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Page 29
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Implementation of STREAM." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2013. Strategic Issues Facing Transportation, Volume 3: Expediting Future Technologies for Enhancing Transportation System Performance. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22448.
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Page 29
Page 30
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Implementation of STREAM." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2013. Strategic Issues Facing Transportation, Volume 3: Expediting Future Technologies for Enhancing Transportation System Performance. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22448.
×
Page 30
Page 31
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Implementation of STREAM." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2013. Strategic Issues Facing Transportation, Volume 3: Expediting Future Technologies for Enhancing Transportation System Performance. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22448.
×
Page 31
Page 32
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Implementation of STREAM." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2013. Strategic Issues Facing Transportation, Volume 3: Expediting Future Technologies for Enhancing Transportation System Performance. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22448.
×
Page 32

Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

29 The benefits to the individual user of STREAM will increase as the number of total users rises. Agencies may benefit signifi- cantly from being able to access and learn from each other’s applications of STREAM for implementing their own studies as well as being able to use the results of others, tailoring those results to the agency’s needs and circumstances. Additionally and very much by design, there are many steps in STREAM that would be common to agencies, suggesting that a concerted collaboration on these common steps would benefit many. The question also remains how STREAM might be imple- mented, not only within an agency but more generally. In this final chapter the research team considers how this might occur by offering two (not at all mutually exclusive) paths to wider adoption and application of STREAM. The first the research team calls the “top-down” approach that would require establishing formal institutions for collaboration. The second, grassroots or “bottom-up” approach would, by its nature, be less formalized institutionally and so would follow a more path-dependent and variable process for achieving similar ends. However, the effort required to initiate this process would be less challenging. Both paths could help individual agencies with tough technology choices in the future. Cooperative Technology Board/Panel Approach The STREAM process has potential for division of labor (i.e., some of the steps must be conducted entirely or in part by the agencies weighing the technological alternatives while other steps lend themselves to collaboration). Indeed, it is hard to imagine all but the largest of DOTs and MPOs having the resources and organization to fully implement STREAM in all particulars for each technology choice they face. Few could or would do so. Instead of an agency-by-agency implementation of STREAM, the research team imagined a partnership between a structure (hereafter, the “Board/panel” as described below) constituted to carry out some of the steps on a collaborative basis and to then pass along their findings in standardized format to individual agencies which then determine the relevance for their own situations and the decisions they face. The research team outlines below one approach for framing institutions such as the Board and the processes they use as well as those to be followed by transportation agencies. The research team envisioned the collaborative effort car- ried on outside the individual DOTs to have both fixed and temporary institutional components. Specifically, the “Board” element would serve as a body for ongoing oversight, coordi- nation, and task definition. It would have permanent stand- ing with periodic rotation of membership. Its members would include both those who have senior experience in the policy realm of transportation at either the federal or state levels and those who have had considerable experience with transporta- tion technology efforts.46 It, in turn, would cause more spe- cific working group “panels” to be formed to focus on specific functional areas of general interest identified by the Board. There would be four distinct phases in carrying out the STREAM process as an ongoing endeavor. These phases are defined by four specific decision points. The work flow and specification of the necessary decisions, and decision author- ities, would be as follows: Phase I. The Board, either on its own or based on requests from DOTs, considers the following question with respect to a specific activity or transportation agency function: “Could the use of new technology improve the current state of prac- tice?” The question is pitched in deliberately broad terms. The Board is a higher level body whose deliberations, while not theoretical in nature, should be expansive in considering all aspects of transportation agency missions and activities. C h a p t e r 5 Implementation of STREAM 46 There may be members who combine both policy and technology expertise. We are suggesting, however, that having sole experience in only one and not the other need not bar an individual from membership.

30 This is the body that initiates and largely carries forward the Frame step of the STREAM process. If their conclusion is that there is no current need or that a reasonable prospect for improved function through use of technology is lacking, the process ends for this round although the final determination may be to schedule a future time for reviewing this decision based on information received in the interim.47 Phase II. If the answer from the Phase I decision point is instead “yes, there is potential room for improvement,” the Board and staff then begin the first stages of the Identify step in the STREAM process. Here the question to be answered is, “What current or prospective technologies would aid efforts to improve the specified activity?” This is an initial assessment car- ried out by relying on the technical specialists on the Board and its staff or engaging consultants from the outside. The initial assessment focuses on existing and potential technologies and if these warrant more detailed investigation. If so, Phase III is begun. If the determination is no, detailed investigation is not warranted, the question would be tabled for a year and then reviewed at that later date.48 Phase III. If the Board has determined that there is suf- ficient reason to suppose the answers to the first two questions are yes, Phase III begins with a qualitatively different thrust. Specifically, the Board empanels and provides a charge to a working group, hereafter referred to as a “panel.” While the Board is a permanent oversight body, a panel has only a limited life and tasking. It is composed of practitioners and experts in either the technology involved or the area of transportation agency functions being examined. It is intended that its mem- bers be more focused on the working level than in the case of the Board. This being said, a panel takes the initial higher level findings of the Board as only a starting point rather than a firm limitation on their own efforts to identify potentially applicable technologies. They would, in fact, begin their own deliberations at the first STREAM step, that of Framing. The function of a panel is to complete the Identify step begun in Phase II as well as to complete the Characterize step and to establish the framework, metrics, and database required for the Compare step in STREAM. It does so by examining existing literature and results from trials, carrying out quanti- tative analyses reported in terms of metrics based on potential agency mission outcomes, and ultimately produces an analyti- cal report which includes a compendium of the substantive data on which it deliberated, a framework for comparison and assessment of alternative technological approaches, including possible hybrid or mixed approaches, and the initial findings from its work. This analysis may be based on generic DOT characterizations.49 The goal of the phases to this point, and indeed of the STREAM framework itself, is to place the evaluation of tech- nologies and the assessment of their suitability for meeting transportation agency needs in a unified context that consid- ers the full range of issues that must be addressed. As stated before, a partial goal is to make these considerations explicit so that knowledge inputs can be assessed within a unified framework that also suggests next steps for appropriate agency action based on the totality of this knowledge. It is an approach consciously constructed to change many aspects of current practice; there are currently various demonstrations and tri- als of potential technological applications but the informa- tion gained cannot be easily shared or generalized, nor is it necessarily put in a form that directly feeds into agency-level decision processes to follow up. Phase IV. If the conclusion provided to the Board is that there appear to be insufficient reasons to push forward with one or more technological solutions at this time, the full find- ings of the panel are retained by the Board for future refer- ence in its own deliberations. If the findings are that certain technologies are worthy of the attention of DOTs and other transportation agencies that participate in the collaborative effort, the results (including most especially the bases and data for conducting the Compare step) are passed along to the member agencies. It is at this level where the final step of STREAM, Decide, is performed. However, it is most likely that the individual agency will first want to review and modify the panel’s work on the Characterize and Compare steps. They now have a highly developed starting point for doing so to achieve the greatest value while conserving agency resources. The essence of this institutional approach is that the Board/ panel could be engaged in the generalizable aspects of the first four STREAM steps. Individual agencies would necessarily play an increasingly prominent role in the final three. This breakdown is shown in Table 5-1. The overlap, Characterize and Compare, would be where “handoff” occurs between the 47 This, like all such deliberative decisions, is susceptible to varying degrees of Type II error bias—finding no cause for action when one, in fact, does exist. Unlike a medical situation where such an error may prove injurious or even fatal to the life of a patient, in this setting the consequences would be less dire. Accumulating evidence of adverse consequences and advances in technological capabilities as well as accumulating evidence on these advances will most likely combine to provide a truer appreciation to the Board when the specific activity area is taken up once more for deliberation and scrutiny. 48 Once again, there is a possibility of too myopic a view at this stage leading to a false negative. The automatic 1-year review should serve to limit the consequences of this determination. 49 In the case of bridge monitoring and assessment, the situation of groups of DOTs may be characterized by climatological region or number of bridges un- der jurisdiction to name just two such characteristics. The snow and ice removal STREAM application in Appendix B provides an example of how the typology- of-agencies approach could be applied.

31 Board’s efforts and agencies’ work. The work of the Board can be embodied in the form of technology application-specific guidelines for agencies to use, keyed to agency functions. The guidelines would be updated at set intervals, determined in part by changes in the development of technology applica- tions and in part by changes in perception of transportation agency functions. Systematizing assessment in this manner plays a role in shaping technology by providing a feedback loop to future rounds of this process. The research team believes those undertaking a STREAM evaluation will arrive at an enhanced understanding of technologies, applications, nature and roles of agency functions, and the state of current research. This in itself can have an effect in shaping those technologies that will appear in the longer term (e.g., by highlighting required research and also anticipating some of the requirements and issues that would arise from various identifiable barriers for the prospective adopting agencies). A portion of the output of a STREAM process might be on research needs and rec- ommendations to FHWA, NCHRP, and other funding bodies concerning the most pressing needs. The results of one round of STREAM could also inform future rounds undertaken (e.g., 5 years from now when technologies have matured and the results of current research are known). Agency-led Approach The Board/panel model for implementing STREAM pre- supposes the existence of a formal body that starts the STREAM process and conducts the initial steps. The process is then handed off after an initial iteration of the Compare step by the panel. The results are shared by the Board with indi- vidual transportation agencies who would then refine them to account for local conditions and concerns, beginning with the Characterize step. Under this model, the question becomes who assumes ownership and what institutional structure and auspices lead to founding the Board mechanism. This implementation model presupposes the need to answer that question. There is a second way to view the issue of implementa- tion. This is to note that not all DOTs are created equal; some transportation agencies are notable for carrying out a good deal of research effort intended to provide input to their own transportation technology adoption decisions while others have more limited means for doing so. The research team has noted some of the shortcomings in conveying the results of many such research efforts even for internal agency use. These also then necessitate other agencies to duplicate the research while yet others find it difficult to do product evaluations of this type or even to make use of what the leading agencies have done. If such agencies adopted the STREAM approach, the results could then be made more standard and so more accessible and usable to others willing to adopt this approach. Many DOTs and even MPOs have product assessment com- mittees or similarly tasked bodies. This fact and the asymme- try between agencies could provide a basis for implementing STREAM from the bottom up rather than the top down. Today, if a DOT wants to better understand the choices available for improving outcomes from performing function ‘X’ or whether they should consider adopting technology ‘Y,’ STREAM Step Board/Panel Agency Frame Defines functions for which alternative technologies are being considered and agency goals being addressed. Review and adapt Identify Develops survey and timelines of potential technology applications to agency functions. Review and adapt Characterize Identifies appropriate technology bundles. Characterizes technologies quantitatively. Identifies and recommends opportunities for research to funding agencies. The findings of that research will inform future rounds of this process (e.g., the identify step). Identifies how technologies in the future may shape the function itself. Suggests “anticipatory” steps and thinking to the agency. Future rounds of the board may use the “new” nature of the function in the identification and assessment process. Characterizes technology bundles quantitatively within the local agency context based on Board/panel output Compare Uses quantitative assessments performed in previous step to examine tradeoffs. Evaluates tradeoffs for technology bundles within local context Decide Provides guidance on basis for individual agency decision. Determines whether to monitor, shape, or adopt a technology application Table 5-1. Overview of agency and assessment board roles in STREAM process.

32 they search for available studies that cover the field broadly. In doing so they can well find several hundred such studies—or none. How can they decide which ones they should actually examine? Search is difficult and drawing appropriate infer- ences and conclusions even harder. Which are likely to prove of value in conveying usable information that is also relevant for their own circumstances? If such agencies could have access to studies by other states conducted by applying STREAM principles and formats and if such studies could be identified as such or even made available in a central repository, both their results and the STREAM steps themselves could be made to flow more easily into existing patterns of effort. In particular, this bottom-up approach would considerably reduce the necessity for some type of central oversight body, at least in the initial stages of the STREAM process adoption into practice. Rather than be a problem of direction and coordination (with the need to deal with issues of jurisdiction and authority) this approach would be more one of crowd-sourcing at the transportation agency level. This approach could change the game qualitatively. The challenge would be less one of assigning organizational owner- ship of STREAM at a high level; rather, dissemination would occur by convincing a few individual state DOTs to accept the STREAM approach for their own studies and letting them begin to build a body of such work. If the utility of such an approach in addressing the problems of technology decision- making and dissemination of knowledge becomes clear, there might be an accelerating diffusion effect. This could lead to standardization de facto rather than de jure. It is not clear that even under this second strategy a role for some type of oversight Board would be entirely eliminated. At first glance, the agency-driven or bottom-up approach would seem not to require any formal agenda setting from a broad perspective; however, the most important step in STREAM is the initial Frame step. The bottom-up approach is more “market” driven—individual agencies will conduct studies of interest to them. These will then also be of use to other agencies in other states. To accept this fully is to also accept the assumption that there will be no “market failures,” that attention and resources will be devoted to examining pos- sible technology applications in support of functions that are, indeed, of importance and wide interest. This may, indeed, prove to be the case. But there might still be value in having a method to address such matters collectively. A potential hybrid approach, occurring in two stages, might be useful. Initially, STREAM might be recommended for adop- tion and support by individual DOTs to employ in studies they will undertake. Once momentum builds, it might then become clearer why a joint agenda setting approach might be beneficial. This, in turn, might make such an approach more tractable by, on the one hand, making clearer the “value prop- osition” in accepting and following the STREAM path while, on the other, easing some of the institutional issues that might otherwise be difficult to resolve in the absence of first having concrete experience with STREAM.

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TRB’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Report 750: Strategic Issues Facing Transportation, Volume 3: Expediting Future Technologies for Enhancing Transportation System Performance presents the systematic technology reconnaissance, evaluation, and adoption methodology (STREAM).

STREAM is a process that transportation agencies can use to identify, assess, shape, and adopt new and emerging technologies to help achieve long-term system performance objectives. The process reflects relevant trends in technologies and their applications and is designed to help transportation agencies anticipate, adapt to, and shape the future.

NCHRP Report 750, Volume 3 is the third in a series of reports being produced by NCHRP Project 20-83: Long-Range Strategic Issues Facing the Transportation Industry. Major trends affecting the future of the United States and the world will dramatically reshape transportation priorities and needs. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) established the NCHRP Project 20-83 research series to examine global and domestic long-range strategic issues and their implications for state departments of transportation (DOTs); AASHTO's aim for the research series is to help prepare the DOTs for the challenges and benefits created by these trends.

Other volumes in this series currently available include:

• NCHRP Report 750: Strategic Issues Facing Transportation, Volume 1: Scenario Planning for Freight Transportation Infrastructure Investment

• NCHRP Report 750: Strategic Issues Facing Transportation, Volume 2: Climate Change, Extreme Weather Events, and the Highway System: Practitioner’s Guide and Research Report>

• NCHRP Report 750: Strategic Issues Facing Transportation, Volume 4: Sustainability as an Organizing Principle for Transportation Agencies

• NCHRP Report 750: Strategic Issues Facing Transportation, Volume 5: Preparing State Transportation Agencies for an Uncertain Energy Future

• NCHRP Report 750: Strategic Issues Facing Transportation, Volume 6: The Effects of Socio-Demographics on Future Travel Demand

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