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55 It is worth noting that developing metrics of interest Peer Exchange to the private sector is part of NCFRP Project 3, "Performance Measures for Freight Transportation" (129). This project is In conjunction with the 2009 North American Freight Flows developing measures to gauge the performance of the freight Conference in Irvine, CA (128), the research team organized a transportation system in areas such as capacity, safety, secu- peer exchange to discuss preliminary research findings; request rity, infrastructure condition, congestion, and operations. feedback; and facilitate a dialogue on implementation strate- The measures should support investment, operations, and gies to develop, adopt, and maintain a national freight data policy decisions by a range of stakeholders, both public architecture. and private, and reflect local, regional, national, and global As Figure 8 shows, the peer exchange included an opening perspectives. session, breakout sessions, and a final group discussion session. NCFRP Project 12 Freight Data Architecture Peer Exchange Thursday, September 17, 2009, 1:00 pm 5:00 pm, Beckman Center Background The Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) is conducting research for NCFRP to (a) develop specifications for the content and structure of a freight data architecture that serves the needs of public and private decisionmakers at the national, state, and local levels; (b) identify the value and challenges of the potential architecture; and (c) recommend institutional strategies to develop and maintain the architecture. Decisionmakers must understand the freight transportation system (including use, roles, and limitations) to respond to the growing logistical requirements of businesses and households. This understanding draws on disparate data sources--collected under various definitions, time scales, and geographic levels--such as commodity movements, relationships among sectors of the economy, international trade, traffic operations, supply chains, and infrastructure characteristics and conditions. Several studies and conferences call for a national freight data architecture to link existing datasets and guide new data collection programs. However, none of these calls defines what a data architecture is or how an architecture would be designed, implemented, or evaluated. Peer Exchange Purpose The purpose of the peer exchange is to discuss preliminary research findings; request feedback; facilitate a dialogue on architecture structure and components; and identify implementation strategies and challenges. Preliminary Agenda 1:00 1:15 Welcome, introductions, and peer exchange objectives 1:15 2:00 Presentation of the draft interim report findings 2:00 2:15 Breakout group organization and instructions 2:15 4:00 Breakout groups (depending on the number of attendees) Group A: Freight data sources and data standards Group B: Developing an architecture for freight data Group C: Strategies and challenges for implementation 2:15 2:45 Review research findings 2:45 3:00 Coffee break 3:00 3:30 Identify and prioritize needs 3:30 4:00 Review and identify specification requirements 4:00 4:30 Reports from breakout groups 4:30 4:45 Group discussion and synthesis 4:45 5:00 Closing remarks, next steps, and wrap-up Contact and Additional Information Cesar Quiroga Phone: (210) 731-9938 Email: Juan Carlos Villa Phone: (979) 862-3382 E-mail: Texas Transportation Institute, Texas A&M University System Figure 8. Peer exchange agenda.

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56 The purpose of the opening session was to provide an overview the same time, addressing confidentiality concerns by all of the research project and draft research findings. The purpose stakeholders involved. The data architecture should be of the breakout sessions was to discuss findings and issues in dynamic rather than static, and be able to respond to new more detail. The purpose of the final group discussion session types of data, instead of just working with existing data. was to exchange breakout session findings and summarize Participants also highlighted that a national freight archi- recommendations. tecture would need to work with cross-border data, and In total, 33 participants (representing federal, state, region, have the ability to include Canada and Mexico (i.e., be university, and private sectors) attended the peer exchange. multinational with a North American scope). In addition, Originally, the peer exchange included three breakout groups the national freight data architecture should support crite- (Figure 8). However, breakout Group B was canceled because ria and methods to locate, map, and classify freight trip of low interest from peer exchange participants. As a result, generators, trip receivers, and other factors (e.g., employ- relevant questions and issues for discussion were re-assigned ment, land use, ports, intermodal facilities, and airports). to the other two breakout groups. The freight data architecture would also need to pro- To encourage participation and discussion, attendees mote data harmonization (i.e., although datasets do not received background materials such as relevant research need to be located in the physical database, they need to topic summaries and breakout group agendas and discus- have a common thread and comply with at least a mini- sion objectives. Feedback from peer exchange participants mum set of standards to facilitate data sharing and integra- included recommendations for changes to initial research tion). Data harmonization standards need to include basic findings (which were implemented) as well as a list of issues, elements as spatial referencing metadata, in addition to challenges, and strategies to consider during the implemen- complex elements as performance tracking data. tation of the national freight data architecture, which are Freight data architecture value. The value of a national summarized as follows: freight data architecture would be demonstrated by the ability of stakeholders to make decisions on infrastructure Data at different geographic levels. Participants thought projects and to the extent that business processes and data the list of data sources discussed at the peer exchange was access become more efficient. The value also would be useful, but highlighted the need to include state, regional, demonstrated by the level of support the data architecture and local data sources in the national freight data architec- provides to the implementation of freight performance ture, noting that national-level data are frequently inade- measures. Participants discussed the monetary value of quate for sub-state, local, corridor, and project analyses. the data architecture. Although there was no consensus For example, FAF and CFS regions are not consistent with on how to manage that value, there was discussion about MPO boundaries, making it difficult for MPOs to use the need for consistent benefit/cost analysis standards and national-level data. In addition, CFS is not designed to the need to identify the value of freight datasets, espe- accept supplemental data from sources such as weigh- cially near-real-time commodity data and routing data. in-motion stations and routing permits. Participants con- Participants also recommended the development of met- sidered county-level data collection to be more appropriate rics to determine the effectiveness of implementing the than state-level data collection (although some counties data architecture. are very large). Discussion also included data collection at Freight data architecture ownership. Participants consid- the three-digit zip code level. ered that the ownership and/or leadership role of a national Data at different levels of compatibility. Participants freight data architecture would be best placed at the federal noted that some datasets could be integrated more easily level, in principle, at RITA-BTS. than other datasets. This observation led to a discussion Private-sector data. Participants acknowledged the diffi- about which datasets to include in a data architecture. Inte- culty in obtaining data from the private sector, but recom- grating spatial data (e.g., through conflation) is frequently mended leaving the door open for data-sharing participa- possible if the geographic levels of resolution are compati- tion and collaboration. Participants also recommended ble. However, other datasets are too dissimilar, making data providing a strong message to the private sector that exist- integration considerably more difficult. A critical element ing freight data issues affect both the public and private in integrating datasets is a determination of how feasible it sectors. Participants highlighted the importance of con- is to "integrate" each dataset into the system. tacting the right person at a sufficiently high administra- Freight data architecture vision. Participants agreed tive level for discussions about data access and sharing that a national freight data architecture should provide a (since low-ranking personnel might know the data, but generic framework while providing a methodology to cross- frequently do not have the authority or permission to dis- reference data located within different databases and, at cuss data-sharing options). It may be strategic to involve

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57 trade associations rather than individual firms because or processes, levels of government, and/or economic activ- trade associations can speak for the industry more easily ity. Participants identified four potential scenarios or themes, and can provide leadership for starting a data-sharing rela- including MPOs, the private sector, cross-border trade (e.g., tionship. Inviting the private sector to participate in the Washington State and British Columbia, or Texas and development of the freight data architecture would also Mexico), and multistate freight (e.g., I-95 corridor, Great help all of the parties understand issues of mutual concern Lakes region). Activities and requirements in connection and identify potential opportunities, especially if the result with each of these scenarios or themes would include struc- is lower costs and operational improvements. turing a competition for research teams (each of which Strategies for developing the freight data architecture. would include a university partner, a private-sector partner, Participants agreed with the concept of a scalable freight and a government-level partner) to develop and test com- data architecture that can be implemented in phases (see peting data architecture concepts, making sure to include Chapter 4), and highlighted that implementing a compre- multimodal components in the scenarios and tests, and hensive data architecture at once with no testing of options conduct a follow-up evaluation. The final step would be to prior to making a decision about the correct approach merge the best concepts and practices into one composite would be too risky. Participants also favored the concept of program. developing and comparing several alternative approaches. Other strategies for developing the data architecture Participants thought NCFRP would be a good avenue included adding a communication or marketing component for funding the development of alternative data architec- as well as identifying buy-in and consensus issues, compli- ture concepts and a prototype. Participants indicated the ance options, and an administration-level champion. Addi- request for proposals should outline clear objectives, while tional ideas discussed included developing a "showcase" to leaving the definition of approaches to the research team(s) bring attention to the issue of freight data and developing a selected. An idea discussed was to develop the data archi- roadmap for collaboration between the public sector and the tecture around scenarios or themes, such as business areas private sector for more effective data collection.