Measures, indicators, metrics—these words are often used interchangeably, but the desired result is the same, to understand how various elements are functioning within a larger complex system. The MTS is a large and complex system, with hundreds of ports and thousands of vessels moving over 25,000 miles of commercially navigable channels in U.S. waters. Freight that travels along the MTS also commonly travels along one or more other transportation modes at some point on its journey from origin to destination. This means that road, rail, and pipeline networks are all connected to the MTS at various points around the country, and the condition of these other modes can affect operations within the MTS. Because it reaches from the water onto land, the MTS intersects with multiple environments, including the water column, the riverbed or seafloor (known as benthic areas), coastal zones, and the air. Researchers are working to understand how the MTS is performing in relation to these dynamic areas. Part of that research is presented in the form of MTS performance measures. Individual measures are grouped into the following categories: Economic Benefits to the Nation, Capacity and Reliability, Safety and Security, Environmental Stewardship, and Resilience.
The data for performance measures in these categories has been gathered from multiple Federal sources, including multiple CMTS partners. Because the original data collection efforts were part of various agency mission activities, such as regulatory enforcement, they were not designed to be used as performance measures. However, this project is designed to extract additional value from publicly available data in the spirit of “collect data once, and use it many times.” Other federal sources, as well, are likely to have MTS performance-related data that has not yet been released or made discoverable to interested parties. We hope that as more sources come online, it will be possible to expand and refine different performance measures to improve their utility to all MTS stakeholders.