DOT gives users free ride to online research data

DOT gives users free ride to online research data

By Tony Lee Orr

GCN Staff

Innovative technology can help solve the nation's transportation problems, Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater said recently before helping department officials unveil a new online database of transportation information.

The database, Transportation Research Information Service Online, gives the public access to more than 400,000 records of published and ongoing transportation research.

TRIS Online is a component of the National Transportation Library's Web site, at ntl.bts.gov. TRIS Online is also accessible at tris.amti.com/search.cfm.

'Anyone having anything to do with transportation would benefit from this Web site,' said Ashish Sen, director of the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, which maintains the database and makes it available on the Internet as part of the library's online programs.

The Transportation Research Board, with input from state and federal agencies, developed TRIS Online, officials said during the board's 79th annual meeting.

At last year's meeting, Transportation officials agreed to provide public access to the data through the Web. The library staff responds to 25,000 e-mail messages and telephone inquiries annually.

Access to the system is free.

A $250,000 congressional appropriation funded the project, said Cynthia Sparkman, who manages TRIS Online.

Transportation library staff members are scurrying to fill the virtual stacks. The library adds new documents to the system daily, Sparkman said. The goal is to have more than 20,000 new records available online by July.

Each month, about 100 new research documents will be added to the system, Sparkman said. Within three years, more than 70 percent of government reports listed at TRIS Online are expected to be available for download or printing, or via e-mail.'TRIS Online includes full-text reports, or a link to the publishers or suppliers that produced the original document, she said.

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