Data Integration in CLEAR: New York State’s Safety Management Tool
To help prevent crashes, eliminate fatalities, and reduce the severity of injuries, state and local departments of transportation have applied robust safety management programs. As technologies and data systems have advanced, New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) recognized the need to update its safety management system, and developed the Crash Location and Engineering Analysis Repository (CLEAR). Researchers conducted a case study of this safety management system which aimed to improve data integration, increase user access, and enhance the current safety management methods and processes used by the department. The objective of CLEAR was to replace three existing NYSDOT legacy systems and to enhance safety analysis workflows, reinforce existing safety analysis standards, and increase user access to advanced analytical tools. CLEAR includes the following modules:
- Crash Geocoding (the number of crashes in an area)
- Safety Application (for identifying sites that need improvement)
- Data Viewer (for query and analysis)
The system also supports the transfer of crash data between the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles and NYSDOT.
- Document data governance policies and processes for future users. Communicating and coordinating with different data and system owners is required to ensure successful data integration and enable an easy and standardized method to access and analyze crash data.
- Create an iterative process for the development of the system by keeping communication lines open with other business units and engage with other divisions within the department. It is important keep in constant communication with other divisions within and outside the department, such as planning, design, and traffic engineering, to help integrate safety throughout the project development process. It is essential to involve all related divisions by demonstrating user interfaces and workflows and gathering feedback for constant refinement and redesign of the new system.
- Collaborate with executive-level management to receive support for developing an updated safety management system. The Bureau Director had a high level of understanding of the importance of data, and served as a champion for updating legacy systems with new technology and tools. This continuous knowledge transfer between administrators and system end users is essential for similar tools used by other transportation agencies.
- Use mobile applications specifically designed for use in the field to provide live access to data. Field applications were designed to provide access to maps, data, and services when an internet connection is available. If internet connectivity is not available, mobile applications will still be able to “virtually see” geographic features within an area of interest, through pre-loaded geographic features that enable offline map viewing and editing support.
- Engage local partners to enhance safety data availability. Conducting safety analyses at local roads can be problematic due to limited data availability. NYSDOT engages in several data collection initiatives that enable local partners to collect traffic volume data that support more robust analyses.