FHWA provides experience procuring and using emerging data from third parties.
Crowdsourced incident and congestion data is any such data willingly and intentionally generated and reported by members of the public who get something in return for their contributions. Crowdsourced data can be timelier than agency generated data due to the higher probability of travelers coming across an incident or encountering congestion than an agency detecting it via its sensors, cameras, and field patrols.
When procuring crowdsourced data or services, agencies will need to exert considerable effort to ensure proper communication of the agency’s needs to bidders. When agencies develop procurement documents for new data and services, two approaches are typically used.
- Agencies develop a detailed set of system requirements that identify high-level system design and functions. This approach requires a major up-front level-of-effort on behalf of the agency and may result in tunnel vision.
- Agencies require contractors to identify functions and high-level system design as part of the contract prior to beginning work. This approach will likely require greater dialog with bidders during the source selection process and during the initial stages of the project.
Both options have their advantages; however, the second approach typically results in an end-state that is more favorable to the agency.
The requirements for the use of specific technologies or techniques to collect and deliver data, however, should be left out of a request for proposal (RFP). Development of new technologies, methodologies, and tools happens both quickly and often, and requiring outdated technologies can result in artificial limits being placed on the agency and the consultant as they work to perform analytical tasks. It is generally better practice to allow data or service providers to drive these decisions based on what they perceive to be the most efficient and effective tools and methods at the time of delivery.