Transport Research Databases - Modern and Efficient Tools to Enhance European and International Collaborations
Cristian Ulianov Corry Gellatly Mark Robinson George Kotsikos
The cooperation between transport researchers has significantly increased into the European Research Area in the last two decades, with their involvement in European Frameworks for research. The number of organisations and researchers involved in collaborative research activities has exponentially increased, and also the number of European and, in some cases, nationally funded projects related to transport topics. This increased cooperation in transport research, both at European and International level, has revealed the importance of having a good strategy for research data management.
It is becoming increasingly clear that certain information can be valuable when searching for potential research partners, including expertise, previous research projects and collaborations, research interests and publications. It follows that the ready availability of this information, combined with advanced methods for searching and filtering the information provides an essential advantage in developing new successful research projects and carrying out related research activities.
NewRail research centre is involved in ongoing efforts to collate information concerning transport research and develop more efficient data management and data access, employing modern methods and techniques. Building on the expertise achieved with two previous EU projects (ERRAC Roadmap and TransNEW), the work is continued within the project HERMES, which aims to establish a common portal for accessing information from databases of past and ongoing transport research projects worldwide.
The paper presents the relevant methodologies and tools which have been employed in past transport research data management activities, and also an overview of the work planned within the new, ongoing project. The benefits of relevant results already achieved are also highlighted.
The existing databases gathered and made public relevant transport research information regarding:
- Researchers involved in transport research (names, contact data, expertise, areas of interest, etc.)
- Organisations active in transport research (names, addresses, expertise, domains, etc.)
- Research projects (national, European, and private funded)
The technical difficulties encountered in these projects include, for example:
- Bridging the gap in technical expertise between those tasked with different aspects of data collection, retrieval and management;
- Ownership of datasets and the challenge of keeping datasets current;
- Working with many different languages, in terms of data searching, filtering and storage, and in terms of the language of the end-user.
A number of the technical difficulties have been solved with the application of open source software technologies. In particular, the MySQL database and PHP programming language form the core of the transport research databases that have been developed. The advantage of using these technologies is that they are powerful and integrate with many other technologies, including Java, XML and Content Management Systems such as Joomla, which provide diverse functionalities and solutions to issues such as language translation or accessibility.
Association for European Transport