Deep within the US Department of Transportation Federal Highway Adminstration Transportation Performance Management Resources Website (the USDoTFHWATPMRW) there is a remarkable and comprehensive primer of Data Integration. This How-to-Integrate-Data Guide discusses a wide range of topics including everything from Requirements Analysis to Data and Process Flow Modeling as well as Data Models and Data Standards.
It also contains a list of 9 Key Questions to ask when analyzing existing data and database systems within an organization might include:
- Where do the data come from and who collects it?
- How often, and how, are the data collected?
- What reference system or systems are used?
- What is the structure, format, and size of the data?
- How are the data currently transmitted, processed and stored?
- What is the general quality of the data? Is it accurate? Complete? Recent? Unique or redundant?
- How are the data used-in what business processes?
- What applications draw data from the databases (e.g., bridge management system, pavement management system)?
- What types of reports are produced currently? What types are needed?
It concludes with the following summary: “This Primer describes requirements analysis, data and process flow modeling, alternatives evaluation, detailed database design, software development, and implementation. Application of each of these methodologies help ensure the most successful possible outcome for a data integration initiative. Within various stages of this complex process, a few general guidelines serve an agency well:”
- Use a data environment that best supports making changes in database functions or adding new data sets.
- Adopt an incremental development approach to assure the maximum flexibility for inevitable change and evolution, and to provide sufficient time to test and upgrade integrated databases.
- Involve database users in every stage of design and development to benefit from their input and to assure their cooperation and buy-in.
- Select hardware and software that meet the goals of data users, the agency, and the database management system.
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