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Defining Geotechnical Test and Performance Data for Asset Management and Accelerated Design Benefits


Geotechnical design, construction and performance monitoring are intimately tied to the collection, interpretation and delivery of geotechnical data. Unfortunately, data is often provided in an informational format that limits operational efficiencies and its future usefulness. Examples of “informational” include reports in PDF or Excel, etc. formats that cannot be readily transferred or applied for new interpretation without manual manipulation (cut and paste). In addition, little to no metadata is conveyed to identify the type, source and reliability of the data.

Access to historic data saves money and time for agencies by reducing the amount of new data required. Time and money is also saved when operational efficiencies are optimized through automation using standardized data structure. Further, the collation of consistently formatted and comparable data across regions will improve design efforts and establish performance expectations, practical measures and aid overall asset management.

Clear definition of data structures for transfer and storage is necessary for consistent, complete data independent of interpretation.


The research will develop industry consensus to expand the data dictionary for soil mechanics, structure installation, ground improvement, instrumentation, and potentially performance data sets based on industry needs. Further, this effort will ensure data structures are consistent with existing standards including ASTM, AASHTO testing procedures. Engaging industry interest groups will further ensure a complete and robust object structure for the benefit of transportation assets. The extent of the dictionary test features will be dependent on resources available but may include additional items described in the tasks.


Availability of usable data is critical to our ability to make future interpretations, manage existing features or assets, and accelerate future project delivery. Efficient collection, transfer, storage and retrieval of data for design, construction and asset management will save substantial time and money.

Related Research:

In 2006, a consortium of organizations, including Ohio DOT and FHWA, initiated the Data Interchange for Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Specialists (DIGGS) standardized schema, which was later revised as DIGGS V2.0 through Ohio DOT funding and in coordination with the Geo-Institute of ASCE. With these efforts complete, the Geo-Institute of ASCE now begins to administer an open-source data structure ready for practice. Currently, geotechnical and geologic test elements have been defined. As a result of limited resources, elements such as geoenvironmental, foundation installation and load testing have been provisionally removed from this system to expedite proof of function. Completion of the existing system and defining elements for subsequent development of the system to meet the needs of transportation agencies will require this funded effort.


  • Soil Properties: Density, moisture content and gradation to shear strength, unsaturated behavior, cyclic performance, compressibility, etc. There are approximately 45 tests included in the DIGGS Schema that require final vetting.

  • Structure Installation: Pile, drilled shaft installation, shallow foundation construction, grouting and ground improvement beneath structures and embankments, wall construction. Recent work on large diameter pipe piles, DTFH61-14-C-00036, reviewed and update the schema for pile load tests and demonstrates the value of data compilation and would serve as a baseline for this effort related to deep foundation load testing.

  • Performance: Long term management of assets will be dictated by their performance indicators. There is ongoing research to define key metrics of performance. As these indicators are defined (by others), they will be incorporated into the same data structure so that inter related evaluation of an asset can consider the full lifecycle of the structure and its components.

The deliverable for this work would be the online data dictionary. Although the goal will be to have a robust dictionary defined, the open source system would allow future expansion if required.


Implementation simply requires the data standardized structure to be used as standard practice, and can be achieved through requirements within guidance manuals and standards developed by FHWA and AASHTO, respectively. Maintenance and updating these data structures as required would be managed by the Geo-Institute of ASCE and vetted as needed by AASHTO subcommittees for adoption.


Without clear definition of data structure needs, ongoing and future geotechnical and asset management research may produce incomplete data sets and require repeated effort on subsequent projects or be of limited value to DOTs.

This study is supported and relevant to • Minnesota DOT • Ohio DOT • Missouri DOT • Louisiana DOTD • Louisiana Transportation Research Center • North Carolina DOT • New Hampshire DOT • Colorado DOT

Sponsoring Committee:AKG20, Soil and Rock Properties and Site Characterization
Research Period:24 - 36 months
Research Priority:High
RNS Developer:Mr. Christopher Merklin, Mr. Bradley Keelor, and Mr. Allen Cadden
Date Posted:03/21/2017
Date Modified:03/22/2017
Index Terms:Asset management, Data storage, Data collection, Geotechnical engineering, Performance measurement, Monitoring, Design,
Cosponsoring Committees:AKG10, Engineering Geology; AKG70, Foundations of Bridges and Other Structures
Data and Information Technology
Bridges and other structures

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