Week of July 10, 2000
  Editor's Choice Web Pick
   of the Week

ITA Site: A Gold Mine for Info
on Global Transportation Infrastructure


It's long been a major business location factor. And with the groundbreaking work of the International Development Research Council (IDRC) in Corporate Infrastructure ManagementTM, internal infrastructure has become a major focus within the real estate industry.

This week's Web site, though, concerns old-fashioned physical infrastructure - specifically transportation infrastructure. It's the U.S. Dept. of Commerce's Transportation Infrastructure site (www.ita.doc.gov/td/transport/trans.htm). The site is maintained by the Commerce Dept.'s International Trade Administration (ITA), and it's a good one.

First, unlike far too many other U.S. government Web sites, this one has its focus set squarely outside American borders. That's significant for a host of real estate players, particularly those who want to contend for a slice of the action on major transportation projects. The site may also be a boon to other firms with an ear to the ground for how major transportation projects may present major market opportunities or options to improve their logistics systems. The site notes that its mission is "to help U.S. business succeed globally." And, in a note that most globalism-bashers will probably chose to conveniently ignore, the site notes that "one out of every 10 Americans owes his/her job to exports."

But since this is the boundary-less Web, the site certainly isn't limited to Americans. And neither is its value.

Projects in 36 Nations

Here's what you'll find at the ITA site.

Its information doesn't cover the world. It does, however, cover a lot of it. During our test drive, we found projects listed for 36 countries, ranging from Argentina to Singapore. We clicked on China, arguably the world's hottest market for infrastructure development. As you might expect, we found reams of data.

The China information reflects how the site lays out its data for all the countries it covers: The info begins with a clickable "Overview" of the basics of the country's transportation sector, as well as a clickable overview of the nation's "Finance and Economy."

From there, users will find individual project information. The project information is broken down into aviation projects, port projects, expressway projects, rail projects, and projects in transportation/distribution services. Each of those sections begins with a clickable overview of the national market for that type of project.

Individual projects contain detailed project descriptions, including what are described as "opportunities for U.S. firms" (but are, in fact, opportunities for almost any worldwide player).

Some companies may also find a lot of value in each project's list of "possible import products." Those lists are often quite lengthy and detailed (and that should be considered praise for the site's diligence in information gathering). Each project also includes a U.S. consulate contact.

Making Sense of the Market

One of the site's major strengths is how it attempts to make sense of the market situation. Online content outlines individual nations' positions on foreign participation, as well as limning the particulars of both domestic and foreign competition.

In addition, the site has a link that explains some of the federal export assistance programs available to U.S. companies. In addition, you'll find links to related U.S. federal and state agencies, and to U.S. trade associations. There's also a direct link to an ITA employee to answer "questions concerning transportation infrastructure projects."

But much of the rest of the site's information can be useful to companies regardless of in which nation they're headquartered.

For example, the site lists a number of important governmental contacts in the nations it covers. In addition, many non-U.S. firms (as well as U.S. ones) are listed that are already major players in individual markets, which opens up possibilities for knowledge sharing.

Emphasis on Content, Not Razzmatazz

If you're looking for visual razzmatazz, you won't find it here. The emphasis, correctly, is on content, not graphics.

The site also navigates smoothly, particularly considering the volume of data that it has online. (And in that respect, the minimal graphics help.)

Are we sure that every major transportation project of interest is listed in the nations this site covers? No, we're not.

That's no reason to quibble, though. This site is the best we've seen at gathering data on, as well as making sense of, the voluminous number of major projects now underway in global transportation infrastructure.

This is the kind of site that you don't mind your tax dollars funding.



©2000 Conway Data, Inc. All rights reserved. Data is from many sources and is not warranted to be accurate or current.