Decision Support Systems for Performance-Based TSMO: TRB Workshop Accelerates Exploration

The principles and technologies of Decision Support Systems (DSS) are being innovatively adapted to advance Transportation Systems Management & Operations (TSMO).  Specific examples and associated concepts and opportunities were explored for the second year in a row at a TSMO DSS Workshop at the TRB Annual Meeting.  The workshop highlighted how Connected Data Systems and other emerging sources of data for transportation operations are both enabling and challenging our capacity for performance-based TSMO.  DSS evolved in the last half of the 20th Century as a computer-based set of data management and analytical tools to integrate and adapt experiential information to guide and facilitate decision-making, particularly in the context of loosely structured or rapidly changing problem-solving applications.  DSS have been developed in finance, health, and other industries for both active “real-time” operational applications as well as more strategic corporate and business management applications.

The TSMO DSS Workshop at TRB began with a panel that discussed the application of DSS to traffic management systems and Integrated Corridor Management.  A second panel discussed the prospective value of DSS in broader applications to TSMO performance management and organizational management applications in both agency and multi-agency Megaregional corridor settings.  Broader discussion within the workshop illustrated the need to proactively integrate artificial intelligence, cloud-based computing solutions, Big Data analytical techniques, and human factors and psychological dimensions of decision-making into further development of DSS for TSMO.  In addition, better understanding of the distinction between DSS and Business Intelligence (BI), and broader educational partnership with the business data and analytics industry are needed.

The TRB Regional TSMO, Freeway Operations, and Surface Transportation Weather Committee plan to continue to partner with the National Operations Center of Excellence and the AASHTO Subcommittee on TSMO to further explore and evolve the application of DSS within TSMO.  Future initiatives will build on concepts being defined through NCHRP problem statements, and may also include webinars and peer exchanges.