used as a potential reference for · Chapter 5 includes relevant conclusions and recommen- the development of a national freight data architecture; dations. · Chapter 3 includes a summary of data needs and the results · Appendix A of the contractor's final report, available on of online questionnaires and subsequent interviews with the project webpage, provides freight transportation data freight stakeholders; sources.