Overseas News on Civil Engineering IT
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Website name:
Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) -
Research and Innovative Technology Administration

URL: http://www.bts.gov/

This section focuses on a unique overseas website related to civil engineering IT. This issue features "the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS)," which belongs to the Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) coordinating the U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT) research programs and advancing innovative technologies.

Developing Data and Information on Transportation Statistics of High Quality to Aim at Effective Uses in Public and Private Decision Making Processes
According to its website, BTS started as a statistical agency in 1992. It was established under the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) of 1991, aiming to administer data collection, analysis, and reporting and to ensure the most cost-effective use of transportation-monitoring resources.

In 2005, BTS became a part of RITA; since then, BTS has been contributing to bringing together important data, research and technology transfer assets of DOT together with organizations concerned such as Volpe National Transportation Systems Center and Transportation Safety Institute (TSI).

The Safe Accountable, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) is BTS' basic authorizing legislation, in which BTS is approved of $27 million each year for a five year period (2005-2009). Its source of revenue is appropriated by a portion of the Highway Trust Fund, and is administered within the Research and Development account under the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

Especially, BTS' data collection program for aviation was authorized under separate legislation enacted on the occasion the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) closed. This program is a mandatory data collection, so the Wendell Ford aviation Investment Reform Act (AIR-21) authorized funding for the airline information program from the Airport and Airways Trust Fund (AATF), although it has never been allocated yet.

BTS declares itself to be policy-neutral-an objective broker for the facts as a statistical agency. Covering all of transportation, it also serves all the other modes to help them be more effective and efficient in addition to independent data collection and analysis. Furthermore, BTS sets standards for transportation data; on the other hand, it retains special statutory protections for the confidentiality of data they collect. Thus it fulfills unique functions in statistics, economics, information technology, geographic information systems, and transportation.

The main purpose for which BTS works is to promote the DOT Strategic Plan (2003-2008) and A Strategic Plan for Transportation Statistics (2003-2008). At the same time, BTS takes aim at estimating future needs and policy issues. Therefore, BTS develops data and analyses as they apply to those goals for transportation statistics with emphasis. A public accounting of performance of the previous "A Strategic Plan for Transportation Statistics (2000-2005)" is described in the BTS Performance Report (2001-2005), which we can read via the website to get the real state of things.

BTS has established its activities with a focus in three key areas, which are mandated by legislation: 1) compiling, analyzing, and publishing a comprehensive set of transportation statistics; 2) making statistics readily accessible; and 3) implementing a long term data collection program.

"Data and information of high quality will support every significant transportation policy decision, thus advancing the quality of life and economic well being of all Americans," BTS states as the vision. In addition, BTS carries the mission on the website to lead in developing transportation data and information of high quality, and to advance their effective use in both public and private transportation decision-making.

Top page: Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS)
Research and Innovative Technology Administration(Reprinted by courtesy of BTS)

Various outputs of research and analysis from "Data and Statistics" (Reprinted by courtesy of BTS)

Allowing Views and Searches of Transportation-Related Information that Corresponds to Diversified Transport Modes and Subjects

The top page of the website simply lays out major menu items to provide users with easy access to the item corresponding to each one's purpose. Especially, popular sections such as Recent Releases, Airline Industry, Featured Publication, Popular Links, Freight Data and Statistics, and Transportation Economics are partially indicated on the top page to gain direct access.

The top of the menu is Data and Statistics, in which different transportation modes (e.g. Aviation, Maritime, Highway, Rail, etc.) and a wide variety of subjects (e.g. Safety, Freight Transport, Passenger Travel, Infrastructure, Economic/Financial, Social, Energy, Environment, National Security, etc.) are combined so that users can grasp from each point of view the actual situation of dynamic transportation including time-series transition.

Next one, National Transportation Library, is a virtual library for the transportation community. It links together the websites of the Department of Transportation from the fifty United States and the District of Columbia. Using a search tool, integrated searches can be performed for documents, reports, and articles regarding transport technology or policies, from among abundant resources.

This article is written based on the above website with the permission of BTS