GIS-T 2017 Recap - The Frontier of Excellence

GIS-T 2017

Hosted by the Arizona Department of Transportation, the 2017 GIS Transportation Symposium’s theme was “The Frontier of Excellence”. From asset management and safety analysis to how spatial technologies can be used with autonomous vehicles, this year’s conference topics spanned a breath of more traditional subjects to cutting-edge ideas and trends.

Here’s a look at a few of the major topics.

Enterprise Linear Referencing and Inventory Management
In the roll call of state, there were 31 Department of Transportations (DOT) that stated they are either investigating, piloting, or implementing a system that integrates linear referencing and inventory management systems. Traditionally, these systems have been maintained by the same department - predominately planning - but have never been truly integrated. When a route changes, all of the data in the inventory management system automatically reflects that change. Systems have now evolved to have business rules that govern how the event data is effected based on the type of change to the route (i.e. realignment, lengthening, and re-designation). In addition, the new approaches to inventory management utilize tools such as database gateways and web services to notify the operational units there has been a change to a route. This enables the enterprise to be synchronized on a single source of the truth and reduces the amount of time necessary to maintain the inventory database.

All Roads Network of Linear-referenced Data
A second area that was of significance is the DOT’s collective effort to create statewide networks in accordance with federal guidelines. All Roads Network of Linear referenced Data (ARNOLD) is the enablement of all public roads into an enterprise linear referencing system for each DOT. These are aggregated up into a nationwide LRS for all roads. For instance, Indiana DOT is using the data collected in the ARNOLD initiative as the basis for its network redevelopment initiative. Arnold has requirements for dual centerline representations, ramp and frontage road inclusion, and correct intersection topology. These are all essential elements of Indiana DOT’s network redevelopment effort. The effects of ARNOLD also extend to the ongoing maintenance of a state’s network.  Arizona DOT designed a statewide program to promote collaboration and foster improvements on the quality of roadway data. This includes a transactional update tool, better feedback by all participating agencies regarding data quality, and simplification in number of steps in the update workflow. These factors have increased the productivity and ROI in maintenance of the statewide network. Another example of how ARNOLD requirements drove updates of statewide road networks is the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD). They collaborated with the Arkansas GIS Office, who maintains the 9-1-1 network, to create a statewide LRS enabled 9-1-1 network. It’s based on the same set of standards, eliminates redundant tasks and creates one official version of the truth for the statewide network. AHTD migrated the old system from single to dual carriageways, added ramps and frontage roads, and included institutional routes. The local roads included dual carriageways, paved and unpaved roads, which were all LRS enabled. The next effort will be standardizing the update process. Even though ARNOLD has impacted the DOT’s way of doing business, it has provided them a more accurate and reliable source of truth on roadway data.

Asset Management
The final topic is an oldie but goody. Asset management was an important topic at the conference. It had a designated workshop and nine different presentations. Asset management permeates every aspect of a DOT and that’s why it had such a prevalent role at this year’s GIS-T. The range of topics included:

  • Iowa’s tools for weather and winter management
  • The usage of consumer drones to collect data
  • Spatially enabled culvert design
  • Maryland’s asset management dashboard for pavement and bridge planning
  • Georgia’s striping program to avoid conflicts with resurfacing and pavement projects
  • Michigan’s enterprise asset management system, which integrates multiple systems together

The key takeaway from many of these presentation was that performance-based asset management has become one of the top priorities for DOTs.

Most of these topics have been discussed at past GIS-T. However, it seems the more things change (technology, federal legislation, etc.) the more things stay the same (due more with less). In my years of working in the transportation industry, DOT’s are quickly moving  pass the days of being design and construction centric agencies to maximizing the performance of their highway systems.

If you would like to learn more about how DOT’s are using technology to overcome some of today’s biggest transportation challenges, sign up for our June 6 webinar, “Routing OS/OW Vehicles Safely Through the U.S. Capital.”


Bruce Aquila
About Bruce Aquila

Bruce Aquila is a senior transportation consultant for Hexagon Safety & Infrastructure and has been with the company for 33 years. He currently works in the Transportation Business Development group where he is responsible for technical business development, consulting, industry conference presentations and product requirement collection. Aquila works exclusively with State DOTs, Metropolitan Planning Organizations, local governments, and transit agencies in the areas of linear referencing, network and data modelling, and surface transportation analysis applications.

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