Published on 21-Oct-2010
"Map displays integrated into the analysis solution are a significant improvement in the Transport Agency’s information services. The benefit for drivers is safer and more fluid travel, and for the Transport Agency it is more efficient operations." - Kristiina Laakso, Finnish Transport Agency
Finnish Transport Agency
Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Smarter Planet
Important requirements in selecting the reporting software were an open, service oriented architecture and integration with the Esri geographic information system. The Transport Agency also values the flexibility and the comprehensive reporting capabilities of the IBM Cognos solution.
The objective of the Finnish Transport Agency was to standardize and improve reporting and information distribution related to roadways. Another objective was to make better use of compiled data by analyzing it in a more intelligent way and displaying it on maps. In addition, the agency wanted to attach pictures of the road network to the information.
The new Tiira information tool makes use of IBM Cognos Business Intelligence, and combines previously separate data into a unified view. Integration of the IBM Cognos software and the Esri software makes it possible to switch from a report to a map.
The Transport Agency gets a unified view of information about roadways, their condition, bridges and accidents as well as their locations. The collected data is analysed and categorised. As a result, road maintenance and road safety can be improved as well as the agency’s own operations.
The Finnish Transport Agency is a government agency operating under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Transport and Communications and it is responsible for the maintenance and development of the transport system overseen by the government. The Finnish Transport Agency was formed on January 1, 2010 as the waterways function of the Finnish Maritime Administration, the Finnish Rail Administration and the central administration of the Finnish Road Administration merged.
The Finnish Transport Agency buys services related to the maintenance and development of motorways from outside contractors. Managing the contract bidding processes and the information related to them is a significant task in road maintenance. A road is never just a single, static entity that remains the same, but has a lifecycle during which it constantly changes. Comprehensive data about some 78,000 kilometres of roadways as well as about slip roads and light-traffic motorways is gathered in the Transport Agency’s databases. These databases include data about different classifications of roads and light-traffic motorways, and about equipment and devices such as railings, traffic signs and technical devices on the side of the road, special structures, maintenance contracts, surface conditions, rest stops, bus stops, bridges, accidents and traffic volume.
The idea of making more efficient use of data in various databases had been discussed at the Transport Agency for quite some time. In 2005, the agency started a project aimed at developing a reporting system for road management. The objective was to create a solution through which the user could get information from several different sources simultaneously and in a user-friendly form.
One challenge was the organisation’s siloed information. “Someone wanting information had to know how to access the necessary system and also know how to use that system. Combining information was difficult and required specialised expertise,” Transport Agency Project Director Kristiina Laakso says in characterising the initial situation. The problem was solved by building a data warehouse, into which data from different databases is gathered, and from which information is retrieved and combined as needed.
After going through a public tender, the IBM® Cognos® Business Intelligence solution was selected as the reporting software for the information tool named Tiira. Important requirements in selecting the reporting software were an open, service oriented architecture and integration with the Esri geographic information system.
“On our test track IBM Cognos was clearly the best. When evaluating solutions we used test tasks, which we were able to perform extremely flexibly with the IBM Cognos solution,” Laakso said.
The Transport Agency also values the comprehensive reporting capabilities of the IBM Cognos solution. “Standard reports serve the majority of users, but the system also has capabilities that allow the creation of reports using criteria's specified by the user. This allows users to make reports according to their own needs. Automatic display of reports is also an important feature.”
By using analytics the agency is able to identify potentially dangerous road sections and to use that information in road maintenance. Kristiina Laakso explains the intelligence of the Tiira information tool by using an example. “Previously information about, for example, bridges and accidents were in their own silos and were difficult to combine.
Now if a user needs information about accidents on bridges, Tiira makes it possible to display the data on a screen quickly and easily as a table or a graphic image. The user can see the locations of accidents on a map and link images to the data.” “The IBM Cognos analytic solution, with the integrated map visualization functionality, is a significant improvement in the Transport Agency’s information services. The benefit for road users is safer and more fluid travel, and for the Transport Agency it is more efficient operations,” Laakso continues.
The main target groups of the new system are the Transport Agency’s own personnel as well as external traffic and other experts. Through an extranet the information is also available for constituents such as contractors, consultants and other authorities.
Tiira has been used for contract tender processes since the beginning of 2010. Feedback from within the agency as well as from contractors has been positive, according to Kristiina Laakso. “The service has proven to be functional and provides good service for the users. Tiira has also brought data quality and timeliness issues to our attention. They must be fixed in order to get maximum benefit from the new system.”
In addition to unified reporting and ease of use, the Tiira system brings huge time and cost savings. It decreases the workload for the experts. Gathering information needed for one contract tender process previously took two to three weeks, but with the new solution the road network information is automatically reported and displayed on a map. More efficiency is expected when the ad-hoc reporting capability is utilized fully and the decision makers can make their own reports.
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Products and services used
IBM products and services that were used in this case study.
Cognos 8 Business Intelligence
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