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|Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Public Roads > Vol. 62· No. 4 > Internet Watch|
by Sherif Gamal
While there is a wealth of transportation-related web sites generated in the United States, there is also a sizable and growing treasure of web-based information overseas that should be of interest to highway officials, researchers, and practitioners on this side of the Atlantic. No longer do you have to hop on a 747 to scour documents at the far ends of the earth. A couple of clicks can drop you into English-language or bilingual transportation web sites from around the world.
The value of what you find, as in all web sites, really depends on what you're looking for. And like most web sites in the United States, many international web sites offer some free information for downloading, but they largely serve as a storefront for selling memberships, publications, CD-ROMs, online subscriptions, or whatever is their stock-in-trade. European web sites often require the latest browsers and often have documents that need Acrobat Reader. If you haven't updated your browser and plug-ins lately, this would be a good opportunity to do it because this quick cruise of some Europe-based international road organizations will likely yield some interesting nuggets of information.
The World Road Association/PIARC web site (http://www.piarc.lcpc.fr/) is probably the most global road transportation electronic meeting place. The site reflects this organization's reach across borders and road transportation technical, managerial, and financial disciplines. Because of its long history and large, diverse international membership, this organization is a catalyst for a tremendous amount of intellectual capital.
Much of this cross-fertilized knowledge is available through the organization's technical publications and bilingual English/French quarterly magazine Routes/Roads. The publications catalog has excellent one-page abstracts of the titles, and all are published at least in English and French. The most comprehensive and cost-effective way to access the collection is through the CD-Route CD-ROM that carries most of the organization's catalog in full-text format and extensive bibliographies. The publications and the CD-ROM can be ordered by e-mail.
If your question can't wait for documents to arrive by regular mail, you can access one of the best kept secrets of the international road transportation world on the World Interchange Network (WIN) through PIARC's site or go directly to WIN's web site (http://www.rme-win-rmi.qc.ca/anglais/menu.html). This electronic network was established by PIARC and its members to serve as a free electronic expertise forum for road transportation professionals. There are 59 nodes, or contact points, housed in 39 countries and international organizations around the world providing expert answers to questions on a voluntary basis. The site allows you to submit a question by e-mail to one or more locations simultaneously.
The International Road Federation is another large organization, mostly representing industry, with two linked web sites. One site (http://www.irfnet.org/index.html) is based in Washington, D.C., and the other at the Geneva Headquarters. The Geneva web site (http://is.eunet.ch/customers/irf/index.html) is a slick, frame-based production that offers seamless continuity into associated road industry web sites with a mostly European emphasis.
Europhiles will find the European Union's (EU) information sources a good place to find just about anything on the continent. The Community Research and Development Information Service (CORDIS) (http://www.cordis.lu/) is a European Commission information service providing information on EU research. Policy-makers and number-crunchers will especially appreciate Eurostat, the EU's statistical information service (http://europa.eu.int/en/comm/eurostat/serven/home.htm).
Another good site is from the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Road Transport Research Program (http://www.oecd.org/transport/rtr/). This site offers focused international road information.
This column initiates an occasional tour to international web sites. The next swing around the world will take a look at web sites from nationally based tranportation organizations abroad.
These links and about 100 more international web sites are available on the FHWA Office of International Programs' web site (http://www.international.fhwa.dot.gov). If there are international links you would like reviewed in future editions of "Internet Watch" please e-mail your suggestions to email@example.com.
Sherif Gamal is the communication coordinator for the Federal Highway Administration's Office of International Programs. He is employed by Avalon Integrated Services Corp. of Arlington, Va.
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