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Publication Number:  Vol. 61 No. 3    Date:  Nov/Dec 1997
Publication Number: Vol. 61 No. 3
Date: Nov/Dec 1997


The ARTS Compendium: FHWA's Electronic Rural ITS Project Tracking System

by Galina Belfor, Lee-Jane Chen, Charles Liu, Paul Pisano, and Eileen Singleton


For the past six years, the National Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Program has been promoting the development and application of advanced systems to enhance the safety and efficiency of our nation's highways. While most of the initial ITS applications have been in urban areas, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) recognizes the applicability of ITS to address transportation problems in rural areas. To meet the needs of residents and travelers in and through rural areas and to assist the agencies responsible for the operation and maintenance of the rural transportation system, USDOT has developed the Advanced Rural Transportation Systems (ARTS) Program.

As part of the ARTS Program development, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) created the ARTS Compendium as a tool to track current technology applications related to rural areas and to help identify areas in need of further research and field testing. This article describes the ARTS Compendium and its content, uses, and development.

Description of the ARTS Compendium

The ARTS Compendium is a compilation of a variety of ITS project types from planning studies to federally funded field operational tests. The compendium includes projects being planned for and implemented in both rural and urban settings; however, all projects have implications within the ARTS Program. The first version of the compendium includes almost 200 projects being planned or implemented in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

As a means of identifying how the projects fit into the ARTS and National ITS programs, each project has been assigned objectives that indicate the needs and services met by the project. Objectives are based on critical program areas (CPAs) developed for the ARTS program and on user services that are defined by the National ITS Program Plan. Table 1 provides a summary of projects by CPA and project status.

Table 1. Summary of Projects by Critical Program Area and Project Status

Critical Program Areas TOTAL
Complete 14 7 7 9 13 6 10 66
29 9 11 13 20 16 15 113
In use 20 5 5 8 25 4 3 70
8 6 7 4 8 3 5 41
Unknown 6 0 6 6 3 6 5 32
TOTAL 77 27 36 40 69 35 38 322

The following information is provided for each project in the ARTS Compendium: project name; lead agency; location (city and state) where project is based; contact name, affiliation, address, and phone number; user service(s); applicability (indicates where/how the project is implemented -- rural, urban, small urban, corridor, commercial vehicle operations, and vehicle-based); reference (where project is described); critical program area(s) (combination of similar attributes, needs, or services around which rural ITS solutions will be developed); project status; project cost (if known); level of complexity based on technology used and number of parties involved in the project; the project entry was last modified; and project description.

Initially, the ARTS Compendium was just a list of rural ITS projects. As the list of projects grew, the compendium became an inefficient research tool. A database format was seen as the next logical step to facilitate compendium use. Consequently, FHWA developed user-friendly software that enables viewing and searching of projects in the ARTS Compendium.

Today, the ARTS Compendium is an online information system that allows for quick and easy information retrieval. Moreover, the compendium is a "living" document, with additions and modifications being made whenever necessary to keep the database current. Users are encouraged to provide project updates and additions to FHWA for inclusion in the compendium.

The ARTS Compendium has three primary user functions:

  1. To provide users with an introduction to ARTS and an overview of the compendium.
  2. To allow users to sort, browse, search, and modify projects in the database.
  3. To allow users to add new projects to the database.

Uses of the ARTS Compendium

As a compilation of ITS projects with applications in rural areas, the ARTS Compendium is a useful tool for anyone interested in planning or implementing ITS projects in rural areas. By providing a comprehensive listing of ARTS and ARTS-related projects, the compendium can he used to provide an overview of rural ITS activity. In addition, it can assist with research on what has been done to meet a particular need or provide a particular service.

Users can browse the database and use pre-defined and user-selected searches to identify projects of interest. The compendium provides sufficient information to enable users to determine if they would like additional project information from the project contact.

The compendium also provides an opportunity for users to add projects to or modify projects in the database, ensuring that the compendium is always up-to-date.

Software Development

The ARTS Compendium is a Windows-based software application written in Delphi. Its database is in dBase format and is compatible with most xBase languages, The software employs standard Windows graphic user interface for point-and-click ease. It can be run on any PC platform under Windows 3.x, Windows 95, and Windows NT.

Presently, the compendium can be downloaded from the Internet. Once the program is downloaded, users can install it on their own computers. Minimum hardware requirements vary based on the Windows operating system and are as follows: 486DX2/66 megahertz (MHZ) processor and 16 megabytes (mb) random access memory (RAM) for Windows 3.x; Pentium/100 MHZ processor with 16 mb RAM for Windows 95; and Pentium/166 MHZ processor with 32 mb RAM for Win- dows NT. The program was designed for a 256-color monitor with 640 by 480 resolution. Users also need at least 2 mb of free hard disk space.

Future plans call for "web-enabling" the ARTS Compendium to allow interactive user access while connected to the Internet. This will undoubtedly help extend the reach of the compendium to a significantly wider audience by making the program easier to use.

The ARTS Compendium is available on the Internet, providing easy, inexpensive access for everyone with an interest in rural ITS. Users can find the compendium at www.its.dot.gov/rural. Summary

The ARTS Compendium is a database computer program that contains pertinent information about ARTS and ARTS-related ITS projects. The user-friendly software can be used by anyone interested in learning about the range of applications that meet a particular need or provide a particular service in the rural sector. The compendium can also be used to track current technology applications related to rural areas and to help identify areas in need of further research and field testing.


1. "ARTS Strategic Plan", Internet document, U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, D.C., December 1996.

2. Gary Euler and H. Douglas Robertson. National Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS3 Program Plan, First Edition, U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, D.C., March 1995.

Galina Belfor is a programmer/ analyst for Scientific Technology Inc. of Gaithersburg, Md. She has assisted FHWA in the development and maintenance of various database applications in Delphi, Clipper, dBase, and Clarion. She is a computer science graduate of the Moscow Transportation University in Russia.

Lee-Jane Chen was a senior programmer for Scientific Technology Inc. of Gaithersburg, Md., during the development of the ARTS Compendium. She coordinated the software development effort and prepared the users guide. She received her master's degree in applied science from the College of William and Mary.

Dr. Charles Liu is the president of LENDIS Corporation, a professional services firm specializing in Transportation Engineering and Computer Technology in McLean, Va. His areas of expertise include traffic simulation and engineering, transportation planning and modeling, and safety analysis. He is an adjunct faculty member at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and a regular reviewer for the American Society of Civil Engineers' Journal of Transportation Engineering. He received a master's degree in civil engineering and a doctorate from Purdue University He is a registered professional engineer.

Paul Pisano is a research highway engineer at the Federal Highway Administration's Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, Va. His current areas of focus include the development and management of the rural ITS program and the integration of road weather information systems, traffic management systems, and advanced meteorology. He has both a bachelor's degree and master's degree in civil engineering from the University of Maryland.

Eileen Singleton is a graduate student in the Civil Engineering Department of the University of Maryland at College Park. Since September 1996, she has been a research assistant at the Turner- Fairbank Highway Research Center. She has a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Cornell University.



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