ABJ30 Members and Friends,

Below is a brief description of the Data Report Card Initiative -- I think this idea now has even more value as we face more concerns about fiscal constraints and increased pressure for the very best data to make important transportation decisions -- let me know what you think -- thanks! 



ABJ30 Contribution to the Data Report Card Initiative


On March 19th and 20th, the Data and Information Systems Section held a Retreat to develop a shared “near term vision” – with representatives from each of the Section’s 11 committees, two subcommittees, at-large members and invited guests from partnering agencies.  Based on the ABJ30 Special Discussion we held at the 2008 Annual Meeting, three priority issues were submitted for discussion at the Retreat.  These issues are:


  • Stewardship:  What guidelines are needed to treat data as an asset?
  • What are the urgent needs for urban transportation data?
  • Are there new ways of obtaining and serving up data?


All of our priorities will require collaboration with other committees and new partner agencies.  In extensive discussions at the Retreat, it was recommended that we work on these prior issues in a new Initiative – a Data Report Card.  While a TRB-associated entity cannot produce a document that “grades” databases and data programs, it can provide guidance on how an agency could do this as a self-assessment tool.  The data report initiative will be focused on developing the content and process to help improve data at all levels (federal, state and local) by identifying criteria and categories of data, providing best practices for collection and analysis and visualization techniques, and serving as an on-going data improvement strategy.  ABJ30 is well-positioned to contribute to this initiative.  As a Committee, we can use this opportunity to move forward with our priorities in this comprehensive setting. 


We will need to establish an internal process for making our contribution.  Do we want to establish a new “working group” or look for contributions from all members/friends?  One option for moving forward could be to consider using a “layering” strategy for assessing and improving data (actually used in developing a bike path) where the direction and elements possible today are explicitly laid out – so you can travel the whole system, even if some areas are uneven – you can still follow the path.  The layers are planned and implemented as incremental improvements, while the path continues to “work”.  This process differs from phasing, where normally only portions are completed, from start to finish.  This would allow agencies to find their way towards better data - encouraging improvements, while planning changes, etc.    



Catherine T. Lawson, Ph. D.
Director, MRP Program
Associate Professor
University at Albany
Geography & Planning
AS 218 1400 Washington
Albany, New York 12222
(518) 442-4775
(518) 442-4742 FAX
(518) 209-1155 CELL