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3 Much work has been done to bring information about technology research and development to practitioners so that technologies can be implemented in support of transportation agenciesâ missions. These include â¢ The Cooperative Research Programsâ synthesis reports series on the state of practice in many areas, including transportation3; â¢ NCHRP and AASHTO domestic and international scans of transportation innovations; and â¢ AASHTOâs Technology Implementation Group, which highlights valuable, application-ready but little-used innovations4; These and other efforts help to increase practitionersâ aware- ness and understanding of available technologies and to facili- tate adoption and implementation of these technologies. 5 Yet, agencies continue to face technical, non-technical, and meth- odological challenges to adopting beneficial technologies. The research team identified many of these challenges through case studies and a literature review and highlights the main conclusions in the first two sections of this chapter. A central finding is that the most prevalent and significant bar- riers to expediting technology adoption in transportation lie in realms other than the strictly technical. The barriers emerge from patterns for allocating financial assets, the position of transportation agencies as organizations in a larger govern- mental and political environment, how such agencies oper- ate internally as hierarchies, and conflicts between desirable goals. Beyond this, there seems to be a fundamental problem of information gathering, framing that information in forms relevant to decision making within the agencies, and transmit- ting it through levels and departments as well as to the other government bodies with which these agencies must interact. The final section of this chapter presents seven key principles on which STREAM is based: 1. Assess and compare technologies in relation to agency goals; 2. Derive transportation agency technology needs on the basis of specific functions that require support; 3. Use multiple metrics to assess and compare technologies with respect to the full range of agency goals; 4. Identify and compare existing and prospective technolo- gies by effect on functional performance, rather than by technology type; 5. Include current knowledge about existing and prospective technologies within a common framework for assessment, tracking, and decision; 6. Make the assessment process less disruptive and more integral to regular agency functions; and 7. Provide sufficient information to understand the degree of uncertainty and enable flexible operation under evolv- ing circumstances. Broad Technology Assessment, Adoption, and Implementation Barriers Transportation agencies face many challenges in their efforts to assess, adopt, and implement technologies. The literature shows that technological barriers constitute only a small part of the potential obstacles. Much more formidable barriers arise from the context in which agencies operate.6 C h a p t e r 2 Foundations of STREAM 3 See http://www.trb.org/Publications/PubsNCHRPSynthesisReports.aspx 4 See http://tig.transportation.org/Pages/default.aspx 5 The Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (AMPO), FHWA, FTA, individual transportation agencies, and several other public institutions also fund and conduct research on transportation technology. 6 Deakin, Elizabeth. Mainstreaming Intelligent Transportation Systems: Findings from a Survey of California Leaders, UC Transportation Center Paper no. 791, 2006, and Deakin, Elizabeth, Karen Trapenberg Frick, and Alexander Skabardonis, âIntelligent Transport Systems: Linking Technology and Transport Policy to Help Steer the Future,â Access, Spring 2009.
4The research team commissioned case studies of specific instances of technology assessment and adoption by transpor- tation agencies to assess a wide range of barriers in greater depth, document lessons learned, and articulate strategies that agencies might consider to overcome barriers. The selected case studies focus on four technology applications: â¢ ITS, â¢ Pavement technology and infrastructure, â¢ Context-sensitive solution (CSS) design7, and â¢ Integrated transportation-land use modeling. These examples were selected because they span a range of technology disciplines, involve different divisions within transportation agencies, are of varying familiarity to agency personnel, and are at different stages of technological maturity. Collectively, they enabled the research team to delve into the array of potential barriers agencies face. The actual case studies were carried out by Dr. Elizabeth Deakin and Karen Trapenberg Frick of the University of California Transportation Research Center. For each case study, Deakin and Frick reviewed the lit- erature and interviewed researchers and analysts, transporta- tion agency staff, elected officials, and those in the private sector. A synthesis of the four case studies suggests a set of common barriers. (Appendix A presents the full case studies.) This set is neither exhaustive nor conclusive, but highlights the range of technological and institutional challenges with which agencies contend in their efforts to respond to technology. Some barriers to technology assessment and adoption have to do with the technology itself. â¢ Technology Uncertainty. The performance of technology may be inherently uncertain (e.g., because the technology is not yet proven or has complex interactions with the trans- portation system that are difficult to anticipate and assess). This uncertainty makes it difficult for agencies to weigh the costs, benefits, and effects of technologies. (Example from Case Studies: The technical validity of advanced transporta- tion and land use models was a key concern of practitioners.) â¢ Other Technical Barriers. Barriers may be inherent in a technology. (Example from Case Studies: The use of several pavement innovations is limited by very cold winter climate in some regions.) Other barriers are institutional (i.e., an agencyâs own orga- nization, culture, capacity, and resources may stand in the way of it engaging fruitfully in processes to identify, assess, shape, and adopt innovative technologies). â¢ Performance Assessment. Agencies (or their partners) may not have adequate skills, experience, or resources to assess the costs, benefits, and outcomes of technology adoption adequately. Agencies may also have insufficient objectivity in evaluating a technology. (Example from Case Studies: Many interviewees expressed concerns that the developers of ITS applications also evaluate their performance and may not be objective evaluators.) â¢ Standards, Rules, and Regulations. Agencies may choose or be required to adhere to technical standards, rules, and regulations that limit or hinder their ability to adopt tech- nology. Although adhering to technical standards may encourage consistency, predictability, and ease of assess- ment, standards may hinder the adoption of innovations that are rapidly evolving and for which the development and adoption of standards cannot keep pace. (Example from Case Studies: Confusion about the role of different standards and regulations hinders the adoption of CSS design.) â¢ Internal Organization and Culture. The hierarchical orga- nizational structures often found in transportation agencies may make it difficult to bring together the correct mix of decisionmakers, technologists, managers, and other stake- holders. Projects may stall because technology assessments were not fully communicated to decisionmakers and agency staff. Agencies may not have a culture of innovation or may lack a comfortable niche for those with technical skills in emerging areas. Personnel may not have resources with which to be innovative or may not be rewarded for taking risks. (Example from Case Studies: Reviews suggest that there may be significant inertia and conflicting values among staff that hinders the adoption of CSS.) â¢ Inadequate Skill-Mix. Agencies may not have the required technical knowledge or the human resources to successfully assess and adopt technology. (Example from Case Studies: Interviewees expressed significant concerns that agencies may not have technical expertise to evaluate or implement certain ITS projects.) â¢ Technical Information. The information about a technol- ogy may also have shortcomings (e.g., if such information is poorly communicated). (Example from Case Studies: Decisionmakers in ITS expressed frustration at the use of technical jargon in communicating about projects.) Other barriers are created by the larger political, economic, legal, and social context in which agencies operate and can affect the ability of agencies to assess and adopt technologies. â¢ Investment, Legal Requirements, and Markets. Uncer- tain or high deployment and maintenance costs, restric- tions on funding and the fungibility of available funds, and unfavorable market conditions may make it difficult 7 This refers to an innovation in transportation system design and process that combines street design, multimodal operations, landscaping, and streetscape investments, coordinated with land uses along the street being remedied.
5 for agencies to secure or use the resources to successfully adopt technologies. Public agency contracting procedures (e.g., stringent bidding requirements, policies against sole-source supplier relationships, or inefficient bid/award rules) may make it difficult for agencies to employ innova- tive organizations and devices. (Example from Case Studies: The emphasis on low-bid practices has hindered agencies from using advanced pavements that may actually have lower full life-cycle costs than other materials.) â¢ Multi-Party Coordination. Deploying almost any tech- nology requires consensus among parties. There may not be established processes to build consensus or resolve stale- mates, particularly when agencies and organizations have conflicting policy objectives. (Example from Case Studies: ITS projects often requireâbut are hindered byâcoordination among transportation agencies, local governments, private companies, and public groups. â¢ External Acceptance. The success of technology also depends on consumer preferences. These preferences may not be aligned with technological offerings because of alter- native preferences or cultural and social norms that work against a particular technology application. Also, users may not be familiar with or be educated about particular tech- nologies or may misunderstand the risks and benefits of such technologies. These barriers can arise at various times during project development, from the initial inception of an idea to deployment. (Example from Case Studies: CSS proj- ects faced difficulty in implementing street redesign projects because of dissatisfaction from local business owners, neigh- borhoods, and other stakeholders, despite strong outreach efforts.) Potential Shortcomings of Current Technology Assessment Studies Efforts exist to provide information on technology choices to transportation agencies. As part of the analysis, the research team wanted to better understand the extent to which such efforts provide the necessary information to address the full range of barriers to adoption. To do so, the research team employed a specific exampleânondestructive evaluation (NDE) and monitoring of bridge decks.8 This became the âlaboratoryâ for examining the issues surrounding technology assessment and decision making in transportation agencies. (This laboratory is used again in Chapter 4 to demonstrate STREAM.) After examining available studies, the research team detected shortcomings that could limit the benefit that agencies might derive from this literature. Few Studies Provide Guidance on Technology Decision Making Studies designed to facilitate technology transfer in trans- portation provide descriptions of technologies, their benefits and drawbacks, assessments of their use, and other key infor- mation. However, agencies must ultimately make decisions about which technologies to implement, and when and how. Most reports on NDE technologies for bridge deck inspection provide little guidance on how such decisions should be made. For example, the research could not find reports describing which NDE technologies should be used in different situations (e.g., based on agency size, geography and climate, and finan- cial resources), explaining how costs and benefits for different NDE technologies or technology bundles can be calculated, or recommending certain technologies as best practices. This need for guidance on technology decision making is not by any means specific to NDE technologies. However, exam- ples of guidance do exist in some technology areas and could be used as a model in others. TCRP Report 76: Guidebook for Selecting Appropriate Technology Systems for Small Urban and Rural Public Transportation Operators (2002) provides (1) an overview of technologies that could benefit transit operators; (2) a matrix approach to matching technologies to agenciesâ needs; (3) guidance on technology, cost, and other concerns; and (4) processes that agencies could use to implement the technologies. It is likely that more guidance on technology decision making would facilitate and encourage technology adoption and implementation. A Consistent Approach to Guidance on Decision Making Seems Lacking The studies that provide guidance on technology decision making do not appear to take a consistent approach. TCRP Report 76 uses a matrix approach to match technologies to applications and contexts. Other studies take a cost-benefit approach.9 Although specific guidance should be tailored to the technologies being considered, the absence of a consistent framework or integrated decision-making method means that agencies must consider in each instance how to frame the find- ings about technologies within the frame of reference of their own agency and determine themselves how to apply such tech- nologies. This could pose a challenge to effective technology adoption and implementation. Synthesis studies offer good examples of technology- oriented studies that have a clear and consistent approach across reports. Reports in the NCHRP synthesis studies series use generally consistent methods for literature reviews and 8 Bridges consist of the sub-structure, which provides contact with the ground, the super-structure of the bridge itself, and the bridge deck surface on which vehicles travel. 9 Although not directly related to NDE of bridge decks, see, for example, the objectives posted at http://rns.trb.org/dproject.asp?n=13581 [accessed 30 April 2013.]
6surveys of practitioners and have a clear structure that per- mits easy identification of the objectives, scope, and other features of the report. Each study tailors this approach to the needs of its particular subject. The âtailored templateâ used in these series could be extended to literature on technology decision-making. Agencies Perform Duplicate Studies in Order to Make Technology Decisions Transportation agencies seeking to use technologies often conduct their own studies to inform decision making. Many of these studies assess the same technology application, just in a slightly different context. In the example of bridge inspection and monitoring, the research team noted several instances of DOTs undertaking their own studies to answer the question, âHow well does ground penetrating radar (GPR), a specific NDE technology, work for evaluating bridge decks?â in order to inform adoption decisions. Examples of such studies include â¢ âDOT Bridge Deck Evaluation Air-Launched Horn Antenna for Bridge Deck Analysisâ (Maine DOT, 2006) â¢ âUse of Ground Penetrating Radar to Delineate Bridge Deck Repair Areasâ (New Hampshire DOT, 2002) â¢ âBridge Deck Condition Studies in Missouri Utilizing Ground Penetrating Radarâ (Missouri DOT, 2001) â¢ âFeasibility of Using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) for Pavements, Utilities, and Bridgesâ (South Dakota DOT, 2006) These studies apply similar methods in field testing GPR. Certainly, there is value in ongoing research to address the same problem, particularly as technologies evolve, and to build capacity in using these technologies. Conditions in Maine differ from those in Missouri. However, the same level of knowledge might be achieved with fewer resources because of duplication of technology testing (at the same time, little is spent on the problem of framing the basis for determining if, when, and how to adopt and implement this and other similar technologies). This duplication raises many questionsâWhat incentives are there for agencies conducting such studies to share them more widely? What prevents the results achieved by one agency from being used directly by another? What kinds of assessments would meet the needs of a range of agencies and how might they be undertaken? Guidance and Individual DOT Studies May Have Methodological Shortcomings The review suggested that studies that provide guidance for DOTs as well as DOTsâ own studies have methodological shortcomings. For instance, many studies do not con- sider the effect of a technology on all agency goals, focus- ing instead on only a narrow set. The study âFeasibility of Using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) for Pavements, Utilities, and Bridgesâ for South Dakota DOT (SDDOT) uses a cost-benefit analysis to assess the value to SDDOT for adopting GPR. The study looks at the costs of technol- ogy acquisition and use on the one hand, and benefits to maintenance effectiveness and speed on the other. But, the effects of this GPR on other goals (e.g., safety, sustainability, and system reliability) could be significant and also weighed as system-relevant factors when deciding whether to adopt the technology. These issues are often skirted or treated only cursorily, in part because it is not clear how such effects should be assessed and weighted. To do so would also add considerably more complication (and cost) to the assess- ment process. These Factors May Slow the Adoption of Beneficial Technologies As a result of all these factors, the adoption of technolo- gies may be slowed, even when technologies are mature and offer significant benefits. In the instance of bridge inspection and monitoring, GPR was tested by transportation agencies beginning in the 1980s. Time is needed between the testing of such technology and its final-form embodiment into prod- ucts and services sufficiently developed to warrant consid- eration by transportation agencies. However, a survey of transportation practitioners found that â92 percent of the DOT bridge engineers are familiar with NDE techniques, yet the use of such techniques is minimal to nonexistentâ (Abudayyeh, 2004.) Moreover, âonly 38 percent of DOTs responding indicated they used NDE methods other than visual inspection for assessing bridges, while 62 percent did not use these techniques.â The study further found that âDOTs (75 percent of respondents) did not have in-house criteria for selecting the appropriate NDE technique.â In other words, 30 years after its development, most agencies are still not using GPR. Agencies continue to apply visual inspection, only supplemented in some cases by chain dragging and hammer sounding techniques.10 These obser- vations highlight that many of the obstacles that prevent expediting future technologies in transportation also apply to mature technologies. 10 In chain dragging, a heavy chain fixed at the end of a hollow pipe is dragged across a bare concrete deck to assess the deckâs integrity and to determine the extent and quantity of deterioration. In hammer sounding, an engineer taps a hammer on the surface of the bridge, using changes in the sound to detect defects.
7 Principles for Better Technology Assessment The key to gaining greater mastery over technology assess- ment and implementation decision making is to ask explicitly: What potential benefits to transportation agencies would come as a result of employing the technology being considered? Technol- ogy ultimately is a means to one or more ends. Any technology is a tool for a transportation agency to carry out functions and meet goals. To reflect this relationship, technology assessment should be rooted in several guiding principles. Principle 1: Assess and Compare Technologies in Relation to Agency Goals What is it that transportation agencies want to achieve and how can technology assessment and implementation help them to achieve this? The research team examined the mission documents of many U.S. transportation agencies at the national, state, and regional levels. The research team also conducted interviews with transportation officials. Their broad mission is to provide management and stewardship over their respective transporta- tion systems. The research team further identified four goals that derive from their mission.11 â¢ Safety. The transportation system should enable trans- portation that is safe for the passengers and goods being transported as well as for the surrounding communities. â¢ Mobility. The transportation system should enable people to have reliable access to goods, services, and opportunities, and facilitate travel where necessary to have that access. â¢ Preservation. The transportation agencies should apply responsible stewardship to maintain, sustain, and pro- tect the transportation system for use by this and future generations. â¢ Sustainability: The transportation system should move people, goods and information in ways that reduce adverse environmental, economic, and social effects. Goals also arise indirectly and stem largely from the prin- ciples by which individual agencies seek to carry out their mis- sions with respect to the transportation system, rather than being direct goals for the transportation system itself. The issue of technology assessment and use is a major factor in several of these: â¢ Cost-Effectiveness. Agencies should provide high-quality services and infrastructure at the lowest feasible cost. â¢ Efficiency. The transportation system should move the max- imum possible number of people and goods with existing resources. â¢ Equity. The distribution of benefits and costs of the trans- portation system should be fair and just. â¢ Multimodal Mobility. The system should allow travel via various motorized and non-motorized modes and allow seamless transfers between modes. â¢ Reliability. The system should have predictable travel times and availability. â¢ Timeliness. Agencies should ensure that planning and assessment are carried forward in a manner that leads to decision making with minimum delay. â¢ Accuracy. An agencyâs technology and program assessments should be accurate in determining their value to the trans- portation system, drivers and barriers, and other factors or trends that would affect their effectiveness. â¢ Ease of Assessment and Implementation. Such assessment should be integral to agency processes and not disruptive or isolated activities in themselves. These goals are unlikely to change during the course of the next 10 to 40 years: it is difficult to imagine a future in which values such as safety, mobility or cost-effectiveness are no longer valued.12 The examination of transportation agency mission goals on the one hand and the role of technology as a means for helping agencies meet these goals, on the other, suggest that technologies should be evaluated with respect to agency goals. Principle 2: Derive Transportation Agency Technology Needs on the Basis of Specific Functions That Require Support Agencies perform several functions to meet their mission goals. These include â¢ Planning â¢ Modeling 11 Although âgoalsâ and âobjectivesâ are often used interchangeably, it is useful to distinguish between them for the purposes of looking into the future. Goals are broad and constant. Agencies derive goals from their mission and incorporate them into how they do business. For example, safety will always be a goalâeven if an agency is satisfied with its safety record, safety will not become obsolete or unnecessary. Objectives, on the other hand, are specific targets. Safety objec- tives, for example, may be defined by a threshold number of crash fatalities per year in a particular state or region. As this suggests, progress toward objectives is measurable with timetables and target figures, and objectives are tailored to the agency that sets them. Although every transportation agency may have a safety goal, one objective related to a specific number of crash fatalities might be unrealistically low in a large jurisdiction and too high in a small one. Objectives are operational and thus critical to attaining broader goals. 12 The list may be added to in the same way that sustainability has become more of a consideration in the past two decades than was previously the case by broadening it to include the environmental dimension.
8â¢ Designing â¢ Financing â¢ Constructing â¢ Operating â¢ Inspecting â¢ Maintaining â¢ Researching â¢ Assessing Each function involves making decisions and it is rare when the decisions for any one of these functions do not have implications for at least one of the other functions. Put simply, the list implies more of a cycle than a unidirectional flow (although this oversimplifies the relationships among these functions). This interconnection is all the more true in the case of new technology assessment, adoption, and implementation. It could be useful to assess transportation agency technology needs not by considering technologies themselves as the cru- cial unit of analysis but rather as instrumental inputs to car- rying out the functions the agencies perform. The functions of agencies become the central focus for technology assess- ment in this perspective. Technologies must be examined within that context. Principle 3: Use Multiple Metrics to Assess and Compare Technologies with Respect to the Full Range of Agency Goals Technologies can, in various ways, affect how, or how well, an agency performs its functions. Technologies such as vari- able message signs can improve traffic flow and congestion, thereby improving system operations. Technologies can also help agencies make better decisions. Often, a technology can affect functions through each of these methods simul- taneously. An inspection technology might identify concrete defects more quickly or cheaply than the current state of prac- tice and provide the same quality of information about the material being inspected. This might not change the agencyâs decision about repairs, but could help it arrive at those same decisions more efficiently. If it also enabled agencies to avoid roadway closures, it would improve how the agency operates the system. Not all technologies will be beneficial in all respects. Some technologies may offer benefits at too high a cost. Technol- ogies may also have a positive effect on certain goals while causing negative consequences for others. Multiple metrics may be needed to assess the effect of technologies on the complete range of agency goals. Principle 4: Identify and Compare Existing and Prospective Technologies by Effect on Functional Performance Rather Than by Technology Type Technologies should not be considered separate from the context of their proposed use. Technologies and transportation agency functions can be seen as having a supply-and-demand relationship. The functions (e.g., plan, model, and construct) and the goals that drive them (e.g., safety and mobility) make up the demand side. Technologies can change how functions are performed and improve the ability to achieve the goals that those functions are intended to serve. Thus the technology applications (e.g., smart pavements and inspection technolo- gies) and the core scientific and technological knowledge that enables them (e.g., nanotechnology and sensors) make up the supply side. The challenge facing transportation agencies is how to identify and assess the supply of technology applications in light of the needs of transportation agency functions. Ultimately, agencies must make decisions about how to react to technologi- cal opportunities: stand by and observe developments; adopt in their current state; or seek to shape them and their development. Figure 2-1 illustrates how state DOTs and MPOs imple- ment technology.13 Possible technology opportunities resulting from science and technology developments in relevant areas (e.g., civil and mechanical engineering, materials science and engineering, computer science and engineering, information and communications, and NDE) provide the âsupplyâ and are placed within the same function-based frame of reference, even though they emerged from different industrial or technological sectors. The âdemandâ comes from performance requirements or capability improvements envisioned by the DOT or MPO to meet federal and state directives, as well as agency objectives for the goals of safety, mobility, preservation, and sustainability. Technology opportunities must then be matched to meet the new performance requirements or weighed against known shortcomings with current practices. The matching process also involves consideration of costs, barriers, and other realities of the technology. Sometimes this requires addi- tional research, either on the supply side to establish whether or not the performance requirements can be met, or on the demand side to specify the requirements and the environ- mental conditions under which they must be achieved. These are denoted âtechnology researchâ and âperformance specifi- 13 The process shown in the figure is intended to be normative, rather than descriptive, of the current process used by DOTs and MPOs. From the literature review and interviews of practitioners, the research team observed that barriers such as those discussed in the previous section are often considered before the matching step. Following the normative process in Figure 2-1 would allow the identification of the full spectrum of available technology applications that should be considered for adoption and implementation.
9 cationâ in the figure and are necessary before it can be deter- mined that a match can be made. Once a match is made, two important tasks remain before the technology can be implemented. The first is evaluation and demonstration of the benefits and cost of implementation under the specific conditions of the application when compared to alternatives for accomplishing the same tasks, including the existing means. If, after this first step, the agency decides to move ahead with implementation, the agency must then address bar- riers such as winning institutional and public support, obtaining funding for implementation and any operations and mainte- nance support that will be needed, including training. 14 This perspective suggests that the taxonomy according to which technologies should be examined should not be that of the familiar disciplinary and historical categories (e.g., materials, informatics, and software engineering). Instead, technologies from any and all potential sectors should be considered in light of how they may affect specific agency functions. That is the relevant taxonomy. Positive outcomes in terms of agency mission goals may be achieved by per- forming a particular function more effectively by using one or more from among a wide range of technological enhance- ments which assist that function. These should be assessed in relation to each other, rather than within the more narrow technological subdivisions to which most technology assess- ments confine them. Principle 5: Include Current Knowledge About Existing and Prospective Technologies Within a Common Framework for Assessment, Tracking, and Decision One of the largest issues involved in assessing technolo- gies for adoption by transportation agencies is that of tech- nological maturity. There is understandable reticence to make a large investment in technology today only to discover during the planned lifetime of the newly adopted technology that an even newer alternative is available that is superior in performance, cost savings, or bothâor may even render the prior innovation obsolete.15 This problem increases with the rapidity and ubiquity of change, especially if the principle of considering potentially useful applications widely across technology sectors is adopted. The difficulty in avoiding this situation is precisely that tech- nologies exist at varying levels of maturity. Generally speaking, the more mature a technology along the process leading from prospective vision through design, testing, marketing, applica- tion and wide-scale use, the greater the information about inher- ent capabilities, actual performance, various associated costs, and unforeseen problems. Technologies that may have been immature when a decision was made may be farther along by the time the selected older technology is still being implemented. Nothing can resolve this uncertainty reliably and with confidence. What is of potential use to agency planners and decisionmakers is to have a framework that permits a more Technology Implementation Federal and State Directives and Agency Goals Relevant Science and Technology Developments Transportation Technology Opportunities DOT/MPO Performance Requirements MATCH Evaluate and Demonstrate Benefits/Cost Address Barriers Figure 2-1. The process of state DOT and MPO technology implementation. 14 The less normative and more descriptive the depiction of this supply and demand balance, the more that the barriers we have described above might come into play and affect the outcome of the matching. Different technologi- cal approaches to enhancing a particular function may raise different types of objections and be affected by barriers differently. 15 These concerns may be considered minimal from a purely technical perspec- tive. They loom large in the sociology and psychology of decision making within a hierarchical government organization such as a transportation agency.
10 sophisticated and easily updated perspective that will allow them to include and reflect the state of knowledge about indi- vidual technologies and to include this knowledge within a common field of information. Principle 6: Make the Assessment Process Less Disruptive to and More Integral with Regular Agency Functions Several issues make discussion of technological alternatives difficult within transportation agencies. One of the biggest is the difference between the normal flow of work in those departments largely associated with planning functions and those concerned with the actual operations of the transporta- tion system being administered. These offices not only per- form different functions but have different time horizons, are attuned to different schedules, and often draw on different resources. This is true to a greater or lesser extent among the various functions that these two broad headings of planning and operations may be divided into. In addition to this difference in perspective between plan- ning and operations, it is also difficult to assess not only the possible direct effects of a technology but also account for what might be the indirect effects either on that function or on some other agency function not actually under consideration. Gaining cognizance of these indirect effects may be achieved by widening the circle of participants in the technology assess- ment process. But this may then have deleterious effects on the efficiency and timeliness of the process itself, even if some basis may be found for doing so. Beyond this, there is a problem that all organizations face when confronting the increasing ubiquity of technology cou- pled with the rapidity of technological changeâtranslating the results from analysis and assessment into usable input for deci- sionmakers is difficult. All too often, such analyses are carried out as exceptional exercises that by their nature are either dis- ruptive to or isolated from the main daily activities of the orga- nization carrying out the assessment. This makes such exercises potentially upsetting to normal functions (and therefore per- haps even unconsciously viewed as a threat to being able to carry out those functions) or divorced from the actual terms in which decisions are actively discussed and eventually made.16 Minimizing the potential for such actual disruption, or the perception of technology assessment activities as either threatening or irrelevant, is important. To the extent that the actual decisions that eventually will need to be made can become integral to and the basis on which analysis and assess- ment are conducted will make this transition less abrupt and more seamless. Principle 7: Provide Sufficient Information to Understand the Degree of Uncertainty and Enable Flexible Operation Under Evolving Circumstances The assessment process must help agencies compare and choose from among technologies now and in the future. Many technology applications can affect each function that agencies perform. The assessment process must help agen- cies assess and compare how different technologies affect each of the goals, and then must help agencies make deci- sions about technologiesâwhich ones to adopt, which ones to shape, which ones to monitor, and so forth. Agencies will need to assess technologies available now and those that will be available in the future. Agencies will also need to assess technologies periodically to keep up with new developments. The state of knowledge is not perfect nor can it ever be. Uncertainty is an inherent part of technological innovation and adoption: It is not a failure of due diligence but inherent in the enterprise itself. This simple truth is absent from many exercises in technology foresight and assessment. It is suffi- ciently important, indeed the heart of the difficulties expe- rienced by agencies in technological decision making, that it should be stated explicitly and confronted directly in any assessment method or specific application. The Virtue of Simplicity An eighth, over-riding principle governed the research teamâs work on STREAM. Any assessment method needed to be practical and usable. Complex evaluation methods were avoided and instead the research team asked what was essen- tial; the research team refined the method so that it would provide the greatest benefit while maintaining accessibility. STREAM is intended for the staff in DOTs and MPOs who need to understand and explain the differences in potential between different technology alternatives. 16 Those activities carried out by parts of organizations that may be viewed as threatening by most other members of the organization are referred to by managerial theorists as âprecarious values.â Such activities are under perpetual threat of minimization or elimination by those who often act out of a genuine desire to enhance a focus on primary mission goals.