On the Job: Delaware DOT Brings GIS to Desktops Enterprisewide

14 May, 2005 By: Cadalyst Staff Cadalyst

ESRI software powers Web portal that makes it easy to view geospatial data and create maps.

The Delaware Department of Transportation now deploys ESRI's ArcIMS 9 and ArcSDE software for an advanced Internet GIS portal that is transforming how the organization operates.

The GIS Web portal is becoming the primary tool at DelDOT for providing GIS viewing and mapping capabilities throughout the organization in the most efficient manner possible, providing easy access to data by all staff without requiring additional client software and the associated training. The application was developed by GeoDecisions, a GIS/information technology consulting firm based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

A Careful Choice
DelDOT selected ESRI software after an internal review process. It considered factors including software usability, training, software development and support, functionality, user-defined requirements and more.

"ESRI was chosen by DelDOT because of the ability to integrate with other state agencies and the stability of ESRI products for delivering spatial data," says Don Burris of DelDOT. "The GIS Web portal is becoming the primary tool for providing GIS viewing and mapping capabilities throughout the organization in the most efficient manner possible. We're achieving numerous benefits, and we have a platform for continued growth and improvement."

The GIS portal, known as INFORM (Information Network For Online Resource Mapping, figures 1, 2 and 3), was deployed in 2004. Version 2.0 of the application is in development and scheduled for delivery this spring. Prior to the application, data was maintained in several locations and DelDOT employees needed to have GIS software located on their desktops to access spatial data and create maps or needed to contact DelDOT's GIS group to request data or maps.

Figure 1. The point of entry into the INFORM Web portal. Because DelDOT users were faced with so much data, the agency decided to use a splash screen to help users select which group of data to query. There are four active groups: transportation, utility, projects and safety.

Figure 2. This map illustrates INFORM'S ability to query. The query is based on a user-defined thematic and area. After the user creates a theme, he or she can create a tabular report based on the user-defined query. The user can then download the report directly to a CSV-format file. The report also enables the user to sort by column and map each element back in the map window.

Figure 3. INFORM allows users to draw points, lines, polygons and text to a map window to show current incidents or to show future development locations, for example.

Centralized Data
Using INFORM, data is maintained and accessible from a centralized location; data redundancies are eliminated; the most accurate, up-to-date data is available to anyone who needs it; and map production is available online using standard map templates. Data related to road maintenance (figure 4), traffic camera views (figure 5), railroad crossing information (figure 6) and more is at users' fingertips.

Figure 4. INFORM lets users select a point on the road segment and have it return the mile point and maintenance road number. DelDOT's orthophotography layer appears here in the background.

Figure 5. INFORM can link to real-time traffic cameras provided through

Figure 6. INFORM shows all railroad crossings within the State of Delaware. Along with attribution, the user can select an image of all crossings looking north, south, east or west.

"The Delaware Department of Transportation, like other state transportation departments, has had a strong need for a visual representation of assets, project locations and other spatially related transportation feature layers," says Brian J. Smith, GeoDecisions. "The goal was to provide optimized data dissemination in a cost-effective manner. A Web portal provides easy data access without the need of additional client software and with little training involved. It met the organization's objectives and provided a platform for future growth."

The INFORM application provides significant cost savings by providing online data and functionality that removes the need for supplying individual client GIS software packages. In addition, the application enables more DelDOT employees to access data more quickly and easily than before. The application also allows the DelDOT GIS group to concentrate on data and application development and maintenance rather than handling individual GIS requests and supplying employee GIS training.

Future GIS applications at DelDOT include implementing an oversized/overweight routing application to integrate with the oversized/overweight permitting application, integrating video logging with INFORM and building a map-driven user interface to support various business applications.

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

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