Updated LTPP Products Online
Why do some pavements perform better than others? To find out, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) launched the Long-Term Pavement Performance (LTPP) program, building on research started in the 1980s. More than 25 years later, the program continues to investigate various designs, pavement structures, materials, environments, and maintenance practices -- with the objective of increasing pavement life. FHWA researchers created an information management system to house the collected data, and today this relational database contains more than 600 tables.
Accessing these data, research findings, and related products just got easier. FHWA recently unveiled the improved "LTPP Products Online," with a fully updated version of LTPP DataPave Online. The Web site enables users to view and extract data in a faster, easier-to-navigate environment.
"LTPP Products Online 2.0 with DataPave Online is a huge improvement over the original version," says Antonio Nieves Torres, a concrete pavement engineer with FHWA's Office of Infrastructure. "It is much more user friendly. More data are displayed, and the selection process for downloading data is much more comprehensive than before."
Expanded Data, Enhanced Navigation
DataPave Online, the original site's flagship and the primary means of accessing raw data, is completely updated and features an intuitive user interface for simpler navigation and easy extraction of data. One new feature is the integration of images of pavement distress from LTPP test sites, previously available only by special request. The LTPP program also updated the navigation map on the Web site using the latest GoogleTM mapping capabilities including aerial and zoom views to make it easier for users to find and examine test sites.
The data summary sheet was expanded to provide a more detailed and useful overview of the LTPP test sites selected by the user. The site integrates the Distress Viewer and Analyzer application -- originally a stand-alone application that displayed images, videos, and other data from pavement distress surveys of LTPP test sites.
A new function of DataPave Online is "Export by Topic," which enables users to explore the LTPP data by topic, selecting multiple data elements and viewing the number of available records before downloading. Researchers can refine an export selection, such as traffic data, by filtering by increasingly specific subtopics like traffic counts, then heavy trucks per day.
The updated LTPP Reference Library is now completely searchable using keywords. The system upgrade also integrates the LTPP data directly with the library. When a user selects data elements to export, the site generates a list of related materials from the library, such as books, articles, and product briefs.
The site also boasts improved performance with bandwidth doubled from 3 to 6 megabits per second, providing faster access times for videos, images, and maps.
"These Web site enhancements are especially valuable to the research community," says Shelley Stoffels, associate professor of civil engineering and director of the Larson Institute Transportation Infrastructure Program at Penn State University. "The improvements in search, retrieval, and display all facilitate the research process and provide users with a much improved tool. They also serve to make the data much more accessible to students at all levels, helping to educate a future generation of highway engineers."
InfoPave: The Next-Generation LTPP Interface
To further improve the user experience and ease of access to LTPP data, and to stay at the forefront of technology advancements, the LTPP team recently awarded a contract to develop the next-generation Web interface: LTPP InfoPave. This program will expand and replace LTPP Products Online. When launched, InfoPave will be the focal point of the LTPP program, providing user-friendly Web access to the LTPP data on demand, with tools to maximize utilization and user understanding. FHWA expects to release InfoPave to the public in January 2014 at the Transportation Research Board's annual meeting.
Kate Sullivan is a contributing editor for Public Roads.