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2020 N A T I O N A L C O O P E R A T I V E H I G H W A Y R E S E A R C H P R O G R A M NCHRP RESEARCH REPORT 947 Implementing Information Findability Improvements in State Transportation Agencies Spy pond partnerS, LLC Arlington, MA Iknow, LLC Princeton, NJ Subscriber Categories Administration and Management â¢ Data and Information Technology Research sponsored by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration
NATIONAL COOPERATIVE HIGHWAY RESEARCH PROGRAM Systematic, well-designed, and implementable research is the most effective way to solve many problems facing state departments of transportation (DOTs) administrators and engineers. Often, highway problems are of local or regional interest and can best be studied by state DOTs individually or in cooperation with their state universities and others. However, the accelerating growth of highway transporta- tion results in increasingly complex problems of wide interest to high- way authorities. These problems are best studied through a coordinated program of cooperative research. Recognizing this need, the leadership of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) in 1962 ini- tiated an objective national highway research program using modern scientific techniquesâthe National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP). NCHRP is supported on a continuing basis by funds from participating member states of AASHTO and receives the full cooperation and support of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), United States Department of Transportation, under Agree- ment No. 693JJ31950003. The Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine was requested by AASHTO to administer the research program because of TRBâs recognized objectivity and understanding of modern research practices. TRB is uniquely suited for this purpose for many reasons: TRB maintains an extensive com- mittee structure from which authorities on any highway transportation subject may be drawn; TRB possesses avenues of communications and cooperation with federal, state, and local governmental agencies, univer- sities, and industry; TRBâs relationship to the National Academies is an insurance of objectivity; and TRB maintains a full-time staff of special- ists in highway transportation matters to bring the findings of research directly to those in a position to use them. The program is developed on the basis of research needs iden- tified by chief administrators and other staff of the highway and transportation departments, by committees of AASHTO, and by the FHWA. Topics of the highest merit are selected by the AASHTO Special Committee on Research and Innovation (R&I), and each year R&Iâs recommendations are proposed to the AASHTO Board of Direc- tors and the National Academies. Research projects to address these topics are defined by NCHRP, and qualified research agencies are selected from submitted proposals. Administration and surveillance of research contracts are the responsibilities of the National Academies and TRB. The needs for highway research are many, and NCHRP can make significant contributions to solving highway transportation problems of mutual concern to many responsible groups. The program, however, is intended to complement, rather than to substitute for or duplicate, other highway research programs. Published research reports of the NATIONAL COOPERATIVE HIGHWAY RESEARCH PROGRAM are available from Transportation Research Board Business Office 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001 and can be ordered through the Internet by going to https://www.nationalacademies.org and then searching for TRB Printed in the United States of America NCHRP RESEARCH REPORT 947 Project 20-97A ISSN 2572-3766 (Print) ISSN 2572-3774 (Online) ISBN 978-0-309-48166-3 Library of Congress Control Number 2020939602 Â© 2020 National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. COPYRIGHT INFORMATION Authors herein are responsible for the authenticity of their materials and for obtaining written permissions from publishers or persons who own the copyright to any previously published or copyrighted material used herein. Cooperative Research Programs (CRP) grants permission to reproduce material in this publication for classroom and not-for-profit purposes. Permission is given with the understanding that none of the material will be used to imply TRB, AASHTO, FAA, FHWA, FTA, GHSA, NHTSA, or TDC endorsement of a particular product, method, or practice. It is expected that those reproducing the material in this document for educational and not-for-profit uses will give appropriate acknowledgment of the source of any reprinted or reproduced material. For other uses of the material, request permission from CRP. NOTICE The research report was reviewed by the technical panel and accepted for publication according to procedures established and overseen by the Transportation Research Board and approved by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The opinions and conclusions expressed or implied in this report are those of the researchers who performed the research and are not necessarily those of the Transportation Research Board; the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; the FHWA; or the program sponsors. The Transportation Research Board; the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; and the sponsors of the National Cooperative Highway Research Program do not endorse products or manufacturers. Trade or manufacturersâ names appear herein solely because they are considered essential to the object of the report.
The National Academy of Sciences was established in 1863 by an Act of Congress, signed by President Lincoln, as a private, non- governmental institution to advise the nation on issues related to science and technology. Members are elected by their peers for outstanding contributions to research. Dr. Marcia McNutt is president. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to bring the practices of engineering to advising the nation. Members are elected by their peers for extraordinary contributions to engineering. Dr. John L. Anderson is president. The National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) was established in 1970 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to advise the nation on medical and health issues. Members are elected by their peers for distinguished contributions to medicine and health. Dr. Victor J. Dzau is president. The three Academies work together as the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation and conduct other activities to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions. The National Academies also encourage education and research, recognize outstanding contributions to knowledge, and increase public understanding in matters of science, engineering, and medicine. Learn more about the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine at www.nationalacademies.org. The Transportation Research Board is one of seven major programs of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The mission of the Transportation Research Board is to provide leadership in transportation improvements and innovation through trusted, timely, impartial, and evidence-based information exchange, research, and advice regarding all modes of transportation. The Boardâs varied activities annually engage about 8,000 engineers, scientists, and other transportation researchers and practitioners from the public and private sectors and academia, all of whom contribute their expertise in the public interest. The program is supported by state transportation departments, federal agencies including the component administrations of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and other organizations and individuals interested in the development of transportation. Learn more about the Transportation Research Board at www.TRB.org.
C O O P E R A T I V E R E S E A R C H P R O G R A M S CRP STAFF FOR NCHRP RESEARCH REPORT 947 Christopher J. Hedges, Director, Cooperative Research Programs Lori L. Sundstrom, Deputy Director, Cooperative Research Programs Andrew C. Lemer, Senior Program Officer Sheila Moore, Program Associate Eileen P. Delaney, Director of Publications Natalie Barnes, Associate Director of Publications NCHRP PROJECT 20-97A PANEL Field of Special Projects Richard Y. Woo, Maryland State Highway Administration, Baltimore, MD (Chair) Chad T. Baker, California DOT, Sacramento, CA Matthew B. Barrett [Rojas], Los Angeles County (CA) Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Los Angeles, CA John Cherney, Wisconsin DOT, Madison, WI Michelle M. Morgan, Washington State DOT, Tumwater, WA Sandra L. Tucker, Bryan, TX Steven Jessberger, FHWA Liaison Mary E. Moulton, OST-R Liaison Lisa Loyo, TRB Liaison Thomas M. Palmerlee, TRB Liaison
NCHRP Research Report 947: Implementing Information Findability Improvements in State Transportation Agencies describes lessons learned from pilot applications in three state transportation agencies of methods initially presented in NCHRP Research Report 846: Improving Findability and Relevance of Transportation Information. The earlier report presents guidance for agencies for adapting and applying practices and tools to facilitate on-demand retrieval of useful information stored in project files, libraries, and other agency archives. Collecting, storing, preserving, and retrieving this information represent increas- ingly complex and costly challenges for people at all levels of the organization. The pilot applications described here demonstrate the potential value of the previously described practices and tools as well as the challenges likely to be faced by personnel undertaking to improve information findability within their agencies. Taken together, both research reports will be helpful to agency staff and others responsible for developing and managing an agencyâs information resources and for assisting information users to access the infor- mation they need, when they need it, in pursuit of the agencyâs mission. Transportation agencies are information-intensive organizations, relying on a variety of manuals and design guides, written and electronic data files, maps, images, audio files, video files, and other information stored in a variety of formats. Information collectively is a valuable asset for any organization, but finding the right information when it is needed, and then making it available to those who can use it, are often time-consuming and frus- trating tasks. The objectives of NCHRP Project 20-97 and Project 20-97A, âImproving Findability and Relevance of Transportation Information,â were to present procedures and tools to improve transportation agency information findability by (1) defining a management frameworkâincluding responsibilities of a transportation agency and its partnersâfor classification, search, and retrieval of transportation information; (2) documenting success- ful practices for organizing and classifying information that can be adapted for search and retrieval of the diverse information a transportation agency creates and uses; (3) developing federated or enterprise search procedures that an agency can use to make transportation information accessible, subject to concerns for security and confidentiality; and (4) dem- onstrating implementation of the management framework, information organization and classification practices, and search procedures. The initial research product, a guide and report of background information designed to assist agencies to tailor findability proce- dures and tools to meet their particular needs, was published in 2017 as NCHRP Research Report 846: Improving Findability and Relevance of Transportation Information. F O R E W O R D By Andrew C. Lemer Staff Officer Transportation Research Board
NCHRP subsequently undertook a second phase of research to demonstrate applica- tion of methods and tools presented in the initial work. The research was conducted by a team led by Spy Pond Partners, LLC. Three state transportation agencies (Iowa, Utah, and Washington) participated in the research. The products of this second phase are presented here: â¢ Development of a searchable website with content from eight different engineering manuals, allowing agency employees to conduct full-text searches across these manuals; â¢ Demonstration of a machine learning technique for identifying distinct subject areas and commonly used terminology within a collection of published documents, supporting design of tools to help users more efficiently navigate and explore the body of content the collection represents; â¢ Demonstration of techniques for automatically classifying documents based on content typeâfor example, agreements, easement deeds, design exceptions, or project plansâ providing a way to tag documents to facilitate information search and retrieval without time consuming manual review processes; and â¢ Demonstration of techniques for automatically extracting important information from documents (project number or location, for example) for use in search tools, particu- larly useful in situations where formal content-management intake processes are not in place. NCHRP Research Report 947 is intended to supplement NCHRP Research Report 846. NCHRP WOD 279: Information Findability Implementation Pilots at State Transportation Agencies and a dem onstration video that may be helpful to agencies adopting the tools and procedures contained in the research reports are also available and may be accessed at www. TRB.org by searching for NCHRP Research Report 947.
Note: Photographs, figures, and tables in this report may have been converted from color to grayscale for printing. The electronic version of the report (posted on the web at www.trb.org) retains the color versions. 1 Summary 3 Chapter 1 Introduction 5 Chapter 2 The Pilot Projects 5 2.1 WSDOT Pilot 6 2.2 UDOT Pilot 7 2.3 IADOT Pilot 8 2.4 Summary of Findability Improvement Techniques Demonstrated 9 Chapter 3 Opportunities and Challenges for Improved Findability 9 3.1 Opportunities 12 3.2 Challenges 14 Chapter 4 Guidance for Improving Findability 14 4.1 Agency Champions 15 4.2 Information Managers 16 4.3 Information Creators 16 4.4 Information Seekers 16 4.5 Information Technology Staff 17 Chapter 5 Findability Techniques 17 A Note on Tools 17 5.1 Creating a Searchable Website for Agency Engineering Manuals 20 5.2 Discovering Subject Areas and Terminology Within a Body of Content 23 5.3 Auto-Classifying Documents by Content Type 27 5.4 Extracting Metadata from Documents 30 Glossary 32 References 33 List of Acronyms and Abbreviations 34 Appendix A Auto-Classification and Entity Extraction Level of Effort C O N T E N T S