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Michigan's Roadsoft Program Enables Local Agencies to Collect and Maintain Data, while Preserving Local Ownership and Control

Summary from Michigan Roadsoft Integration of State And Local Safety Data

Publication Year: 2014


Background

This case study, available as part of the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Integration of State and Local Safety Data project, describes Michigan's efforts to integrate local roadway data into their State data system.

This case study is part of a series of four. Each case study identifies a State's experience collecting local data, the challenges and obstacles faced and how they were overcome, benefits of the practices, reasons for success, lessons learned, and applicability of the practices to other agencies.

One way some States are enabling local agencies to collect and maintain data, while still preserving local ownership and control, is through centrally supported data models like Michigan's Roadsoft program. With Roadsoft, there is no centralized database of local data; local agencies receive a copy of the Roadsoft software to download and maintain locally. However, since Michigan applied a consistent linear referencing system to the local roads, and since most local agencies use the Roadsoft system, the similar structure and data definitions make it easier to share data when needed.

Michigan Technological University's Center for Technology and Training (CTT) developed Roadsoft for the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) as a standardized suite of data management and analysis tools in the early 1990s for local centerline mileage certification and pavement management. Before Roadsoft, local agencies had widely varied levels of access to IT support, software tools and analytic capability. Over time, MDOT and the CTT enhanced Roadsoft to cover a broader range of assets and planning and budgeting support, and to include features such as traffic and crash data for use in safety analysis.

The Roadsoft system meets most analysis needs at the local agency level, but more advanced analyses are not included in Roadsoft. To do such analyses, the local agency must create a data extract to import into any other analysis package. With funding from MDOT, the CTT also supports local agencies with training and analytic assistance. Local agencies are not required to use Roadsoft, though approximately two-thirds of local agencies do.

While MDOT provides Roadsoft to local agencies at no charge, it does not eliminate the costs of data collection. Still, Roadsoft does improve data quality by defining data collection standards, where applicable, within each module. Local agencies are only required to report standard roadway asset and pavement condition data to MDOT for the Federal aid-eligible portions of their network; however, the same standards apply to all data entered into the system. Additionally, Roadsoft has modules for managing a large number of assets and each module was created based on input from local agencies. To help with data collection, Roadsoft has an integrated, GPS-enabled, mobile data collection utility which links Google Maps and Street View, thus creating an inexpensive photo log.

Key Accomplishments:

The following are key accomplishments of Michigan's Roadsoft system:

  • Improved location references for crashes on local roads.
  • Consistent mapping and data standards for all local jurisdictions.
  • Data sharing among local, regional, and State agencies.
  • Efficient process for conducting safety analyses.
  • Comprehensive asset management capabilities.

Results:

The lessons learned from the Roadsoft effort are that long-term support, local agency control, and frequent, gradual, incremental updates, are the keys to Roadsoft's success. The CTT supports the incremental nature of Roadsoft development using a rapid prototyping model with frequent user testing to be sure that the final product meets local users' needs. Local users have a great deal of control over decisions regarding Roadsoft's enhancements—the Roadsoft Users' Group selects and approves each project. MDOT supports Roadsoft by funding the CTT's efforts and by supplying data.

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Contacts

Tim Colling, Director
Center for Technology & Training (CTT)
Michigan Technological University
906-487-2102
TKCollin@mtu.edu

Stuart Thompson
Federal Highway Administration
202-366-8090
Stuart.Thompson@dot.gov

Publication Year: 2014

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