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Federal Bureau of Transportation Statistics Cuts Web Response Times to Seconds

by Jeff Butler
BTS creates a data warehouse called TranStats, powered by Sybase IQ Multiplex.

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) provides data, analysis, and consulting services to agencies such as the Federal Highway Administration, Maritime Administration, Federal Railroad Administration, and Federal Aviation Administration. Information gathered by BTS is also used by other federal agencies, including the Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics, as well as state departments of transportation, metropolitan planning organizations, universities, trade associations, the U.S. Congress, media, and the public at large.

“TranStats helps us provide information quickly to all of our constituents in state and federal government, and in private industry. TranStats has helped us reduce the amount of time required to process queries on larger files from minutes to seconds. That degree of performance is crucial if you are serving information over the Web.”

—Jeff Butler, Assistant Director of the Office of Statistical Computing, BTS

 

 

In the past, the process of collecting and compiling transportation data involved searching for data sources, contacting various data providers to get information about the data, and finally sorting through and integrating the data to do the analysis.

To make data more accessible to the entire transportation community, reduce the time needed for data gathering, increase the time available for analysis, and provide easy linkages across many data sets to enable transportation researchers and analysts to achieve new insights on transportation, BTS created a data warehouse called TranStats, powered by Sybase IQ Multiplex.

Jeff Butler, BTS Assistant Director of the Office of Statistical Computing, had a proven blueprint from which to begin the development of TranStats: Experience he gained in 1998 during the development of a similar data warehouse, for the Internal Revenue Service, powered by Sybase IQ and Sun Microsystems.

“My criteria in evaluating technology for TranStats were based on the high performance, ease-of-use, flexibility, scalability, ease-of-maintenance, reliability, and support I had experienced at the IRS,” explained Butler. “Prior to the development of TranStats, staff within the BTS were used to manually patching information together from various disparate systems.”

Butler was able to leverage previous experience with Sybase IQ and Sun hardware in developing and demonstrating the benefits of the TranStats system. In just its first quarter of deployment, it became evident that the BTS TranStats business intelligence solution was a success, averaging more than 15,000 Web hits per day.

“We are able to economically serve the needs of our users and have a simple, manageable environment that enables IT to meet ever changing information needs,” said Butler. “Loading and indexing data, which used to take hours, now requires 30 minutes in our new TranStats model.” Butler has also been able to improve statistical analysis performance with TranStats, improving SAS’s ability to return queries on larger files, for example, from one to two minutes to one to two seconds in some instances. “For Web-based solutions, results in seconds are powerful,” says Butler.

“TranStats helps us provide information quickly to all of our constituents in state and federal government, and in private industry,” Butler explained. “TranStats has helped us reduce the amount of time required to process queries on larger files from minutes to seconds. That degree of performance is crucial if you are serving information over the Web.”

Jeff Butler -

Jeff Butler is the Assistant Director of the Office of Statistical Computing, BTS.