Improving knowledge for a better management of the European strategic road networks is essential for ensuring the sector is contributing effectively to play its key role in Europe. In order to improve the efficiency of research activities contributing to the creation of knowledge, the National Road Administrations (NRAs) in charge of the road networks have developed a cooperating approach based on the identification of existing solutions, or the design of collaborative projects if solutions are not yet available.
The Road Research Access Facility (RRAF) is designed to assist in this process, as described below.
The European strategic road networks are typically managed through public assets and operated by National Road Administrations, responsible for their performance (traffic safety, traffic management, construction, maintenance and operation). The European National Road Administrations have established CEDR, the Conference of European Directors of Roads, to coordinate their activities around three domains in line with the life-cycle of the road network: management, construction and operation.
Management includes improving knowledge in all fields of road activities and the focus is on developing a framework that allows the research activities of the NRAs to be combined in the most effective way, thereby contributing to sustainable mobility for the benefit of society, the economy, and the environment. Transnational cooperation is seen as the most cost effective way to obtain research results, and CEDR initiated ERA-NET ROAD to promote and develop transnational road research activities.
Under the ERA-NET ROAD project, partner NRA have developed a toolkit for transnational cooperation based on a four-step approach:
- determine whether a solution already exists and, if so, adopt existing solution
- if not, consider whether the problem should be addressed at the European level, if so, set up a collaborative European project
- if this is not appropriate, consider whether it should be addressed at the sub-European level e.g. the Alpine countries, if so, set up a collaborative project between the countries in the area
- if none of the above apply and the problem is limited to national interest then national funding should be employed.
The RRAF has been designed to facilitate this process, by providing better insight into the planned, ongoing and finished road research activities at regional, national and European level of other road administrations and knowledge centres.
To that effect, RRAF will collect information from existing databases maintained by NRA and knowledge centres, and provide the accompanying search and syndication tools to facilitate the four-step approach, enabling the identification of institutions and persons concerned by similar topics and issues.
RRAF functionalities include:
- advance search engines through projects (complete, ongoing, planned) collected from existing databases
- community tools (forums, news, events)
- reporting tools (subscription to search results)
- native language access