Skip to contentU.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration
 
FHWA > TPM > Resources > Evaluation and Economic Investment > Data Integration Fact Sheet

Data Integration Fact Sheet

Managing Infrastructure Data

Data Integration and Data Sharing for Asset Management

A comprehensive, fully integrated Transportation Asset Management System weaves together information on all asset inventories, condition and performance databases, and alternative investment options.

Source: FHWA Asset Management Primer

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Office of Asset Management has embarked on a major research initiative to assess the data integration needs of transportation agencies and to provide technical assistance to address those needs. This FHWA initiative underscores the importance of effective information management in supporting a variety of decision-making processes.

Information management activities within transportation agencies involve tools and methodologies to collect, store, process, analyze, and present data elements required for a wide range of analyses. Data integration and data sharing are central to a Transportation Asset Management decision-making process. The comprehensive information arising from these activities is necessary to monitor and report on the condition and performance of the inventory base, develop performance objectives and measures, identify cost-effective investment strategies, and conduct value assessments for different types of assets.

Why Data Integration

The infrastructure management systems developed by transportation agencies, such as those used for pavements and bridges, provide a rich foundation from which to build the database system required to support Asset Management. Some agencies may decide to protect their prior investment in data collection and maintain their current, or legacy, information systems and data management capabilities. Others may find it necessary to upgrade or migrate their systems to facilitate database integration. In either case, the goal is to integrate the core data between the existing asset management systems and other information systems such as those used for managing physical, financial, and human resources. Bringing compatibility to the disparate data sets is challenging, however, because each system is generally characterized by limited capability for data exchange.

What Data Integration Involves

Data integration is essential for Asset Management as its business processes merge existing management systems to create a holistic decision-making framework. While it is not necessary to store all the data in a single repository, it is crucial that this data is readily accessible and comparable. Storing, accessing, and distributing data may be accomplished through a variety of means including database consolidation (warehousing) or distributing the databases among computer servers linked via a network. Some transportation agencies may find that individual databases linked via compatible referencing systems can provide a viable and practical approach for data integration.

Applications of data integration strategies to support Asset Management have occurred only in a small number of transportation agencies, and these have been limited in scope. Many States are looking to the FHWA to provide technical assistance on approaches for effectively integrating their databases. Such assistance includes identification of compatible data referencing methods, evaluation and selection of appropriate software, hardware and data communications tools, and standardization of data collection and data processing procedures.

FHWA's Role

The FHWA Office of Asset Management is interested in collecting, developing or disseminating the following information pertaining to data integration:

  • Alternative approaches and strategies that can be adopted by transportation agencies
  • Best practices from States that have integrated their databases
  • Methods for dealing with legacy systems
  • Development and application of data standards
  • Available software, hardware, and other technologies including GIS and web-based tools
  • Common problems or barriers encountered (lessons learned) and ways to alleviate them
  • Subject areas and issues that require further research

As new technologies and business processes affecting data integration continue to be introduced, research activities in this area will be ongoing. In the near term the FHWA will be working on a number of initiatives as summarized below.

FHWA Initiatives
  1. Informative materials including:
    • A Primer on Data Integration
    • Glossary of Data Integration Terms
    • Case Studies of State Experiences
  2. A workshop or forum to share agency experiences on data integration
  3. A long-term research agenda
  4. Evaluation of innovative procedures and technologies
  5. Technical assistance to States in support of their data integration efforts.

To request copies of the data integration documents published by the FHWA or to inquire about participating in the data integration forum, please contact:

Vicki Miller
FHWA Office of Asset Management
HIAM-30, Room E73-466
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE
Washington, DC 20590
Tel: 202-366-2173
E-mail: vicki.miller@dot.gov
Website: www.fhwa.dot.gov/infrastructure/asstmgmt

Updated: 01/23/2014