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Spring 2005
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Increased Productivity, Improved Decision Making, and Cost Savings

The Delaware Department of Transportation Manages Spatial Data Better With Online GIS

By Brian Smith, Project Manager, and Quinn Dinsmore, Communications Coordinator, GeoDecisions

Located in the heart of the busy northeast corridor, Delaware provides a variety of urban, suburban, and interstate roadways, bridges, and supporting infrastructure for its citizens and welcomes hundreds of thousands of travelers and commercial vehicles that pass through the state each day. Most of that pass-through traffic occurs on the I-95 freeway in northern Delaware; the SR1 toll road in southern Delaware; and on commercial rail, air, and nautical modes of transportation.

  click to enlarge
DelDOT's INFORM gives users the ability to select multiple themes. In the example above, the user is looking at a number of different bus routes with associated bus stops.

Although Delaware is a small state, it has more than 11,000 lane miles of roads and an increasingly coordinated network of transit, rail, air, nautical, walking, and biking options. The state has chosen to invest first in the most critical miles of roadway infrastructure and to concentrate all other investments according to state, local, and regional long-range plan strategies. The overarching goal of the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) is to utilize technology effectively to improve the quality of transportation statewide.

Like transportation agencies across the country, DelDOT relies on GIS technology to integrate, analyze, and display spatial data. For transportation professionals at DelDOT, GIS is a powerful tool utilized to construct and analyze transportation networks; conduct impact assessments; and create visual representations of assets, project locations, and transportation feature layers.

Although DelDOT had embraced GIS technology in its day-to-day operations, the department needed a more cost-effective and interactive application to handle its ever-increasing volume of spatial data. With a goal to transition from a highly technical client-based GIS application to a more user-friendly system, DelDOT began to explore the possibility of implementing a new Web-based application.

As the GIS professionals at DelDOT set out to select a new system, they first considered its diverse user group. While the majority of users would not perform extensive GIS functions, they would still need to access the department's spatial data on a daily basis. Accordingly, an easy-to-use Web application that required little to no training or software plug-ins for client machines was necessary.

Members of DelDOT's GIS group also considered the training that would be available with a new system, the software upgrades that would be provided, the difficulty of integrating the new application, and its level of functionality.

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The image shows the user interface and customized legend.

After considering all of DelDOT's needs, the GIS group chose ArcIMS and ArcSDE 9 to develop the network because of the software's timesaving functions, display capabilities, and easy-to-use applications. The reliability of Esri products in delivering spatial data, as well as their potential to integrate data with other state agencies, also influenced the decision making process.

Once DelDOT selected the Esri suite, it teamed with longtime Esri Business Partner GeoDecisions (Camp Hill, Pennsylvania) to develop the Information Network for Online Resource Mapping (INFORM). This enterprisewide GIS application was designed to bring spatial information to DelDOT's everyday business processes in a more timely and efficient manner.

The Application

INFORM allows users to query and find strategic data that is essential for Delaware's operations. "This data was available before, but it wasn't easily accessible," explains Don Burris, DelDOT's manager of Transportation Assets and Engineering Systems. "With INFORM, the data is found at one location, most data can be accessed with three simple mouse clicks, and everyone within DelDOT is now looking at the same data set."

The application was built on the latest ArcIMS platform with ArcSDE 9 and Oracle9i powering the data. The application utilizes ArcSDE and ArcIMS to display and store spatial information. It also uses Feature Manipulation Engine procedures to create ArcSDE binary data from an Oracle spatial format.

"Users with all levels of GIS expertise can access, analyze, and visualize information in a timely and efficient fashion," Burris says. "The novice and the GIS expert can now access data quickly, with ease, therefore promoting productivity and better time management."

Benefits

Productivity has increased at DelDOT. Creating a map with several GIS layers can now be achieved with a few mouse clicks. Users can render maps in as little as three seconds and plot in multiple sizes, including size C and D plots.

The application also integrates data for improved analysis. It can display information from several DelDOT business systems, including Maximo, Primavera, and VisualPMS. GIS permits DelDOT employees to analyze multiple types of projects to ensure that scheduling is correct or to view various types of traffic information. Accident, road, bridge, transit, environmental, and basemap data features are available for analysis through the network. Users also have the ability to display various basemap features at one time and to create multiple thematic maps based on business data. Future phases will provide users with the ability to overlay numerous additional themes.

Significant cost savings for the department are another benefit. INFORM requires less software, and DelDOT was able to cut unnecessary software costs by eliminating several client GIS packages from employee desktops. Also, the application has saved DelDOT time and resources. Now, the DelDOT GIS group can concentrate on the creation, maintenance, and development of GIS data and functions, instead of diverting a substantial amount of time to creating maps and training employees.

Through the application developed with GeoDecisions, DelDOT has transformed its daily operations. INFORM brings GIS data to the fingertips of all DelDOT employees, allowing them to retrieve transportation specific data within a user-friendly application. Anyone with access to Microsoft Internet Explorer can utilize the functions. The network was made possible through the expertise of GeoDecisions and the technology available through the Esri suite of products.

"Overall," says Burris, "the new Web application has increased productivity, improved decision making, and translated into cost savings for the Delaware Department of Transportation."

For more information, contact Don Burris, manager of Transportation Assets and Engineering Systems, DelDOT (tel.: 302-760-2600), or Brian Smith, project manager, GeoDecisions (tel.: 717-215-9207, e-mail: bjsmith@geodecisions.com, Web: www.geodecisions.com).

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