aulogo GIS Drives Improvements in Transportation




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GIS provides the hub technology for planning, deploying, operating, and optimizing transportation systems. Any large transportation system requires a team of technical professionals and program administrators. GIS helps coordinate this team across functional areas and geographic divisions by sharing information. GIS technology is familiar to leading systems integrators and its use has been fueled by an increase in the abundance and quality of data. This increase is due to cheaper and faster data collection tools and the availability of high-quality commercial data sets.

GIS: the Backbone of ITS
An Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) utilizes advanced technologies, frequently GIS, to improve both the efficiency and safety of transportation systems. GIS-based ITS applications are fed data from GPS units, video cameras, and road monitoring units.

The staff of multijurisdictional or departmental control centers use ITS applications to mitigate traffic congestion and deal decisively with complex emergency situations. They manage traffic flows and inform travelers, both commuters and tourists, of road conditions, alternate routes, and even other available modes of transportation. ITS applications alleviate traffic congestion by making the best possible use of the existing transportation network and gathering data to improve decisions for modifying the network.

"Timely Travel Information Using GIS," describes how the City of Southampton, England, implemented an award-winning GIS-based traffic monitoring and analysis system called the Road MANagement System for Europe (ROMANSE).

Not only can GIS integrate disparate data sets and a variety of ITS technologies, it can help minimize the inherent inefficiencies of intermodal or multimodal transportation systems. It can coordinate the transfer of passengers from cars to planes or freight from trucksto trains to minimize delays and maximize loads.

Transportation Departments Use GIS
Transportation departments in both state and local governments have been using GIS to design and implement ITS strategies, maintain highways, manage facilities, and plan for capital improvements. Policy makers realize that GIS can make a dollars-and-cents difference in deploying and operating transportation systems.

An early use of GIS was to simply publish paper maps of projects planned by state Departments of Transportation and send them to local jurisdictions. Now state and local governments involved in complex construction and/or maintenance projects can realize great economies of time, materials, and labor by using GIS to coordinate their efforts.

GIS is used by transportation planners not only for planning infrastructure 20 years out but also for deciding the next set of potholes to fill. Many governments have or are developing enterprisewide GIS so that a decision to change a particular street can benefit from safety data collected from a local law enforcement agency. Data from spreadsheets, databases, and other sources that would otherwise be very difficult to correlate can be referenced in a standard manner through maps.

This ability to get the big picture allows planners to make transportation decisions in a more holistic manner and more effectively address complex quality of life and environmental issues.

Private Transportation Systems
Quality of life is addressed by another type of GIS-based application. Paratransit agencies, partially in response to the Americans with Disabilities Act, have been growing. GIS furnishes these agencies with better routing tools. Using the network topology features of GIS, more efficient routes better serve customers while improving utilization of the paratransit fleet.

An article in this issue describes how a very a unique paratransit fleet in Portland, Maine, meets the mobility needs of senior citizens by using GIS to coordinate volunteer drivers and promote ride sharing.
ITN application

Though freight railroads are private entities, they must deal with many of the same problems as highway agencies. These railroads streamline operations, track and prevent accidents, manage congestion, and maintain infrastructure using GIS. In addition to operations-related activities, railroads use GIS to manage their vast landholdings and extensive leases

Bus authorities, on the other hand, manage relatively little infrastructure—their primary concern is tracking and managing very movable fleet-based assets. Their use of GIS in siting bus stops parallels the use of GIS by retail businesses to model demand. GIS measures the accessibility of bus stops from schools, stores, and other common destinations.

Managers of trucking fleets use GIS for route planning and analysis, vehicle tracking, dynamic dispatch, and asset allocation. ArcLogistics Route, a new Esri software program, provides managers of small- to medium-sized fleets with a highly automated dispatch and routing tool that comes with data. Customized solutions using ArcInfo, ArcView GIS, MapObjects, or NetEngine software have been developed for companies with large fleets and/or extensive territories.

GIS is an advanced, sustainable, and economically advantageous integrating technology for transportation.

For more information on using GIS for transportation, contact Ernie Ott, transportation industry manager, by E-mail or by phone at 909-793-2853, ext. 1-1984.

Contact Steve Pasquini, fleet and logistics industry manager, by E-mail or by phone at 909-793-2853, ext. 1-2278, for information on using GIS for managing transportation fleets and logistics.


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