Guide Home / 7. Information and Systems / 7.3 Asset Data Sharing, Reporting and Visualization / 7.3.2 Data Sharing

As with the design of reports and visualizations, designing a data sharing strategy should begin with an understanding of the different audiences for data and their needs. A variety of options for data sharing are available that can be employed. Table 7.5 outlines some of these options and suggests some questions to consider in selecting an appropriate option.

It is helpful to establish guiding principles for data sharing in order to achieve a consistent agency approach that provides maximum benefits in a cost-effective manner. Possible principles include:

  • By default, data should be shared unless it is sensitive, protected by law or if sharing it would pose unacceptable risks or cost burdens
  • Self-service methods of data sharing should be used when there is a relatively large pool of data users and data limitations can be readily communicated via standard metadata
  • Avoid proliferation of single purpose data sharing applications by adopting standard platforms where multiple data sets can be shared
  • When it is necessary to share the same data set through multiple channels, the source data should be stored in a single location or a single data refresh process should be used to reflect updates
  • The process of preparing data for sharing, reporting and visualization should be governed to ensure quality, ensure adequate documentation, and avoid inconsistency

Table 7.5 Data Sharing Options

Data Sharing OptionMost appropriate for...Considerations
On requestInternal or external data usersUse for uncommon, specialized requests requiring moderate to extensive effort to fulfill or where there is high potential for information misinterpretation or mis-use

For common information needs, use other methods to reduce staff time spent on fulfilling information requests.
Direct access to specialized asset management system (e.g. for pavement, bridges, culverts, etc.)Asset and maintenance specialists in the central office and field officesHelpful features include: ability to provide view-only privileges and ability to provide filtered views of information (e.g. restrict to a single district)
Direct access to enterprise asset management system (with information about multiple assets)Agency staff

Partner agency staff (e.g. MPOs, localities)
For partner agency access, ability to provide access outside of the agency firewall is needed.
Enterprise GIS with spatial open data portalInternal or external data usersIt is best to design separate maps geared to specific user types
May want to separate internal and external portals or restrict some specialized maps for internal use.
General open data portalInternal or external data usersConsider using available federal and state-level open data portals
May want to separate internal and external portals or restrict some specialized maps for internal use.
Data feeds/data services/Automated Programming Interfaces (APIs)Internal or external data usersMost suitable for real time data sets, data sets that are frequently updated, and complex data sets where flexible querying options are needed.
Data warehouse/data martAgency staffUse to create a cleansed and standardized data source for reporting/business intelligence.

Particularly helpful when historical/time series data is required, and direct access to data from source systems is problematic due to data quality, consistency or performance concerns.

Tabular data within the Data Warehouse can be joined with spatial data, as needed, within the Enterprise GIS.
Data lakeAgency data analysts/data scientistsUse to provide access to a heterogeneous collection of data including “big data” and unstructured data for research, modeling and analysis.
Content management systemAgency staff and partners (e.g. contractors)Use to provide access to a curated collection of content including engineering design drawings, asset maintenance manuals, contracts, etc.
Common data environment (CDE)Agency staff and partners (e.g. contractors)Use to provide a shared information repository for a construction project. CDEs typically include document management, collaboration and workflow features. CDE is one of the key elements of BIM practice defined by the UK’s Construction Industry Council.