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Winter 2001/2002
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Multiagency Transportation Contract

New York State Develops a Statewide GIS for Accident Location Information

logo of the New York State Dept. of Transportation   logo of the New York State Dept. of Motor Vehicles   logo of the New York State Office of Technology

New York State has more than 10 million licensed drivers and more than 12 million registered vehicles. Each year the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) records and processes more than 650,000 motor vehicle accidents. The current system is partly paper-based and in a tabular nonmap format. The existing location coding process is time consuming, susceptible to errors, and some accident locations are not locatable.

To develop a reliable accident locating process, the DMV in conjunction with the New York Department of Transportation (DOT) and the New York State Office for Technology (OFT) recently signed a $5.3 million, three-year contract with Esri. Esri will team with Geographic Data Technology, Inc. (GDT); Applied GIS; Bowne Management Systems; Oracle Corporation; and Dell Computer Corporation to provide software, application and data development, hardware, and training for the implementation of a geographic accident location information system.

The goals of this four-phased project are to streamline the accident locating process and increase productivity and accuracy. The resulting data will be available for highway safety applications in New York State.

Esri's team for this project includes nationally recognized leaders. GDT of Lebanon, New Hampshire, will work with Esri to provide New York State with a geometrically enhanced 1:24,000-scale, updated road centerline database along with additional thematic layers to assist in the coding process.

Applied GIS of Schenectady, New York, will provide local support for software installation, training, and testing. Bowne Management Systems, of Mineola, New York, will design, develop, and implement client applications as well as an interface to the New York City street system.

"The project team participating in this multiagency, multivendor application and data solution is clearly broad," says James McKinney, Esri transportation/logistics services manager. "To ensure the success of the system, Esri's Professional Services Division chose partners with an established and successful history in New York and in developing GIS solutions. Esri's proposed solution is flexible, using the latest technology, and when you have to deliver accurate data and several applications to separate state agencies with independent priorities and a shared GIS database, you had better be flexible."

Leadership for the Future

This project represents technical and managerial leadership. The multiagency collaboration helps substantiate the vision of enterprise GIS beyond the department level and illustrates the concept of the supra-enterprise where interdependent major work groups perform their missions independently, but collaborate to achieve broader goals.

"We believe New York's collaborative work will provide a beacon for many other states and other nations because the mission to provide safe roads is almost always shared across several groups such as motor vehicle agencies, and departments of highways or transportation, as well as highway patrols and public health agencies," says Ernie Ott, Esri transportation industry manager.

"The very nature of road safety is multidisciplinary in which varied solutions affect improvements. For instance, roadway improvements (better signage, lighting, or drainage) require engineering changes, whereas behavioral changes require public communication and law enforcement. GIS offers analysis and visualization benefits that enable early identification of trends before they get out of hand," says Ott.

Delivering Four Application Modules

To develop the accident location coding system, Esri will implement its ArcInfo 8 software. With the ability to develop applications using an object-component data model, ArcInfo 8 provides more scope for extension and customization and is at the forefront of innovative software engineering.

The system will support 250 users at DMV, DOT, and OFT and involves developing four application modules. The location coding data entry module will consist of a series of screens to front-end the location coding process. It will enable location data entry from nonmap formats including electronic data streams and verification of the geographic location to the GIS basemap. Operators will be able to view matched candidates for the accident location as well as error flags, and the module will assist with background georeferenced data sets, such as location references, landmarks, planimetric quads, and digital orthophotos.

The location editing module will enable authorized DMV and DOT staff to select accident records and recode their locations. The map maintenance module will provide New York State with a tool to recommend, track, and monitor requests for changes to the New York basemap. Its graphical user interface will have tools for viewing the current basemap, to note locations for new streets, and to indicate requested modifications and changes such as road name changes, road name aliases, jurisdictional changes, addresses, railroad crossings, new landmarks, posted speed limits, and reference marker changes.

The simple query and report module will be able to produce a list of accident records that meet specific geographic requirements and then enable the display of the selected accident records in a tabular or graphical report. This tool will produce a list of accident records that meet specific geographic requirements such as reference marker, intersection, road segment(s), distance (radius) from a point, or jurisdiction.

"We are very excited because this project has far-reaching benefits for New York State," says Chris Attridge, Esri New York State account manager. "In addition to improving the location coding speed and accuracy for traffic safety analysis on the best data possible, we will provide a data product to many GIS users across the state of New York. The whole GIS user community within the State will gain as a result."

The project consists of four phases. The first, system design and analysis, got under way in August. This phase involves a complete needs assessment and implementation planning. Database and application development and system integration will follow.

For more information, contact Ernie Ott, Esri transportation solutions manager (tel.: 909-793-2853, ext. 1-1984; e-mail: or visit

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