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61 National Freight Data in which data elements are organized and integrated for all Architecture Definition freight transportation-related applications or business pro- cesses at the national, state, regional, and local levels. Based on the analysis in the previous section, a generic def- inition for a national freight data architecture is as follows: For any of these implementation options, the data archi- tecture would include the necessary set of tools that describe The national freight data architecture is the manner in which data elements are organized and integrated for freight related functions or roles, components where those roles reside transportation-related applications or business processes. The or apply, and data flows that connect roles and components. data architecture includes the necessary set of tools that describe related functions or roles, components where those roles reside or apply, and data flows that connect roles and components at National Freight Data different domain and aggregation levels. Architecture Value Increasing the focus, content, and scope of the national In practice, several alternative implementation options freight data architecture has the potential to increase the total may be possible depending on factors such as the following: benefit derived from its implementation (Figure 9a). However, the rate of growth of the total benefit would probably decrease What is the freight community really interested in pursuing? with the level of implementation (and even become negative at What is the level of funding that different stakeholders some point). At the same time, the complexity and costs asso- (both public and private) are willing to invest to support ciated with the implementation of the national freight data ar- that effort? chitecture would be likely to increase with the level of imple- Where is the source of the funding and what are the require- mentation (Figure 9b). The value of the national freight data ments and steps to secure it? architecture is a function of both total benefit and cost and What benefits would different stakeholders derive? complexity associated with its implementation. As Figure 9c What is the implementation horizon? shows, it is quite likely that the maximum net value would take place at some intermediate level of implementation. There are no simple answers to these questions. Although These observations suggest a scalable implementation path this report lays out a few alternative implementation options in which the national freight data architecture starts with one and discusses issues such as value, challenges, and strategies application at one or two levels of decisionmaking and then to assist with the discussion, ultimately it is up to the freight adds applications and levels of decisionmaking as needed or community to decide what option to implement (and how). according to a predetermined implementation plan until, Some alternative implementation options follow: eventually, reaching the maximum net value. Unfortunately, data about benefits, costs, or complexity for each level of im- Single-application approach. In this case, the national plementation that might enable a quantifiable determination freight data architecture would become the manner in of value are currently not available. Conducting appropriate which data elements are organized and integrated for a benefit-cost analyses to obtain this type of information is a specific freight application or business process at the na- necessary activity that needs to occur both at the beginning tional level (e.g., commodity flows). and at different phases of implementation of the national Intermediate approaches (depending on the number of freight data architecture. applications). In this case, the national freight data archi- From the documentation and information gathered in pre- tecture would become the manner in which data elements vious chapters, the research team identified the following list are organized and integrated for a specific set of applica- of benefits that, together, provide a statement of value for the tions at the national, state, regional, and local levels. A large national freight data architecture: number of intermediate approaches is possible, depending on the business processes and geographic levels included. Better understanding of the different business processes For example, an intermediate implementation approach that affect freight transportation at different levels of cov- could include commodity flows at the national, state, and erage and resolution; regional levels. Another, more encompassing, intermediate Better understanding of the supply chain, which should implementation approach could include commodity flows, help transportation planners to identify strategies for im- safety, and pavement impacts at the national, state, regional, proving freight transportation infrastructure; and local levels. Better understanding of the role that different public- Holistic, all-encompassing approach. In this case, the na- sector and private-sector stakeholders play in freight tional freight data architecture would become the manner transportation;