7.3.2 Data Sharing


Data Sharing

There are many different ways to share information about assets, condition, performance, needs, and work. Agencies can select multiple distribution channels to serve both internal and external users.

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.


Washington, DC has established four levels of data. By default, data is considered to be open and shareable.

  • Level 0. Open (the default classification)
  • Level 1. Public, Not Proactively Released (due to potential litigation risk or administrative
  • Level 2. For District Government Use (exempt from the Freedom of Information Act but not
    confidential and of value within the agency
  • Level 3. Confidential (sensitive or restricted from disclosure)
  • Level 4. Restricted Confidential (unauthorized disclosure can result in major damage or injury)


VTrans shares their data with the public through the VTransparency Public Information Portal. The goal of the portal is to “turn data into useful information for our customers” and to “create tools for getting answers to some of the questions we get most often”. The VTransparency Portal features different tools for viewing specific data. These tools include:

  • Projects Map
  • Road Conditions
  • Plow Finder
  • Weather Cams
  • Maintenance Districts
  • Crash Fatality Report
  • Crash Query Tool
  • Find a Project
  • Daily Traffic
  • Highway Closures
  • Bridge Inspections
  • Pavement Conditions
  • Pavement Performance
  • Maintenance Work
  • Rail Asset Inventory
  • Rail Bridge Inspections
  • Rail Clearance
  • Rail X-ing Inspections

The VTransparency Portal also links to the Vermont Open GeoData Portal. This provides GIS map layers related to the various tools for people interested in doing their own analysis of VTrans data. VTrans holds to the principle of making data available by default unless it is sensitive. The agency values transparency with the public and welcomes feedback on the tools they’ve developed. The VTransparency Portal can be accessed at https://vtrans.vermont.gov/vtransparency