Web-time Travelers' Aid
- By Bryant Jordan, Heather B. Hayes, Heather Harreld
- Apr 24, 2000
Government has information and lots of it. In fact, collecting information
is its business. Much of that information is in the public domain. The only
problem for Americans is knowing what's there, finding the specific information
and then making sense of it.
Some federal sites have done the work for the public and organized information
in such a way as to be really useful. The Federal Aviation Administration
is one such agency.
The FAA has shared information on airport delays internally and with
airlines and travel professionals, but has never made it easily available
to the public. That all changed this month when the agency unveiled a new
Web site designed specifically to give passengers real-time facts and figures
on airport-specific delays.
"We're not giving information on specific flights, but we are saying,
"This is the exact same information we're giving the airlines,'" said Tim
Grovac, manager of the Systems Requirements Branch at the FAA's System Command
Center in Herndon, Va. "It's an attempt to share the information with everybody
so there's no filter so to speak, and it is designed in part to reduce the
frustration that travelers experience when they are delayed."
The site, which receives 500,000 visitors weekly, features near-real-time
information on 40 major airports a number the FAA plans to increase to
more than 100. Users click on a map or use a pull-down menu to access information
on general departure and arrival delays at a specific airport as well as
delays at connecting destinations.
Because the information has been kept internal for so long, FAA technicians
building the site struggled most with eliminating technical jargon. "We're
still working at it actually," Grovac said. "We use whatever our command
center specialist types in as the reason for the delay, for example, and
sometimes that's rather cryptic. So we're trying our hardest to come up
with some translation tables that will spell out and simplify all these