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Request For Information(RFI) - Virtual Access of Transportation Data From Multiple Data Sources For Improved Decision Making

Solicitation Number: DTFH61-11-I-00503
Agency: Department of Transportation
Office: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)
Location: Office of Acquisition and Grants Management
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Special Notice
Added: May 03, 2011 1:24 pm






Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)



Notice; Request For Information.



The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) is seeking information for its Virtual Data Access (VDA) project. The VDA project may be proposed under the FHWA's Office of Operations, Office of Planning, and Office of Operations R & D to demonstrate to the transportation community online access to existing and consistent transportation data through a virtual web portal.


The VDA project has been set up to create a prototype system where data will be shared and used by various agencies for regional transportation decision making, serving a broader transportation community.  The deliverable will be a tested and analyzed proof of concept framework for accessing and integrating transportation data to support planning for operations analyses. 



The Objective of this RFI is to seek broad stakeholder input and interest on the application of VDA system within the transportation community, identify potential impacts and benefits of using the VDA system, and gather information on tried, existing, and potential VDA system operations strategies. The information will assist the USDOT in identifying some of the barriers to deploying VDA systems, and will support the development of a VDA project. The USDOT may select various innovative and pioneering VDA operations strategies for further study. Moreover, entities (public agencies, private sector companies, and other organizations) associated with the selected VDA operations strategies may be asked to provide continued stakeholder input in the development of the VDA project.



Transportation data varies extensively across agencies.  Accordingly, regional planners and operations managers often lack readily accessible, shared, and well-documented data upon which to make decisions.  As a result and with each problem being addressed, these planners and managers must perform translations (often with dubious reliability) on an ad hoc basis within a limited time and at additional cost.  The process is extremely inefficient and the quality of decisions is potentially compromised. For example, multiple agencies within a region operate separately and maintain their own transportation facilities.  Each has different goals and objectives, different responsibilities, capabilities and operational needs.  Therefore, each may be collecting data, archiving it, and/or using it in real-time for different purposes and in different formats to meet their own local requirements and not the broader community or regional needs.  Each of these systems usually provides data at different levels of detail and do not communicate with each other.  In short, the state of the practice of planning and operations management lacks efficiencies and qualities that can readily be addressed by new tools and methods.


This project would address the current lack of accessible, shared, and well-documented data by improving efficiencies  in: 1) analyzing decisions in a more cohesive manner across entire regions; 2) understanding travel demand patterns across entire regions with jurisdictions interacting with each other; 3) determining performance measures for better performance management on entire regions; 4) validating regional travel demand models for robust analyses; 5) integrating analysis and modeling tools to better determine influence that operational strategies have on traveler behavior and decisions.


Data that is usually stored and hosted by its original owners would be selected and accessed by users through the use of web technologies such as virtual warehousing and data fusion.  Through metadata and other data documentation methods, these data will be automatically redefined, cleansed and translated so as to make them usable and understandable to the broader transportation community.  These technical capabilities would be supported by data sharing agreements and data documentation specifications.


By providing the broader transportation community with access to increasingly more data sources in a more usable fashion and covering regional transportation systems would enable: 1) more advanced and integrated analyses of the performance of those systems resulting in better decision making across entire regions; 2) real-time operators to be making more informed decisions, and provide better traffic control and traveler guidance, thus avoiding delays and congestion; 3) correlations and trends among events from several existing transportation systems to be available and used to improve operations; 4) decision support systems to be built on the knowledge gained from several transportation systems to improve operations.; 5) Origin-Destination O-D data that currently is questionable to be more easily validated; 6) operational tools to be integrated and used with planning tools thus advancing planning for operations and mainstreaming operations in the planning process.


Virtual Data Access (VDA) Issues


Responses to the following questions are requested to help FHWA gather and relate information on VDA operations strategies to facilitate identification of lessons learned, issues, and needs of VDA operations.


•1.                  Is a VDA approach needed for regional/statewide transportation decision-making and analysis

•i.        If yes, how are you currently using/integrating existing data sources for your regional/statewide analysis and decision-making

•ii.      How would a VDA approach benefit you in your regional/statewide analysis and decision-making  

•iii.    If not, please explain your opinion of why not.


•2.                  What should the role of FHWA be in enabling the development and operations of VDA for surface transportation

•i.        Based on the summary and background description above, is FHWA headed in the right direction with respect to VDA?

•ii.      Is this a role for the federal government?

•iii.    Once FHWA develops the prototype, what features would be required to make it transferable to other areas/regions?

•iv.    How likely would it be for the transportation community to expand and/or build on the initial FHWA effort?   


•3.                  Please provide a brief description of the VDA system or strategies that you have tried, are planning or have implemented to improve operations and decision-making in your agency or company. This system could be transportation related or non-transportation related.  Please address the following in your description:

•v.      Please briefly describe the agency or company and the specific problems that you were trying to solve.

•vi.    Please describe the process adopted for identifying the VDA solutions, including the use of any modeling or analysis tools to assist in the decision making process.

•vii.  Please describe the VDA systems that were tried, planned, or were implemented.

•viii.Please identify what agencies were (or are/will be) involved in the development, implementation, and operation of the system once the VDA systems are operational.

•ix.    Describe what were (or are/will be) the key challenges or issues, if any. Include how you resolved (or will resolve) these issues. Also, indicate how did (or will) the VDA systems facilitate the agency/company moving toward or reaching its performance goals. In particular: How did you measure (or are/will you be measuring) the performance of the VDA systems strategy? If the VDA systems have been implemented, how long has it been operating? What benefits do (or can) you expect or attribute to the VDA systems?

•x.      Please provide comments on what you learned and what you would do differently next time.


•4.                  Please provide comments regarding:

•i.        Current gaps in technology and  institutional and policy  barriers in the development and implementation of VDA systems

•ii.      Critical issues that need to be addressed by a proposed VDA project.

•iii.    New areas of research, development or analysis required to support a proposed VDA project.

•iv.    Thoughts and ideas that would be helpful in promoting more widespread implementation of VDA systems.


•5.                  If you are interested in becoming involved with the VDA project, articulate your criteria and requirements for participation. Please indicate if you would be willing to be contacted for a follow-up interview.


•6.                  Please provide your contact information so that FHWA may contact you for additional information on your responses.



Any person, company, organization, institution or public agency is invited to respond.  FHWA especially encourages users and researchers to specify their data requirements. Developers of analysis tools and models are encouraged to share their insights as well as address the possibilities of leveraging their products in a VDA environment.



Responses to this announcement should be submitted on or before  May 27, 2011. See the "Supplementary Information" section for electronic access.

 NOTE: This is neither a Request For Proposals nor an Invitation For Bids.



Dr. Gene McHale, (202) 493-3275,  and Dr. John Halkias (202) 366-2183 .   

Office hours are from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, except

Federal holidays.



Electronic Access

You may submit responses to either or Your responses are greatly appreciated, but the USDOT will not be able to acknowledge responses.



Organizations responding to this RFI shall designate a single contact within that organization for receipt of all subsequent information regarding this RFI.  Respond only to those points for which you or your organization have interest or expertise. Pre-existing documentation can be included, but should preferably be organized and presented in accordance with this RFI. It is recommended that your response include:

•§  A cover letter which should include a brief summary of your response, an indication of which areas you are responding to, and a short listing of any supporting documentation you are including in the response.

•§  Your formal response to any or all of the areas of information requested by this RFI.

•§  Appendices containing supporting documentation.



Please consult the list of document viewers if you cannot open a file.

Virtual Access RFI

Other (Draft RFPs/RFIs, Responses to Questions, etc..)
Virtual Access RFI
Posted Date:
May 3, 2011
RFI_VDA_v2.doc (59.50 Kb)
Description: RFI - Virtual Access Of Transportation Data
HAAM, Mail Stop E65-101
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, District of Columbia 20590
1200 New Jersey Ave., SE
Washington, District of Columbia 20590
United States
Robert B Robel,
Contracting Officer
Phone: (202) 366-4227
Fax: (202) 366-3705
Adams I JeanPierre,
Contracting Officer
Phone: 202-366-2044