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U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration
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What is the Work Zone Data Initiative?

The Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Work Zone Data Initiative (WZDI) is developing a standard approach for collecting, organizing, and sharing data on the “when”, “where”, and “how” of work zone deployment—also called Work Zone Activity Data (WZAD). As a result of the project, there will be a structure in place for organizing the next generation of WZAD and data systems to enable local, regional, and national data sharing.

Why is it needed?

The WZDI was born in response to the need for, but lack of, a reference guide or standard on how to digitally describe and communicate dynamic work zone activities that take place on roads and highways.

Work zones are dynamic and involve many stakeholders to manage and maintain them. Many transportation agencies face the challenge of deciding how best to gather and share work zone activity information. At the same time, work zone information is becoming increasingly important for data-driven agency operations and maintenance. As a result, efforts point to the need for and use of WZAD.

Currently, WZAD collection is largely ad hoc and limited in scope to address specific agency needs. Accordingly, it is not easily shared outside of proprietary or agency-specific systems and is difficult to use for purposes other than which it was originally designed. A standardized approach is needed to lift these constraints and facilitate sharing of critical work zone-related information seamlessly across multiple jurisdictions, regions, and information delivery platforms, and to convey ongoing benefits and added value; wherein WZAD generated for one purpose will have enduring utility in many other applications. This is a necessary step to advance the work zone management state of the practice as we prepare for the next generation of transportation operations.

What are the benefits of standardization?

Broadly, standardized WZAD enables effective coordination of activities and enhanced mobility and safety in and around work zones. It meets specifications for content, structure, and format that ensure data are accurately interpreted when communicated to other jurisdictions and stakeholders. Specifically, the standardization of WZAD supports and enables:

  • Coordination of work zones between neighboring agencies to maintain traffic flow
  • Analysis of likely impacts and resulting enhancements of work zones on traffic safety and mobility
  • Monitoring of contractor compliance with contractual requirements and performance-based safety and mobility specifications
  • Sharing of work zone information with travelers and third-party traveler information providers
  • Coordination of enforcement activities with law enforcement agencies
  • Sharing work zone information with connected and automated vehicles

Who is involved?

The FHWA Work Zone Management Program is leading the WZDI. The project is focused on supporting the broad work zone stakeholder community of data providers and users. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Construction managers, planners, programmers, and operators responsible for collecting, documenting, maintaining, and using the data and associated databases
  • Government, industry, academia, and the traveling public; agencies with responsibility for optimizing work zone safety, mobility, and constructability
  • Analysts leveraging big data solutions to develop better solutions for traffic control
  • Vendors and manufacturers that develop connected hardware to facilitate vehicle-to-infrastructure networks
  • Private-sector traveler information services that track real-time event data in map applications

How can the Work Zone Data Initiative help you?

The WZDI consists of a series of work products to aid agencies with various levels of existing work zone activity data management practices. Through the use of these products, agencies are able to enhance their data management processes to enable better sharing of WZAD.

Work Zone Data System (WZDS) Framework. The backbone of the WZDI, this framework provides agencies with the tools to utilize a consistent language for communication WZAD across jurisdictional boundaries. Specifically, it helps agencies understand how users may communicate and use WZAD effectively. It presents key concepts for structuring WZAD and Work Zone Data Systems (WZDS) to support agency needs and provides a “menu of resources” agencies can pick and choose from to create their own WZDS.

Work Zone Data Exchange (WZDx) Specification. The USDOT’s WZDx is creating a basic work zone data specification to jump-start the voluntary adoption of a standard data fed by data producers (e.g., infrastructure owners and operators) and data users (e.g., 3rd party vendors).

Work Zone Activity Data (WZAD) Dictionary. A sister-document to the framework, the dictionary provides a comprehensive list of work zone data elements for consideration and serves as a backlog of data elements to add to the WZDx specification over time.

Pilot Testing. Select agencies across the country are piloting the use and sharing of standardized WZAD by implementing business processes via the WZDI framework coupled with a tailored version of the USDOT’s WZDx specification using the WZDI data dictionary.

Implementation Guidelines. Currently in development, this reference document provides implementable guidance for stakeholders on ways to improve their WZAD management practices through the use of the framework and data dictionary.

Contact Us

Interested in understanding your options for free personalized technical assistance, opportunities to get started using shared WZAD, or reference documents?

Contact Todd Peterson (todd.peterson@dot.gov), FHWA Work Zone Management Team Transportation Specialist and Project Manager for the WZDI.

Resources

Learn more about the WZDI: