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GIS in Transportation: Location Intelligence for Your Transportation Business

By: Rajat Khattar

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Geographic information systems (GIS) capture location information and organize it into various visualization forms that allow users to share information, perform analyses and solve complex problems. They are used in a number of transportation applications, including highway maintenance, traffic modeling, accident analysis and route planning.

GIS in Highway Maintenance

Highway maintenance is one of the primary uses for GIS in transportation. It is actively used in countries around the world because of its increasing ease of use and falling costs. The ability to visualize real-time data through maps allows planners to identify and address issues in a more cost effective manner than what could have been achieved using past methods.

(1) Real-Time Data Collection

Through the use of mobile GIS mapping, transportation inspection crews are able to collect and update information in a fraction of the time that would have otherwise been required. This is especially true in remote locations. The information that is collected can be seamlessly woven into corporate databases on a real-time basis.

(2) Planned Maintenance

By using GIS services, officials are able to plan for maintenance on both a short-term and long-term basis. The ability to track resources in real time is critical in responding to short-term events requiring immediate action. Resource managers are better able to track and deploy maintenance equipment, thereby achieving significant gains in productivity.

On a long-term basis, GIS systems provide the information needed for scheduling and routing equipment and personnel. This saves fuel in addition to boosting productivity. One of the best uses for GIS in transportation, though, is when it is integrated into a work order management system to effectively utilize resources and manage mobile workforces.

GIS in Traffic Modeling

Another excellent use for GIS in transportation is in traffic modeling. By creating functional road models based on GIS data, large-scale traffic flows in various road networks around the world can be simulated and studied. Today's models are able to correctly extrapolate data and render a geographically correct 3D model without the additional services of a GIS developer or an Esri engineer. They provide such road features as ramps, overpasses and intersections.

GIS data is typically stored in layers with each layer representing specific geographical features, such as buildings, lakes and parks. This allows planners to study the effect on traffic flow when changes are made to any of those features. Layers can be studied individually or in combination.

GIS in Accident Analysis

One of the most important issues that can be addressed by GIS in transportation is the study of traffic accidents. This is true for both domestic and international accidents because every country must deal with them on social, economic and political levels. The proper analysis of traffic accidents, though, requires more than just basic geographical data. It also requires spatial data that allows authorities to uncover and recognize patterns in order to improve understanding of travel behaviors.

A fully developed GIS system also provides spatial statistics that allow the identification of significant safety issues. One example of this would be accident history related to specific geographical areas or features. This also provides the information needed by authorities to pinpoint areas where accidents can be reduced by implementing specific safety measures. Data can also be used to make time comparisons in order to evaluate the effectiveness of previously implemented safety measures.

GIS in Route Planning

(1) Choosing the Best Route

Very few transportation applications are more important than route planning because unnecessary delays and losses can result from unexpected route hurdles. Individuals and businesses need to know in advance the best route to follow in order to save time and reduce costs. This is especially important for businesses that run routes.

(2) Planning New Routes

When it comes to planning new routes, GIS systems can be used to gather the majority of the data that will be needed to analyze and compare the routes. This includes such things as cost estimates in addition to economic and demographic information. This information is also useful in making preparations to notify drivers and riders of proposed route changes.

(3) Determining the Economic Impact of Routes

Route analysis is not complete without determining the economic impact of proposed changes to a particular location. GIS systems can be used to estimate the difference in drive times to and from the study area as well as the impact of changes in infrastructure. For the purposes of economic development, it is important to maximize accessibility and ensure the most efficient customer inflow.

(4) Analyzing the Operation and Maintenance of Routes

The life-cycle cost of a new route includes its initial construction cost as well as the cost of operation and maintenance over the route's lifetime. This requires a complex analysis that includes such things as traffic control systems and safety maintenance systems. Transportation planners need a wide array of information at their disposal in order to effectively plan capital improvement projects and analyze the operational and ongoing maintenance costs of these projects.

The needed information can be gathered by a GIS system that has the ability to access agency-wide data. This allows a planner to achieve a higher efficiency in lifecycle planning and design. Much of the data comes from surveys and records pertaining to construction management, operations and maintenance. Additionally, planners can take into account the choice of routes used by travelers.

Conclusion

This article points out the importance of GIS in transportation systems. Two of the global leaders in that field are Esri and Chetu. Esri has been helping its customers implement GIS systems to improve results since 1969.

Chetu was founded in 2000 for the purpose of providing customized software development solutions to SMBs, startups and Fortune 500 companies. Their certified Esri engineers combine specific domain experience with technological expertise to deliver enterprise-grade solutions to customers.

Disclaimer:

Chetu, Inc. does not affect the opinion of this article. Any mention of specific names for software, companies or individuals does not constitute an endorsement from either party unless otherwise specified. All case studies and blogs are written with the full cooperation, knowledge and participation of the individuals mentioned. This blog should not be construed as legal advice.

Chetu was incorporated in 2000 and is headquartered in Florida. We deliver World-Class Software Development Solutions serving entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 clients. Our services include process and systems design, package implementation, custom development, business intelligence and reporting, systems integration, as well as testing, maintenance and support. Chetu's expertise spans across the entire IT spectrum.

- See more at: www.chetu.com/blogs

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