World Bank Deploys Dashboard Solution to Improve Safety for Croatian Railways
With 189 member countries and offices in more than 130 locations, the World Bank Group is a global partnership that aims to end extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity in economically underdeveloped countries. Comprised of five unique institutions, the World Bank has worked with local governments on 12,000 projects to support development and relief and distributed more than $45 billion in financial assistance.
World Bank staff recently partnered with a group in Croatia to gain insight into the country's rail network—an effort that would lead to improved safety and efficient transport of goods. As part of this effort, they created an inventory of the Croatian railways to better identify sections that were at risk or in need of maintenance. However, rudimentary schematic diagrams and spreadsheets of data with differing systems of measurement made it difficult to manage and view data.
World Bank and local teams partnered with SymGEO to enhance and streamline the railways existing data management system. SymGEO, a Maryland-based company, provides cost-effective GIS mapping solutions and digital community engagement platforms for government, commercial, and nonprofit clients. SymGEO developed a high-resolution, unified dataset and a dashboard solution to help World Bank improve analysis and better manage railway operations data.
World Bank Group
Enhance and streamline the Croatian railways data management system to improve safety and transportation of goods
Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS
A unique dashboard showing railways in Croatia, allowing stakeholders to perform interactive querying
The rail data in Croatia was stored in a series of spreadsheet files with different methods of linear referencing, depending on what was being queried. Linear referencing is the method of storing geographic locations using relative positions along a measured linear feature. The data included information such as network age, speed limits, and transportation volumes of the railways in Croatia.
The differing referencing systems made it time-consuming to cross-reference these pieces of data and get answers to specific questions, such as how many gross tons were transported on networks during a period of time.
Different linear referencing methods also meant differences in data, such as station names or segments of the railway being referenced dissimilarly. As such, it became challenging for the analytical staff to understand which section of the railway was being talked about in a particular file and how it related to another related spreadsheet file. This made it difficult to identify sections of the Croatian railway that required upgrades or maintenance . The World Bank sought to find railways that may be at risk of structural failure (for example, railways over a certain age that transport a specific amount of volume per year) or potential bottlenecks in trade due to speed limitations.
The World Bank and the Croatian group wanted a solution that would allow them to get answers to their questions interactively rather than having to request individual analysis on a per-question basis. To answer this challenge, SymGEO developed an automated solution that would streamline data management for Croatian railways, allow the client to answer their own queries on the fly, and enable them to create their own report graphics.
Kevin McMaster, principal at SymGEO, explains, "They approached us with a classic GIS problem: They have attribute data in one format and geospatial data in another. Unfortunately, the two don't talk. Our job was to facilitate communication between datasets, leading to greater insight and the ability to tell a story with their data."
To simplify data management and increase accessibility, SymGEO used best-available railway data from OpenStreetMap for the geospatial component and calibrated the network based on the multiple linear referencing systems. Attribute values were then attached to the geospatial data on a per-section basis. Once the data was cleaned, validated, and published, SymGEO configured a unique dashboard for the World Bank showing the railways in Croatia using Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS. Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS is a configurable web app that provides real-time data visualization and analytics of assets, events, and services in a dashboard setup.
According to McMaster, the World Bank client invested in an Operations Dashboard solution because the app included tools for data analysis, aggregation, data processing, and preparation, and it could address their business needs. For this project, it meant Croatian railway stakeholders could perform interactive querying in Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS and get access to all the attributes originally contained in spreadsheet files.
"Operations Dashboard was the most cost-effective solution given that it is an easily configurable application as opposed to building custom code from the ground up. It is also a very shareable resource," says McMaster.
To create the Croatian railway dashboard, all information in the spreadsheets had to be available to be queried by the application, which included data such as railway segment name, age, speed, transport volume, and rail type. Once the data was set up, McMaster says configuring Operations Dashboard to read the feature service and summarize the statistics was "relatively easy."
"With Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS, you can now click on a particular segment and get the network age, what is the total speed, and what is the transportation volume. And the client also has access to multiple years of data," says McMaster. He adds that based on the queries run through Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS, the tool was able to efficiently summarize data.
"The real power of the application is being able to summarize one attribute based on another, as this wasn't possible with the multiple spreadsheet files referenced to different systems. The fact that now a spatially accurate, attributed railway system was produced as part of this project was an added bonus," says McMaster.
The implementation of Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS has improved data accessibility and analysis as well as streamlined processes. To begin, the use of Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS has made information easily accessible to decision-makers and provided better insights for a more informed strategy. As a result, the World Bank does not have to field multiple requests for maps focused on different aspects of rail infrastructure in Croatia.
The new tool also improves analysis. McMaster explains that traditionally every railway section examined would have to be logged as a new mapping request. Then, every query would be run individually. With Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS, queries can be made interactively, data is summarized on the fly, and report-ready information is immediately available.
The World Bank now has the ability to zoom in and out of a map, create report-ready graphics, and focus only on the segments of interest. Overall, this has increased efficiency and allows the team to get the answers they need quickly without the lengthy process of logging a request and waiting for the result.
"This configurable application is a solution that allows deeper insight into the data than was possible using the individual source datasets," says McMaster. "The railway feature service data can be easily expanded to include future years of data, and Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS provides the robust solution they need."
The World Bank was very appreciative of the new dashboard solution as it saves them a lot of time when processing requests. According to McMaster, there is now a complete railway infrastructure using the best available data for all of Croatia, and the client can get actionable information based on attribute data that previously lived in spreadsheet files.
In the future, McMaster would like to continue work on this project, whether it's adding new years of current data, answering new questions, or developing similar projects for other countries. "I think that now that the data is set up, there is certainly a lot of room for advances using the GIS analytical capabilities [of Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS]," says McMaster.
Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS is my go-to configurable application and does everything that I love about data, such as provide easy methods of querying and summarizing. I have found that virtually every project can be complemented by Operations Dashboard.