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Case Studies of Select Transportation Agencies

September 2014

logo of the Federal Highway Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation


The U.S. Department of Transportation John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (Volpe Center) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, prepared this report for the Federal Highway Administration's Office of Planning. The project team included Alisa Fine, Paige Colton, Ben Cotton, and Emily Futcher, all of the Volpe Center; and Scott Middleton and Clark Merrefield, of DIGITALiBiz, Inc.

The Volpe Center project team wishes to thank the staff members from 22 organizations nationwide, which are listed in Appendix A, for providing their experiences, insights, and editorial review. The time they kindly provided was vital to preparing the case studies and reviewing this final report.



This report explores how State Departments of Transportation (DOTs) and other transportation agencies are developing and using geospatial tools, including Geographic Information Systems (GIS), to support increased collaboration and improved information-sharing. These objectives are associated with the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Geospatial Data Collaboration (GDC) initiative, which encourages State DOTs and others to use geospatial tools to streamline and improve transportation decision-making.

Over the past several years, State DOTs and other transportation agencies have become increasingly interested in using geospatial tools to support more streamlined access to information. This interest has dovetailed with desires to promote information transparency and more open communications.

This report provides examples of GIS and geospatial tools that support GDC objectives from 21 State DOTs and one non-profit organization. The examples comprise a spectrum of activities that include collecting geospatial data, integrating or consolidating geospatial data into a common framework, developing standards and common formats for these data, accessing these data, and using these data to better communicate with stakeholders.

FHWA also sponsored two peer exchanges in late May 2014 to provide opportunities for these agencies to discuss their experiences in more depth. Two companion reports present summaries and observations from these exchanges. The Denver, CO peer exchange report is available here, and the Raleigh, NC peer exchange report here.

The peer exchanges and case studies demonstrated that agencies have developed a broad array of geospatial tools to address their needs to more effectively consolidate, communicate, or share information. Overall, agencies are focusing on dynamic, web-based tools that aggregate large amounts of geospatial information, allow users to create customized visualizations, and are easily accessible even to those without advanced GIS expertise.

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The Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Geospatial Data Collaboration (GDC) initiative encourages State Departments of Transportation (DOTs) and others to use geospatial tools to increase collaboration, improve information-sharing, and streamline transportation decision-making. FHWA established GDC as one element of its Every Day Counts (EDC) initiative. EDC aims to produce innovations, resources, and partnerships to shorten project delivery, enhance safety, and protect the environment. Both EDC and GDC leverage and support other ongoing FHWA efforts such as Planning and Environment Linkages (PEL) and Eco-Logical. All of these efforts are helping stakeholders work better together to achieve faster and more informed transportation decisions and projects.

This report explores how State DOTs and other transportation agencies are developing and using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) applications and other geospatial tools to support GDC objectives. This report highlights examples that comprise a spectrum of activities, including collecting geospatial data, integrating or consolidating geospatial data into a common framework, developing standards and common formats for these data, accessing them, and using these data to communicate better with stakeholders.


The project team conducted an online literature scan to identify recurring themes and examples of State DOTs and transportation agencies using GIS and geospatial tools to support GDC objectives. The project team then reviewed the results of the 2014 American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials' (AASHTO) GIS for Transportation Symposium 2013 annual State survey. Finally, the team reviewed FHWA's EDC Progress Report 2 (2013), which highlights examples of States participating in an EDC initiative to test or deploy GIS and geospatial tools for GDC goals.

From these reviews, FHWA and the Volpe Center identified 22 agencies that appeared to be actively engaging in activities that supported GDC goals (see Appendix A for a list of these agencies and their staffs' contact information. Appendix B lists the data-sharing activities that agencies reported to the project team). In winter and spring 2014, the Volpe Center conducted telephone discussions with these agencies to explore their activities in more detail (see Appendix C for the discussion guide used for these conversations). Case studies were developed from these discussions that documented agencies' experiences in more detail (see Appendix D for all 22 case studies).

Following the case studies, FHWA sponsored two peer exchanges in May 2014 hosted by the North Carolina DOT (May 20-21) and the Colorado DOT (May 28-29). These peer exchanges convened many of the case study participants to provide opportunities to discuss their experiences and activities with one another. Two companion reports present summaries and observations from these exchanges.

GIS for Data-Sharing Overview

GIS provides a framework for integrating layers of often complex information, allowing multiple users to access and manipulate data from a common entry point. As a result, GIS and other geospatial tools can help organizations share information with broader audiences, coordinate among multiple stakeholders, and support more informed decision-making.

State DOTs and other transportation agencies are becoming more interested in using geospatial tools to support GDC goals of improved communication, coordination, and decision-making. This is especially true since many agencies have more limited budgets than they did in the past. For example, geospatial tools can help leverage resources by supporting agencies in “pooling” data into a common framework.

AASHTO's Technology Implementation Group (TIG) demonstrates State DOTs' increased interests in these areas. The AASHTO TIG is actively promoting a data-sharing framework for State DOTs modeled on the Utah DOT's UPLAN application, which is a web-based, decision-support tool that aggregates and shares a wide variety of geospatial information. (Several agencies participating in the AASHTO TIG's UPLAN initiative were also part of this report's case study examples and peer exchanges.) The National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) noted that organizations creating geospatial data, including State DOTs, can derive significant benefits from sharing data more widely, including time- and cost-savings, increased data quality, and more informed planning.1,2

Interest in using geospatial tools for improved data-sharing has dovetailed with recent government initiatives to increase transparency and promote more effective communication. For example, the White House's Open Government Initiative encourages all Federal agencies to implement activities that expand the public's access to information, improve information quality, and institute a culture of openness. At the same time, there has been an increased emphasis on sharing information to support more effective transportation decision-making, as exemplified by FHWA's EDC/GDC, PEL, and Eco-Logical initiatives.

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Types of Geospatial Tools

State DOTs and other transportation agencies have developed different kinds of geospatial tools to address their needs to more effectively consolidate, communicate, or share data. For the purposes of this report, the project team organized the tools into two categories: repositories and gateways (see Table 1).

Repositories are sources of geospatial data tailored to users with GIS expertise or capabilities; examples include clearinghouses, libraries, warehouses, and inventories. Repositories generally focus more on data management functions, such as storing and maintaining information.

Gateways offer users (including those without advanced GIS expertise) the ability to visualize geospatial data or share data; examples include data viewers, screening tools,3 and portals. Gateways are focused on aggregating data that might be housed in multiple databases or owned by multiple business units within an organization. Gateways are also more likely to offer additional mechanisms to support communication or coordination with a variety of stakeholders.

Table 1: Types of Geospatial Tools

Examples: Clearinghouse, Library, Warehouse, Inventory Viewer Screening Tool Portal
PRIMARY PURPOSE Streamline access to information x x x x
Streamline data management (e.g., data collection, updates) x      
Support transportation project streamlining     x  
Support business workflows, communication, and coordination for a broad range of stakeholders, including the public       x
CONTENT Provide an ability to link to or download GIS data x x x x
Information typically housed, stored, or maintained in the tool itself x x x  
ACCESS Users need GIS software to access and manipulate data x      
USER COMMUNICATION Limited mechanisms for user coordination or communication x x    
Extensive user coordination mechanisms (e.g., users can easily share comments or edited data through the tool)     x x
VISUALIZATION Dynamic visualization components, such as the ability to map data layers onto a basemap(s)   x x x

Practitioners are moving away from initiating or developing repositories, which tend to be more static, toward developing more dynamic gateways, particularly web-based portals. Many of these web-based portals tend to have similar features that include:


In addition to repositories and gateways, practitioners have developed different kinds of data-sharing agreements, including memoranda of understanding (MOUs), programmatic agreements, or operating agreements (OAs) as mechanisms to formally outline and structure roles and responsibilities for administering, managing, and sharing data. MOUs or OAs typically specify coordination between a State DOT and its planning partners (e.g., State, city, or county government agencies). Few States reported having similar agreements focused on a specific data-sharing application or tool.

Several States, including NCDOT, NYSDOT, RIDOT, and MDSHA, have not developed any formal data-sharing agreements to date. Instead, they rely on informal agreements with partner agencies about how and when to share geospatial information.

Coordination Efforts

States are engaging in various processes to coordinate their data-sharing activities. Many States are defining data standards or templates to ensure a consistent data “look and feel” for information. Others participate in inter- and intra-agency groups (such as the AASHTO TIG or other groups) to discuss common goals or to share best practices for using specific geospatial tools/applications. For example, WSDOT coordinates with an intra-agency working group on data sharing standards.

Most States noted they contribute to and access information available from statewide geospatial data repositories (which are usually data libraries or clearinghouses). Many or most of these statewide repositories are maintained by a State department of information technology and not by a State DOT. In some cases, State DOTs are actively engaging with the agencies that administer these statewide repositories to implement enhancements, such as adding new datasets or linking existing repositories with State DOT tools.

Benefits of Repositories and Gateways

Challenges of Repositories and Gateways


New geospatial platforms and technologies have recently emerged that are allowing data to be more efficiently stored, accessed, and shared with a broad array of stakeholders. Because many of these technologies are specifically designed to be intuitive and user-friendly, they are also reducing the amount of formal training required to work with or manipulate GIS data. Along with these developments, however, have come unique challenges, such as the need to develop improved data standards and governance, as well as the need to address concerns about properly managing access to sensitive data. Given these challenges there is an opportunity for FHWA to work more closely with State DOTs and others to provide support for developing, using, and maintaining data-sharing technologies in support of GDC goals. This support might include providing guidance for data collection efforts or coordination activities. It might also include implementing training that helps demonstrate the power of geospatial data for improving agency business practices, interagency relations, and public communications.

Many States have not explicitly labeled their data-sharing tools or efforts as EDC or GDC activities. There is an opportunity for States to make stronger connections between their efforts and FHWA initiatives that include EDC/GDC, PEL, and Eco-Logical.

Other opportunities are likely to emerge as a result of trends that may influence data-sharing activities in the future. For example, there may be a continued expectation for agencies to do more with less given decreasing budgets and increasing transportation needs; this might result in increased needs for cost-savings, collaboration, and streamlining supported by data-sharing activities. At the same time, it is likely there will be a continued emphasis on government transparency and information accessibility, including the need to demonstrate the need for and benefits of transportation expenditures to the public. Geospatial data-sharing tools will play important roles in these areas.

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Agency Name Title Email
ADOT Ruth Greenspan Technical Section Manager, Environmental Planning Group
James Meyer GIS Program Manager
Justin White Roadside Resources Manager
Jeff Wilkerson Senior GIS Programmer
Todd Williams Director, Office of Environmental Services
CDOT Gary Aucott GIS Specialist
Allen Ibaugh Consultant
CTDOT Michael Connors Transportation Assistant Planning Director
Rick Hanley Transportation Engineer
Kelly Pearson Information Technology Analyst
James Spencer Transportation Supervising Planner
DelDOT Ralph Reeb Planning Manager  
GDOT Sandy Lawrence Cultural Resources Section Chief
IADOT Eric Abrams Spatial and GIS Team Leader
Scott Marler Environmental Resources Manager
Derek Peck GIS Coordinator
MDSHA Mike Sheffer Assistant Division Chief/GIS Coordinator
Erin Lesh GIS Project Manager
MoDOT Michael Meinkoth Historic Preservation Manager
Richard Moore Environmental Compliance Manager
Chris Shulse Senior Environmental Specialist
MDT Brian Andersen Lead GIS Analyst/Cartographer
NDOR Rose Braun Highway GIS Applications Manager
Nebraska Office of the Chief Information Officer Nathan Watermeier State GIS Coordinator
New Hampshire Audubon Vanessa Jones GIS Specialist
NCDOT John Farley Manager, GIS Unit
NDOT John Burgess Geospatial Data Manager
Rebecca Kapuler Transportation Planner/Analyst III
Holly Smith Project Manager
NDDOT Brian Bieber Senior Programmer/Analyst (GIS)
NYSDOT Phil Bell Data Coordinator, Open Data NY and Deputy Director, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Program
Dan D'Angelo Deputy Chief Engineer
Kevin Hunt GIS Manager
ODOT Andrew Williams Pavement Management Engineer
PennDOT Matt Long Transportation Planning Manager
John Parker Transportation Planning Manager
RIDOT Stephen Kut Programmer Analyst III
John Preiss Supervising Civil Engineer
SCDOT Yelena Kalashnikova GIS Manager
Donald McElveen Manager GIS/Mapping
Emily Watts GIS Analyst
WSDOT Kyle Miller Transportation Planning Specialist
Julie Fogde GIS Cartographic Products Supervisor
WVDOT Marshall Burgess Database Administrator
Hussein Elkhansa Geospatial Transportation Information Section Head
Karl Epps Geospatial Transportation Information Section
Kyle Weatherholt GIS Coordinator
Yueming Wu GIS Manager
FHWA Office of Planning Mark Sarmiento Systems Planning & Analysis Team
Volpe Center Ben Cotton Community Planner
Paige Colton Environmental Protection Specialist
Alisa Fine Community Planner
Emily Futcher Policy Analyst  
Clark Merrefield Writer/Editor  
Scott Middleton Operations Research Analyst

*Those whose names are bolded participated in the peer exchanges.

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Examples: Clearinghouse, Library, Warehouse, Inventory Viewer Screening Tool Portal Coordination group (e.g., steering committee) Data-sharing Agreements Other (e.g., data standards/ templates)
Agency Reported Effort(s)6              
ADOT Historic Preservation/Biology Portals, APLAN (AGOL site), AZ Cultural Resource Inventory, Feature Inventory Systems x x x x x
(AASHTO TIG, other)
(in process)
CDOT OTIS   x x x      
CTDOT Expanding GIS road network/consolidating roadway inventories x       x x x
(considering ways to standardize data formats and nomenclature)
DelDOT Delaware AGOL site       x x   x
(participates in informal, inter-State users group to discuss Esri Roads & Highways application)
GDOT Georgia Natural and Historic Resources GIS (GNAHRGIS)   x x        
IADOT GIS Project Portal (GIS Portal)   x x x x
(IADOT GIS Council)
x x
(in process of documenting data standards for portal)
MDSHA Enterprise GIS (eGIS), informal data inventory x     x   x
(some agreements in place; has primarily relied on informal networks)
MoDOT Natural Heritage Review (NHR) Website, Missouri Natural Heritage Database (MONHD)   x x   x x x
(interagency coordination)
MDT MDT AGOL site   x   x x
(incl. AASHTO TIG)
(developed best practices manual and test plan for AGOL site)
NDOR Nebraska Enterprise Centerline Transportation Attribute Resource (NECTAR)       x x    
NDOT PLANS   x   x
(in process)
NHA Wildlife Connectivity Model     x   x    
NCDOT Spatial Data Viewer (SDV), Go!NC (AGOL site) x     x x
(AASHTO TIG and other coordination efforts)
NDDOT NDDOT AGOL site, ArcGIS Collector application to support mobile data collection, data servers x     x x    
NYSDOT Enterprise Linear Referencing System (ELRS), asset management and operations GIS applications, Recovery Act webtool x x     x
(including informal inter-State users' group to share experiences using Esri's Roads & Highways)
ODOT Transportation Information Mapping System (TIMS), asset management database x
(asset management database in process)
    x x x
(developing data standards for TIMS)
PennDOT PennShare       x x
(incl. AASHTO TIG)
RIDOT Inter-agency enterprise GIS database, comprehensive State roadway inventory, AGOL site (considering future implementation)       x
(possible in future)
SCDOT Local Agency Data Collection (LADC) program, roadway inventory management system (RIMS) x       x
(informal coordination with local agencies)
VDOT Roadway Network System (RNS)/Roadway Inventory Management System (RIMS), GIS Integrator x         x x
(identifying standards for State linear referencing system)
WSDOT WSDOT Online Map Center, Community Planning Portal, WSDOT airports tool, Esri Roads & Highways x x   x x
(incl. AASHTO TIG; inter-State users' group)
WVDOT WVDOT AGOL site, Esri Roads & Highways, Enterprise Resource Planning Suite, GIS online data clearinghouse x x   x
(in process)
x x x
(data standardization)

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Arizona DOT (ADOT) is involved in several data-sharing initiatives that include contributing to and developing data portals to support streamlined project planning and development, increased interagency collaboration, and improved transportation decision-making.


Historic Preservation Team (HPT) and Biology Portals
ADOT developed the HPT Portal in 2003 as a vehicle for ADOT staff, consultants, and cultural resource professionals to access information on historic properties along State highways and ADOT-owned rights-of-way (ROW). The HPT Portal helps ADOT staff and consultants determine whether a proposed transportation project will affect historic properties and cultural resources. It houses information such as reports on cultural resources, consultation letters, and the location of historic properties, much of which ADOT collects during project construction. ADOT screens all users requesting access to the portal and “assigns” a level of access. Depending on the access level, information can be viewed, downloaded, edited, or displayed on an interactive GIS map showing specific locations of projects and historic properties.

In 2010, ADOT used the HPT Portal as the template for developing a second GIS-based tool—the ADOT Biology Portal—that serves a similar purpose as the HPT Portal but includes ecological resource data. The Biology Portal is a document repository that allows users to enter biological reports, surveys, and consultation letters along with project-level documents such as plan sheets, project specifications, and technical documentation. Users can search documents based on criteria such as species, roadways, habitats, or mitigation measures.

ADOT plans to update the information included in the HPT and Biology Portals. As part of this update, ADOT will develop a data-sharing agreement with ASM to ensure that data collection efforts are not duplicative (in the future, ADOT would like to enter into similar agreements with other agencies that maintain cultural resource databases for Arizona, such as the U.S. Forest Service).

ADOT is a member of AASHTO's UPLAN TIG initiative. As part of the TIG effort, ADOT has developed its own AGOL site, APLAN, to aggregate data and mapping applications. APLAN currently provides access to ADOT's and other State agencies' data (i.e., land ownership, jurisdictional districts, traffic count locations, travel surface type, and other information on State-owned highways). When fully implemented, APLAN will serve as ADOT's central location for viewing and accessing geospatial data. Currently, APLAN is only accessible to invited users, such as project managers, who have a direct need to consume the data. Any data that is sensitive in nature requires an AGOL account. ADOT also makes a variety of maps available through its annual Map Book and on ADOT's mapping homepage.

Feature Inventory System (FIS)
In response to State asset management requirements, ADOT mapped the location of transportation features such as guardrails (e.g., culvert locations), biological/environmental resources (e.g., bird nesting locations), wildlife features (e.g., wildlife crossing structures), and water quality features (e.g., dry wells) to create a GIS-based FIS. The intent of FIS was to document assets and assist maintenance staff in planning inspections and other activities. While FIS was initially viewed as an internal application, ADOT GIS staff may expand FIS in the future to incorporate functionality from the Biology Portal or include other information, like safety data, that might support broader agency decision-making. Ultimately, FIS might be integrated into APLAN as well.

Other Efforts
AZDOT provides cultural resource data to the Arizona Cultural Resource Inventory (known as AZSITE), which is managed by the Arizona State Museum (ASM). AZSITE is a data library that provides access to GIS applications containing data on historical and archaeological properties located within Arizona and within a 40-mile buffer zone around the State. Access to AZSITE requires an authorized user account and ASM approval. On an as-needed basis, ADOT manually loads information from AZSITE directly into the HPT Portal.

The AZGEO Clearinghouse (AZGEO) is a new statewide initiative administered by the Arizona Geographic Information Council (AGIC) (see Figure 1). AZGEO is a portal through which governmental users—including ADOT and other State and local agencies—can upload and share various types of geospatial data and mapping applications. AZGEO is still in the early stages of implementation, but currently available data layers include transportation infrastructure, environmental features, hydrology, and others. As AGIC makes improvements to AZGEO's functionality, ADOT anticipates the site will be used more widely and formally. Participation in AZGEO is voluntary and the information hosted on AZGEO is not currently accessible to non-government users.

Flowchart of the AZGEO portal showing contributors (Federal Agencies, State Agencies, Special Projects/Programs/Agencies, and Local Agencies) submitting Shared Geospatial Data and Shared GIS Services to AZGEO (Public, Specified User Groups, and Agency Only). Outputs of AZGEO are Original Data and Services, Enhanced or Original Data and Services, and Discrete and Secure which are provided to Beneficiaries (Federal Agencies, State Agencies, Special Projects/Programs/Agencies and Local Agencies).

Figure 1: AZGEO is a portal through which governmental users can share data and mapping applications with specified groups.

Data-Sharing Benefits

Additional Resources

ADOT can share the ADOT/ASM data-sharing agreement when it is complete.

APLAN Fact Sheet

Arizona Geographic Information Council

FHWA Environmental Review Toolkit Case Study: ADOT Historic Preservation Team Portal

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Colorado DOT's (CDOT) Online Transportation Information System (OTIS) portal provides access to a wide range of geospatial information for transportation planning and project development, as well as for public reference. OTIS is essentially a centralized, “one-stop shop” for viewing highway, environmental, project, and traffic data, but it also offers access to statewide maps, reports, highway imagery, and serves as a spatial and tabular data inventory. OTIS currently contains mostly CDOT data, with the exception of datasets provided by cities and counties.


CDOT launched OTIS in 2009 as the centerpiece of its effort to improve access to State geospatial information. Before OTIS, CDOT's geospatial maps and the data underlying those maps were decentralized. In other words, the data were maintained by various business units across the organization in different formats and databases. There was no common, user-friendly interface for stakeholders both within and outside CDOT to access the agency's geospatial information; because of this, individuals wanting access to this information generally needed a high level of GIS technical expertise to analyze it. Furthermore, because data were stored in disparate databases across the agency, it was difficult for users to find the information they needed.

OTIS' users include internal and external stakeholders. For example, CDOT staff use OTIS to access data that helps inform transportation decision-making. State agencies and private enterprises that do business with CDOT use OTIS information for project planning. The Traffic and Highway Data Explorer applications provide information useful for the traveling public, such as annual average daily traffic, the percentage of trucks that use a particular road, and projections of the number of trucks expected to use that road. Most information on OTIS is available to the public with the exception of some environmental and traffic safety engineering data.

Data Administration and Management
CDOT's GIS Support Unit is responsible for maintaining OTIS. When CDOT first began building OTIS, they contracted with Data Transfer Solutions, a private consulting firm, to conduct a user-needs study across the organization to identify an appropriate framework for structuring a centralized geospatial database using Oracle. Geospatial staff then identified relevant data to include in the database by surveying other CDOT business units and compiling existing data from a variety of sources, including hard copy documents, database files, and Excel spreadsheets.

Currently, data shared through OTIS is obtained through multiple channels on an as-needed basis or in response to user requests. For example, staff responsible for maintaining CDOT's roadway inventory receive information from cities and counties on an annual basis; the data are then provided to the geospatial staff which publish the information to OTIS. GIS Unit staff also access datasets maintained by other CDOT units at various times, from a quarterly basis to an as-needed basis. Except for the city/county data, there is very little non-CDOT data on OTIS access datasets maintained by other State agencies. Finally, CDOT's contractors may provide information to the GIS Unit (for example, environmental data) that is published to OTIS as projects are completed.

There are no formal standards to which OTIS data must adhere. The GIS Unit staff strive to keep information as consistent and accurate as possible, and they primarily rely on OTIS' users to notify CDOT when there are data quality issues. GIS Unit staff noted that many of OTIS' applications and datasets have become more complete and accurate over time as users have provided comments and suggestions concerning the data. For example, OTIS' locational bridge data initially contained many errors. Through user-identified updates, CDOT has been able to correct or address these errors and significantly improve the quality of this dataset.

Future Changes
Most recently, CDOT has focused on expanding and enhancing the functionality of OTIS to respond to CDOT user requests. For example, OTIS' Windshield application, which provides a videolog of highway images, has now been integrated with Google Street View to provide more comprehensive imagery. In the future, CDOT anticipates adding tracking functionality to OTIS—for instance, tracking snow removal activities after a weather event.

GIS Unit staff use Google Analytics to track the number of hits that different OTIS applications receive. OTIS currently receives a total of approximately 400 hits per day. No other quantitative metrics; however, are currently used to assess OTIS. In the future, CDOT may consider using a framework such as the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association's GIS Capability Maturity Model to assess the performance and capability of OTIS and identify potential areas of improvement.

Screenshots from CDOT's OTIS portal showing a Colorado county map with major roads marked by red lines, a menu allowing the user to select map layers, and a menu allowing the user to zoom to a route segment between two reference points

Figure 2: CDOT's OTIS data portal provides access to a range of geospatial information for transportation planning and project development, including environmental data layers such as water quality structures.

Data-Sharing Benefits and Challenges

Additional Resources

CDOT has an administrator's manual for managing OTIS, but has not developed any operating agreements or data-sharing agreements related to OTIS.

FHWA GIS in Transportation webinar on OTIS (2012)

CDOT Online Transportation Information System

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The Connecticut DOT (CTDOT) is engaging in several efforts related to geospatial data-sharing and integration. CTDOT recently undertook a major revision of the State's GIS road network to include data on all public roads throughout the State. The purpose of this effort is to produce a unified operational view of the State's roads for CTDOT, other agencies, and potentially the public. CTDOT is also consolidating its roadway inventory data and considering ways to improve access to its data to support improved communications, decision-making, and more effective collaboration.


Roadway Inventory Expansion
Historically, CTDOT's roadway inventory data had been collected through the use of a GIS road network based on Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing Line Systems (TIGER/Lines). CTDOT had mapped the majority of the State-owned roadways in Connecticut (this work was done in-house), but not Connecticut's 27,000 miles of locally owned roadways. CTDOT recently contracted with Bentley Exor, a third-party asset management software company. CTDOT is now primarily using Exor asset management software to expand the inventory, but has also made use of desktop Esri tools and orthophoto imagery acquired in 2012. When a particular orthophoto view does not support a clear view of a specific roadway segment due to forest growth or other obstructions, CTDOT relies on technologies such as Google Street View or Bing Maps to find a different view.

Data Consolidation and Access
CTDOT is exploring ways to enhance the roadway inventory to provide a stronger foundation for information-sharing between CTDOT and other agencies, as well as the public. For example, CTDOT is consolidating existing inventory datasets owned and managed by different business units into a single basemap. Further, the agency is considering ways to update the original TIGER data files to correct spatial inaccuracies and standardize nomenclature. Over time, CTDOT anticipates making this centralized inventory routable, which would allow all agencies throughout the State to reference one standard set of information (currently agencies such as the State Departments of Public Safety and Environmental Protection each have their own network).

CTDOT is also considering implementing a web-based interface that would allow municipalities to electronically provide data updates to CTDOT to include in the inventory. Currently, the process by which CTDOT receives local roadway data from towns and cities is complex, time-consuming, and involves sharing paper maps (CTDOT now receives local data from multiple officials and jurisdictions since the State has 169 municipalities and no county governments).

In the future, CTDOT envisions implementing a publically accessible interface, such as AGOL, to allow broader access to inventory data. If implemented, this type of platform could provide a foundation for aggregating all of CTDOT's geospatial information to share it with a broader audience. CTDOT is looking to other State DOT initiatives focused on data-sharing (such as Utah DOT's UPLAN) as models for how CTDOT might move forward.

Other Activities
The effort to consolidate the inventory dovetails with a recent State of Connecticut executive order that supports the creation of the Connecticut Open Data Portal, a web-based platform that will offer access to State-owned data, both geospatial and not, to increase government transparency and promote data-sharing. CTDOT has also participated in the State's Geospatial Information Systems Council, which supports statewide planning efforts, coordinates data sharing between State agencies, and expands local and municipal access to geospatial data.

a map of Connecticut from the Connecticut Open Data Portal marked with green circles that show Park and Ride locations

Figure 3: The publically-available Connecticut Open Data Portal can generate maps that feature a wide range of information, including the locations of Park and Ride locations on Connecticut highways, as demonstrated above.

Data Coordination and Sharing: Benefits and Challenges

CTDOT reported several benefits and challenges stemming from the efforts described above.

Additional Resources

CTDOT has an agreement with the State Department of Public Health to share information on wells and water supplies. Since this information is considered sensitive, its use is restricted to CTDOT.

Connecticut Geospatial Information Systems Council

State of Connecticut Executive Order No. 28 established the state's Open Data Portal.

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Delaware DOT (DelDOT) is engaging in several geospatial data-sharing efforts. First, DelDOT is part of an inter-agency initiative to develop a Delaware ArcGIS Online (AGOL) site. The purpose of this site is to support users in more easily consolidating, sharing, and visualizing a range of data including transportation and environmental information. Additionally, DelDOT participates in several other activities with a common goal of improving geospatial data accessibility.


Delaware AGOL Site
Over the past several months, several Delaware agencies have convened to discuss a mutual interest in consolidating the State's data into an easily accessible, online enterprise system, and to develop a set of statewide geospatial data standards. The core agencies engaging in these conversations include the State's Office of State Planning Coordination (OSPC), Department of Technology and Information (DTI), Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), Department of Safety and Homeland Security (DSHS), Sussex County, and DelDOT.

OSPC is taking a leading role in coordinating these agencies and has identified a four-phase process for developing and implementing the enterprise system. During the first two phases of the process, which are now complete, DTI worked with DelDOT and the other core agencies to identify an appropriate system architecture and platform (deemed to be AGOL); DTI then created a pilot AGOL site to test how statewide data could be published and displayed. During the last two ongoing phases, DTI and OSPC are working with State agencies to develop and implement an enterprise GIS structure and formalize data maintenance processes for Delaware's AGOL site. A pilot version of the site, which is limited in scope, currently allows the agencies and the public to display a range of data relating to road centerlines, boundaries, parcels, schools, land uses, sea level rise, and trail networks. The full production enterprise GIS system will allow State agencies to display all of their public data through the AGOL site. DelDOT is currently testing the site and sharing its feedback with DTI and other core agencies. It is anticipated that the full production system will be implemented by December 2014.

Delaware's tightly knit GIS community has helped develop the enterprise GIS system and other GIS data-sharing efforts in the State. Delaware's geospatial efforts have also benefitted from the Delaware Geographic Data Committee (DGDC), which provides loose geospatial governance to various State agencies. In the future, there will be a significant governance effort to ensure successful implementation of the enterprise GIS system.

screenshot of the State of Delaware's Online Mapping website homepage

Figure 4: The State of Delaware's ArcGIS Online Site will help users share and visualize a range of data.

Other GIS Data-Sharing and Compilation Efforts
In addition to helping test and provide feedback on the State AGOL site, DelDOT has developed a number of GIS tools that allow staff to more easily access information for project planning. For example, DelDOT developed a GIS-based bicycle connectivity tool that includes data on sidewalks and bicycle paths. This tool assists DelDOT's bicycle and pedestrian coordinator in identifying gaps in connectivity and prioritizing projects that help improve connectivity. It also supports staff in identifying improvements to ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

DelDOT participates in an informal users' group composed of practitioners from 23 States that are utilizing or intending to utilize Esri's Roads and Highways software. This users' group convenes on an occasional basis via telephone to discuss challenges in implementing the software and tactics for addressing these challenges.

Additionally, DelDOT contributes data to and utilizes the Delaware Geospatial Data Exchange, the State's data clearinghouse that is maintained by DTI. The Delaware Geospatial Data Exchange will be replaced by emerging technology developed through the enterprise GIS effort: the Open Data add-on to AGOL, which allows users to view and download all public data. DelDOT also works with the University of Delaware's geology department to obtain and exchange information on an as-needed basis. DelDOT provides its data to government agencies that request it and partners with other government agencies in sharing data. For example, DelDOT exchanges crash data with the Delaware State Police. However, DelDOT does not share sensitive data, such as the locations of endangered species, that it obtains from partner agencies.

DelDOT believes that Delaware's small size has contributed to a fairly tight-knit State GIS community in which strong professional relationships and a collaborative spirit have facilitated information sharing. However, DelDOT noted a few challenges encountered in the agency's own data-sharing activities. For example, DelDOT found it difficult to determine how often data needs to be collected and whether there are specific layers that should be considered priorities for collection and updates. Additionally, DelDOT noted there are sometimes gaps between decision-makers and staff who are developing GIS applications. As a general lesson learned to address this challenge, DelDOT noted that staff can educate agency leadership on leveraging GIS applications to address multiple agency business needs.

Data-Sharing Benefits

Historically, most of DelDOT's geospatial data resided in multiple databases maintained by various business units across the agency. This has made it difficult for agency staff to find and access information and has led to redundancies in data collection. DelDOT anticipates that the forthcoming Delaware AGOL site will provide benefits that will help address these and other challenges. Some specific benefits from the AGOL site might include the following:

Additional Resources

July 2010 State of Delaware Geospatial Strategic Plan (this has not yet been implemented, but is a goal)

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Georgia's Natural, Archaeological, and Historic Resources Geographic Information System (GNAHRGIS) is a web-based, interactive data catalog and GIS tool that provides access to geospatial information about Georgia's natural, archaeological, and historic resources.


GNAHRGIS first developed in the 1990s, is a collaboration between GDOT, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, and The University of Georgia. The system was built to assist GDOT transportation planners and design staff in locating natural and cultural resources within a project area and evaluating the potential effects of the project on those resources.

While GNAHRGIS was intended to serve transportation planners, it is now used mostly by subject matter experts, primarily archeologists and historians, to conduct background research on the state of resources in a particular area before going out into the field. In particular, archaeologists use the system to conduct historical research. Companies building cell phone towers also use GNAHRGIS to comply with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.

GNAHRGIS has gone through two phases of updates over the past 20 years and is now in its third phase. The most recent update phase was launched in 2011. While most of the data available through GNAHRGIS is publically accessible, some resource data, including archaeological and endangered species data, is available to staff only.

Data Collection and Maintenance
Currently, GNAHRGIS does not allow easy entry of new or up-to-date information. The only new data in the system is provided by utility companies that hire students to conduct surveys of areas based on projected transmission line locations.

GDOT and its partner organizations would like to change this system so that survey data can be more easily submitted and added into GNAHRGIS. Currently surveyors fill out draft reports that are saved online. Under the new process GDOT staff have proposed, surveyors would fill out a form online using radio buttons. When information about location, type of site, and other data is uploaded, the State Preservation Office would approve the data and the information would go public on GNAHRGIS.

GDOT is also working with other agencies to access new datasets to add to GNAHRGIS. The department's goal is to make the system a one-stop-shop for all GIS data for GDOT. For example, GDOT is currently working to add a “social” layer to the system. The social layer would let planners and NEPA specialists conduct demographic research within GNAHRGIS, and help them understand potential impacts of a transportation project.

Data-Sharing Challenges

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Iowa DOT's (IADOT) Highway Division GIS Project Portal is a centralized, web-based portal accessible to IADOT staff (in the future, IADOT may make the Portal or a different version of it available to users outside the agency network). The Portal provides a standard framework to query, analyze, and visualize geospatial information.


Several years ago, IADOT was planning upgrades along the 301 miles of Interstate 80 (I-80) that runs through Iowa. As part of this project, IADOT collected a large amount of spatial information related to baseline conditions such as infrastructure data and environmental features. To help aggregate and store this information, IADOT's Office of Location and Environment (OLE) hired a consultant to build a geospatial framework and interface. Initially, this ArcGIS Server-based tool served as a repository for information obtained for the I-80 upgrades. Over time, OLE staff saw potential benefits in expanding the tool to include other spatial information stored in disparate databases. In 2010, OLE staff began adding statewide layers to the tool, including environmental, asset management and archaeological data, and completed the technological updates to the Portal that included upgrading ArcGIS server infrastructure.

The renamed Highway Division GIS Portal enables users to query any of IADOT's spatial information from one place and view it on a single basemap.7 The Portal does not function as a data warehouse, but as a database-centric, software-neutral environment. Data are still collected and managed by individual data owners in various business units or offices in their own databases across the agency; when a data owner updates a dataset, these updates are automatically pushed through to the GIS. The Portal's interface provides a standard access point and visual framework through which users can call up data, view that data with a common look and feel, and map information on demand.

OLE provides a system of governance to guide data formatting, but data custodians from other DOT offices, not OLE, are responsible for ensuring data is up-to-date and of good quality.

Access and Analysis
OLE decided not to provide public access to the Portal because it displays some sensitive information like proposed project costs and estimated letting dates. Additionally, other information (such as project schedule data) may fluctuate as projects progress.

OLE GIS staff use an analysis tool called Geocortex Optimizer to identify the data layers that users access and the frequency with which they are accessed. The information is primarily used to identify and quickly address technical issues, such as layers that may be taking an unusually long time to load. OLE staff noted; however, that this tool helps assess a strategic direction for the Portal. For example, if staff notice that some layers are accessed more than others, they can decide whether to invest in improvements.

OLE has developed a Geospatial Governance and Guidelines document which includes the responsibilities and structure of the IADOT GIS Council, metadata and projection standards, and where to find certain types of data, etc. In addition, IADOT has signed 28E agreements8 with other State and local agencies, including some for the purposes of sharing data with cities and counties. 28E agreements are one way in which IADOT obtains local geospatial data, except for imagery, which is obtained through informal sharing.

Lessons Learned and Challenges
OLE noted that when developing new data tools or applications, it is critical to have champions who can help support the effort and lead it forward. Additionally, it is important to develop a long-term vision for the tool. This vision should help users more easily understand how they can use a new tool as part of their daily work, but should be flexible enough to accommodate future changes in direction. For example, OLE initially envisioned that one of the Portal's objectives was to aggregate only existing spatial data. As the Portal was used more by IADOT staff, however, OLE saw an opportunity to add visual components to databases where none existed, to create new geospatial data that could be displayed through the Portal.

Some systems were needed to provide data to the GIS Portal but were not spatially enabled. For example, IADOT's Project Scheduling System did not contain project location geometries, only a description for the project and possibly a reference post.9 The lack of spatial experience in IADOT's Information Technology (IT) Division created challenges with developing the needed database structure and data input practices. Ultimately, a product was created that can be improved in the next phase.

In the future, OLE staff anticipate enhancing the GIS Portal to address user feedback. OLE has already talked with city/county transportation planners to better understand their information needs and is considering providing these and other stakeholders with access to the Portal. Ultimately, OLE would like to make all non-proprietary data available to the public. IADOT is also working to digitize its as-built plans and the boundaries of all highway right-of-ways.

screenshot of a map of Iowa from the IADOT map portal marked with green, yellow, and red circles which displays the location and condition of bridges

Figure 5: IADOT's interactive map portal features a number of publically-available applications, including a bridge condition index, as featured above.

Data-Sharing Benefits

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The Maryland State Highway Administration (MDSHA) is engaging in several data-sharing efforts. First, it developed an Enterprise GIS (eGIS), a geospatial data portal accessible to MDSHA staff that supports internal collaboration, analysis, and decision-making. Since 2009, MDSHA has also contributed to Maryland Integrated Map (MD iMap), a statewide data portal accessible to agencies across Maryland and the public. MDSHA has been involved in recent efforts to improve the functionality and appearance of MD iMap.


MDSHA's eGIS is an ArcGIS API for Flex web mapping application that allows internal agency staff to quickly and easily access an array of geospatial data and thematic content. It focuses primarily on an agency's particular spatial data needs, including project-related information such as project location and status. These data are “housed” in multiple repositories across MDSHA. The portal functions as an aggregator, making it possible for users to query and visualize information from one source without needing to gain access to multiple databases. The portal is administered by MDSHA Office of Planning and Preliminary Engineering staff. Administrators release new versions of eGIS on a quarterly basis that include new datasets and functionalities. For example, staff recently updated eGIS to include a linkage to MDSHA's Model of Sustainability and Integrated Corridors (MOSAIC), an Excel-based tool that estimates the sustainability impact of highway improvements based on user-derived inputs (this tool supports corridor-level transportation planning and environmental screening).

While eGIS as a whole is accessible only to internal MDSHA staff, the agency has made some limited datasets available to the public through JavaScript-based applications. For example, MDSHA developed an application for pedestrians and cyclists that provides information on bike lane locations as well as recreational trails.

The Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) is another transportation business unit within the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT). MDTA can access MDSHA's eGIS system, but MDTA also maintains a separate eGIS system accessible to its own staff. The MDTA eGIS uses Google Earth and ArcGIS to compile information (e.g., stormwater data and bridge and tunnel locations) specific to MDTA's business needs. While all data remain within MDTA's firewall, a limited number of datasets are available to the public and other users.

MDTA and MDSHA collaborate and share information freely. MDHSA noted that this data-sharing is infrequent; however, since the MDTA and MDSHA eGis portals serve different business needs and thus the information in the MDTA portal is not necessarily relevant to MDSHA, and vice versa. All MDOT business units have access to GIS data layers and mapping services.

MDSHA also reported that the agency is currently conducting an informal data “inventory” to assess which business units are collecting and maintaining different geospatial datasets. The intent of this effort is to develop a more strategic approach for adding information to eGIS and ensure proper metadata.

MD iMap
Launched in 2009, MD iMap is Maryland's publically accessible ArcGIS-based geospatial data and mapping portal. MD iMap was initially developed to improve data quality and accessibility, and to reduce costs of services through a collective investment in and strategic application of geographic data and systems on a unified statewide GIS framework. MD iMap is designed to be the authoritative data source for a diverse community of users, including stakeholders from the public, private, and academic sectors.10

MD iMap is administered by two committees11 comprised of executive management officials and GIS specialists representing the portal's contributing partners. These contributors include Federal, State, and local agencies throughout Maryland (including MDSHA).

Currently, the Maryland Geographic Information Office (GIO) (part of the State's Department of Information Technology) is leading an initiative to improve the functionality of the portal by September 2014. The updated and expanded portal (MD iMap 2.0), currently in draft form, will migrate from an Adobe Flex12 environment to JavaScript and ArcGIS Online (AGOL). The new portal will allow contributors to more easily share and access data, as the data will not be tied to a specific type of framework or format. Rather, it will use a template to create a consistent “look and feel” for users).13 Additionally, all map services published through MD iMap 2.0 will have dynamic layers to reflect updates more easily, as well as expanded data download capabilities.

Screenshot from Maryland's Mapping and GIS Data Portal website showing an unlayered map of Maryland and a menu of twenty data categories that can be used to layer over the map

Figure 6: MD iMap, a data gateway accessible to State agencies and to the public, provides users with access to map templates that display geospatial information.

Open Data Portal
While MD iMap is focused on spatial data, Maryland has also deployed an Open Data Portal for non-spatial datasets through the Governor's StateStat Program, which aims to improve the State government's accountability and efficiency. The Open Data Portal is administered by the StateStat Office and the Open Data Executive Committee, which includes executive management officials from multiple State agencies. While AGOL is one of the technical tools that support MD iMap, Socrata is the technical tool for the Open Data group. In April 2014, Maryland passed a new Open Data Bill (Senate Bill 644) into law, which will create an Open Data Council, essentially combining the MD iMap Executive Committee and Open Data Executive Committee into a single advisory group. The law will facilitate the refocusing of initiatives and goals for freely sharing data regardless of the data type.

MDSHA has not developed any formal data-sharing agreements and noted that most data-sharing has historically occurred on an informal basis. However, the Maryland Department of Planning has developed some agreements with counties for parcel and vector data to help update an application called MdProperty View, an ArcGIS-based viewer that provides information on jurisdictions' tax maps and parcel information. MDSHA does meet quarterly with other GIS staff within MDOT and from other State agencies to discuss projects and data collaboration needs. Overall, MDSHA believes that there has been a general trend in public sector agencies toward making information more accessible and open, and that any potential need for developing agreements would likely decrease over time.

Data-Sharing Benefits

Additional Resources

2009 FHWA GIS in Transportation webinar on iMap and other MDSHA initiatives

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The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) is working with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to improve MDC's National Heritage Review (NHR) website and the associated Missouri Natural Heritage Database (MONHD). This collaboration will support enhanced geospatial data quality and accuracy, integrated conservation and transportation planning, and improved project streamlining in Missouri.


MDC developed and maintains the NHR website and MONHD, which are part of MDC's larger Missouri Natural Heritage Review Program. MONHD, which includes a range of biological and ecological data, is a GIS-based tool built using NatureServe's Biotics platform.14 A “heritage coordinator” at MDC is responsible for updating information in the database as provided by partners such as MoDOT and USACE.

The NHR website and MONHD are resources for counties, municipalities, developers, and private contractors to review upcoming projects for impacts to threatened and endangered species, as well as species of conservation concern. Stakeholders can request MDC's assistance to conduct a “heritage review” to identify any potential impacts in the vicinity of their project areas. Using mapping tools and the MONHD, MDC can assess whether a project will potentially affect threatened or endangered species.

In 2013, MDC contacted MoDOT to ask for assistance updating the Missouri Natural Heritage Review Program's construction and transportation best management practices (BMPs), many of which were outdated or non-existent. MDC desired up-to-date, transportation-specific BMPs to provide to contractors working on projects that potentially impacted threatened and endangered species.

MDC is also seeking assistance from MoDOT, FWS, USACE, and DNR to provide recommendations on improvements to the NHR website. These agencies meet periodically to coordinate and compile their recommendations. MoDOT is still in the early stages of identifying potential improvements, but these might include enhancing the website's functionality to display real-time information or adding additional conservation data layers to MONHD.

MoDOT was not involved in the initial development of the NHR website or MONHD, and does not currently use MONHD to access the natural heritage information that is shared by other partners. However, MoDOT expects that once the improvements to the NHR website are complete, the agency will use this website and MONHD more frequently as part of MoDOT's project development, screening, and review processes. Since 2006, MoDOT has used a GIS-based natural heritage data layer that MDC provides on a quarterly basis (via CDs) to screen transportation projects for biological impacts. Before 2006, MDC delivered natural heritage information to MoDOT on paper maps. MoDOT already has a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with MDC stipulating the terms for how MoDOT will provide relevant data for the MONHD.

Implementing Eco-Logical
MoDOT's partnership with MDC, FWS, USACE, DNR, and other agencies to explore enhancements to the NHR website and MONHD is part of a larger effort called Implementing Eco-Logical, an initiative funded by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) as part of the Second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP2).15 In 2013, MoDOT received SHRP2 funding to explore ways to implement the Integrated Ecological Framework (IEF), a nine-step framework for implementing Eco-Logical. As part of MoDOT's Implementing Eco-Logical project, MoDOT and MDC are establishing a new MOU that will outline how the agencies will share natural resource information, integrate transportation and conservation planning, and establish BMPs to protect sensitive species from transportation project impacts.

Other Data-Sharing Partnerships
MoDOT also partners with DNR and Missouri State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) to share geospatial data through the SHPO's Missouri Cultural Resource Inventory database (CRID).16 The CRID is available to researchers and professional archaeologists conducting NHPA Section 106 consultations; MoDOT also uses the CRID to support planning and project reviews. MoDOT and the SHPO have a data-sharing agreement specifying how the agencies will share archaeological data.

Layered map of Missouri from Missouri's National Heritage Database which is covered with symbols of different shapes and colors to mark locations of various environmental resources

Figure 7: The Missouri National Heritage Database features maps displaying locations of environmental resources in the State.

Data-Sharing Benefits

MoDOT anticipates that improving the NHR website and MONHD will help MoDOT apply a more integrated transportation and conservation planning approach. Doing so will streamline MoDOT's environmental review process during transportation project planning and development. It will also allow the agency to better assess the impacts of transportation on sensitive natural resources within the State. Further, the improved website and database will allow counties, municipalities, and other stakeholders to access more robust biological and environmental data, improving their decision-making processes.

MoDOT reported that its data-sharing agreement with the SHPO has also dramatically expedited the process of completing NHPA Section 106 consultations. While archaeological research for consultations once required a physical trip to the University of Missouri's site files, cultural resource data can now be accessed instantly and remotely through the CRID.

Data-Sharing Challenges

Additional Resources

Missouri State Historic Preservation Office website

MOUs between MoDOT and MDC/DNR/SHPO can be shared upon request.

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The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) recently implemented MDT ArcGIS Online (MDT AGOL), a data portal modeled after Utah DOT's AGOL-based UPLAN. The purpose of the MDT AGOL site is to provide a common access point for both internal and external users (including the public and MDT's partner agencies) to access, visualize, and share MDT's geospatial data.


In fall 2012, staff within MDT's Road Inventory and Mapping Section (RIM) learned about UDOT's UPLAN and identified numerous benefits stemming from creating a similar portal at MDT. RIM began exploring how an MDT AGOL site might work and joined the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials' (AASHTO) Technology Implementation Group (TIG) based on UPLAN in January 2013. This TIG is encouraging States to adopt data-sharing frameworks similar to the UPLAN portal.

As part of its work with the TIG, RIM began testing AGOL in early 2013 to determine how the platform could best support MDT's data-sharing needs while following a documented test plan. During these initial pilot tests, RIM documented the opportunities and challenges that AGOL offered through conducting a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis. RIM also produced a best practices manual that customizes Esri's AGOL guidance to MDT's business needs. Further, RIM held biweekly meetings with other MDT business units to solicit and share feedback on what was working well with the test site and what could be improved. Through these meetings, RIM sought to garner support and increase excitement for implementing a fully rolled-out, publically accessible MDT AGOL site.


  • Enhances collaboration and unity by simplifying access to maps and data allowing better communication
  • Data availability allowing the user to discover, use, create, and manage spatial data layers
  • Transparency of data and actions, while helping to comply with MAP-21 regulations
  • Enforces data quality by establishing a common platform that ensures data is reliable and consistent
  • Increases efficiency and productivity for MDT in the management and delivery of projects
  • Minimizes investment and cost to MDT for an interactive web mapping platform and collaborative content management system
  • Helps meet the growing demand for web maps, both simple and complex


  • Unknown version upgrade process may affect MDT applications such as web browsers
  • Internet connection is required at all times
  • File size limitation on uploading of data
  • Disconnects data from MDT applications by creating another possible layer of data management
  • Speed can be an issue for large datasets
  • Esri account needed to create maps
  • Updates to disconnected datasets not automatically posted
  • Standards: hosted services do not comply to federal or industry standards (OGC) -


  • Contributes to uniformity, along with other western states, in reporting data to federal programs like HPMS and MAP-21 that have extensive data requirements
  • Accessibility of MDT data available externally and internally
  • Improved collaboration of MDT data
  • Technology development and innovation
  • Maintain database accuracy, consistency, and reliability
  • Quick win solution to display spatial and tabular data


  • IT developments
  • Better alternatives from a competitor
  • New technologies, services, ideas
  • Sustained internal capabilities
  • Loss of key staffing
  • Future costs to maintain

Figure 8: MDT's SWOT analysis documented the opportunities and challenges that AGOL presented to the agency.

MDT launched the public version of MDT AGOL in January 2014. The site is accessible to anyone who is a member of the MDT AGOL site, but the site's administrative staff can give external partners who are not members the ability to edit and create data. The site currently contains a variety of mapping applications as well as MDT and publically accessible data on environmental features, transportation infrastructure, corridor studies, and other transportation-related elements. AGOL serves to aggregate and compile these data into a centralized access point; most of the data is “housed” and maintained in a variety of ArcGIS server-based applications maintained by different business units across MDT. RIM ensures that AGOL compliments existing data services by embedding specific AGOL map viewers into relevant web pages where users are accustomed to accessing the type of data they need.

Over the long-term, RIM aims to encourage and train AGOL “power users” within each of the agency's business units who can serve as experts to help other staff use the site. The power-user training includes a broad overview of the system and then gives trainees the opportunity to ask questions about their particular business units' needs. RIM believes that this decentralized knowledge structure will reduce the time that any one staff person needs to spend on addressing questions and will allow all staff more time to focus on daily tasks. This will also help ensure that data owners continue to retain responsibility for maintaining their own datasets.

Agreements and Evaluation
RIM did not develop any formal data-sharing agreements, structures, or metadata standards to outline how internal staff or partner agencies should contribute information to the AGOL site. Rather, the best practices manual functions as a de facto guide clarifying data owners' responsibilities and processes for sharing and maintaining data through the AGOL site. The manual is suggestive rather than prescriptive. RIM reported that maintaining a looser set of guidelines has helped encourage data contributions to the AGOL site and has ensured quality datasets. In the absence of strict requirements, individuals are able to retain a sense of ownership over their datasets and they possess a genuine desire to contribute information. Staff do have to fill out a form; however, to develop an interactive web map and MDT AGOL administrative staff will inspect any and all maps and data that are publically accessible on the site.

MDT has not developed any quantitative measures to formally assess the benefits being derived from the AGOL site. RIM staff; however, do keep track of users' success stories. This feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and RIM hopes to collect enough anecdotal evidence to be able to analyze and quantify the site's impact more formally in the future.

Lessons Learned
RIM believed that taking time up front to involve potential users and obtain their feedback during AGOL's pilot phases was critical to successfully launching the site. Pilot testing also provided opportunities to educate users on accessing the site and creating customized maps and visualizations. To provide an ongoing forum for obtaining feedback, RIM is also a member of an inter-agency working group that meets regularly and includes staff from the State Library; the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks; the Montana Department of Environmental Quality; and the State Information Technology Services Division; and others.

Data-Sharing Benefits

Additional Resources

AGOL test plan and best practices manual available upon request from MDT

TIG Fast Facts: MDT AGOL

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The Nebraska Department of Roads (NDOR) developed and now maintains a centralized GIS-based tool for all NDOR staff called the Nebraska Enterprise Centerline Transportation Attribute Resource (NECTAR), which is only accessible to internal users working from within NDOR's firewall and provides users with a convenient way to access and visualize a range of transportation-related information.

NDOR also plans to contribute to a statewide data portal called NebraskaMAP. The intent of NebraskaMAP is to provide a multi-use enterprise platform to allow multiple methods for State agencies and the public to access Nebraska geospatial data. NDOR is not leading the NebraskaMAP initiative but assists with this effort in coordination with several other State agencies.


NDOR developed NECTAR in 2003 in response to an agency GIS strategic plan that identified the need to compile GIS-based data to enable more streamlined information access. NECTAR is a web portal that combines tabular data and displays it on maps for the entire department, including district offices, enabling them to make decisions more efficiently. The goal of NECTAR is to provide NDOR staff with convenient, “one-stop” access to a wide variety of data including maintenance activities, construction projects, fatal crash, guardrail, and bridge locations, and other information related to roads, bridges, railroads, and average daily traffic (ADT). While NECTAR does not store any data, it allows users to easily query information that resides in multiple databases across the agency and to easily visualize these data using NECTAR's mapping templates and viewer.17

Most recently, NDOR considered and implemented ways to expand and enhance NECTAR. For example, the agency is creating an Internet version of the tool to allow expanded access to NECTAR's data. NDOR noted that when implementing these modifications it will be important to ensure that the tool continues to be seen as an integral part of staff workflows. Furthermore, all NECTAR data is open source, meaning that it is available to be shared without acquiring permission from data owners. Any modifications made to NECTAR should not change this requirement for open source data.

NDOR is currently drafting a project proposal to outline the need for modifications. The document will address the following key questions:

NDOR plans to complete this proposal by April 2014.

An NDOR GIS Committee comprised of members from various NDOR business units (e.g., Planning & Project Development, Business Technology Support, NDOR's District One office) is also identifying new priority data layers and services to potentially add to NECTAR.

Screenshot from NECTAR showing a Right-of-Way GIS Layer Demo which shows a satellite image of a section of a road and the surrounding area. Various colored symbols and lines are overlaid on top of the image to mark property lines, existing easements, etc.

Figure 9: NECTAR features a number of data layers, including right-of-way, as demonstrated above.

The Nebraska Information Technology Commission (NITC) GIS Council, the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO), and the NebraskaMAP Working Group are leading the NebraskaMAP effort. NDOR is part of this working group, which also includes representatives from other State agencies, city and county governments, and other organizations.

NebraskaMAP is considered the State's clearinghouse and provides access to the Nebraska Spatial Data Infrastructure (NESDI) and other commonly used geospatial data in Nebraska. NESDI comprises geospatial data layers with multiple applications used by many stakeholders, including imagery, elevation, street centerlines, point addressing, land use/land cover, and transportation data.

Currently, NebraskaMAP provides more than 242 geospatial metadata and some access to server web mapping services for use in State agency basemap applications. The metadata follow Federal and State standards and are referenced in the Random Access Metadata for Online Nationwide Assessments (RAMONA) database.18 Data stewards can upload data to NebraskaMAP on a voluntary basis. Once uploaded, data are peer-reviewed for completeness by an ad hoc team to make sure that NITC metadata standards are met; then data are released for full access through the clearinghouse.

NebraskaMAP's working group members are currently engaging in efforts to enhance NebraskaMAP and increase its functionality. For example, efforts are underway to implement direct downloading for NebraskaMAP's data and the ability for users to access information through web and mobile services. These and other enhancements, as well as continued maintenance efforts, are likely to be jointly funded by several State agencies (including NDOR) and other Federal and local agency partners.

Data-Sharing Benefits

Additional Resources

FHWA GIS in Transportation Winter 2010 Newsletter – includes article referencing NECTAR

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The New Hampshire Audubon's (NHA) wildlife-connectivity model informs conservation and land use planning by identifying wildlife connectivity zones in New Hampshire. This GIS-based model includes data on 16 representative species that illustrate four key wildlife populations (habitat generalists, habitat specialists, area sensitive, and barrier sensitive species), as well as landscape features (land cover, distance to road, slope, and distance to riparian areas).


The wildlife-connectivity model was developed by NHA and the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department (NHDFG) through a grant from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. The model was refined and tested using an additional grant that NHA received in September 2008 under Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Eco-Logical program. Eco-Logical sought to pilot a new, ecosystem-scale approach to infrastructure development and funded 15 projects across the country. Each project aimed to apply the principles of Eco-Logical, focusing on promoting multiagency coordination to support an ecosystem-based approach to conservation and environmental mitigation.

Screenshot of NHA's wildlife connectivity model showing conservation blocks of at least 500 acres within 10 miles of a project

Figure 10: NHA's wildlife-connectivity model presents wildlife connectivity zones in New Hampshire to help inform conservation and land use planning.

NHA convened a working group as part of the Eco-Logical grant. This group, made up of representatives from Federal and State agencies, nonprofits, a regional planning organization, and the private sector, identified processes to better incorporate conservation into transportation planning. The group specifically collaborated to identify major conservation data gaps. To address some of these data gaps, NHA worked jointly with NHDFG to develop the wildlife-connectivity model; the agencies also worked with some outside consultants to obtain species-specific data to include in the model. NHA and NHDFG did not develop any documents to formalize their partnership; the process to create the model was fairly informal.

The model was completed in April 2010. Primary users include State government, metropolitan/regional planning organizations (M/RPOs), and non-profits. Local government agencies contact NHA if they are interested in using the model as part of their local land-use planning efforts. NHA then helps these agencies apply the model and analyze the results. Most recently, the Town of Lebanon requested assistance from NHA in using the model. Lebanon also expressed interest in adding its own local data to the model, but NHA was not involved in this effort.

Since the model's completion in April 2010, NHDFG has updated the model to incorporate information in the State's wildlife action plan. However, NHA does not anticipate making any major changes to the model and noted that developing and using GIS-based technologies are only a small portion of its current work.

Data-Sharing Benefits

Additional Resources

Overview of the wildlife-connectivity model in 2009 FHWA report on GIS Applications in Eco-Logical Grant Projects

Update on the model in 2011 FHWA review of Eco-Logical grant projects

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The New York State DOT (NYSDOT) is engaging in several efforts to integrate geospatial data and improve the accessibility of geospatial information for agency staff, partner agencies, and the general public. NYSDOT is establishing an Enterprise Linear Referencing System (ELRS) that will provide a single, authoritative representation of New York's State-owned highway network, enabling business data integration among NYSDOT's range of business systems. When completed, the ELRS will provide a framework to concisely locate all of the agency's asset management- and roadway-related geospatial data. NYSDOT is also contributing to State initiatives to expand New York's existing GIS Clearinghouse into a platform of geospatial web services that provides authoritative sources of GIS data and common geocoding and geoprocessing services.


NYSDOT maintains several web-based applications to store and share asset management- and operations-related data, including the Comprehensive Asset Management/Capital Improvement (CAMCI) Viewer (internal-only), Traffic Data Viewer, Prescreening Tool for Oversize/Overweight Vehicles, Road Status/Damage Assessment System (internal-only), and the Accident Location Information System (internal-only). While these systems have served the needs of their intended customers well, they are supported by distinct and somewhat divided internal systems. Business processes that require information from more than one NYSDOT system have typically required duplicated data and/or manual processes to combine business data in useful ways. Recently, NYSDOT decided to better enable business system integration among these systems and others by leveraging a comprehensive ELRS using Esri's Roads and Highways platform. NYSDOT anticipates that the resulting ELRS will serve as the agency's comprehensive roadway network to maintain consistent location references and asset information across all business units.

The initiative to develop the ELRS began in July 2013, and NYSDOT expects it will be complete by spring 2015. Esri is assisting NYSDOT with the design and implementation of the Roads and Highways solution. NYSDOT is approximately halfway through the project and system design is nearly complete. While some business data will be managed inside the Roads and Highways solution, the ELRS will integrate directly with external systems, allowing those systems to reflect the most current highway network and the impact of changes to the business data maintained in the system. ELRS will be integrated with NYSDOT's new AgileAssets enterprise asset management system, NYSDOT's Roadway Inventory System, and the current safety analysis systems. The ELRS lays a foundation for NYSDOT's overall vision to more reliably maintain information on the highway network and streamline access to the agency's business data. NYSDOT is also collaborating with several other State DOTs and transportation agencies through a Roads and Highways User Group to establish best practices for implementation of the Roads and Highways solution.

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Portal
Prior to building the ELRS, NYSDOT implemented a publically accessible Recovery Act website for reporting and sharing a variety of information on programs and projects funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Data on all programs is reported through the ARRA database using a specialized application developed specifically for ARRA. All Federal reports provided to USDOT are accessible and available via the website in order to ensure funding is transparent. One valuable and innovative development included data updates for all highway and bridge projects on a nightly basis to make that timely and accurate information is available for anyone. These projects are also all geospatially referenced and individual project data reports available. Performance data, including employment reporting, disadvantaged business enterprise participation, expenditures, and accomplishments, is also shared on the site. A highlight of the ARRA highway and bridge program includes the ability to download all data into a spreadsheet format for effective accessing and tracking of all project records. The ARRA application made it possible to upload and download project data for sharing with oversight agencies in a seamless and automated way. Another innovative capability developed by the ARRA program is the creation of the ARRA data warehouse which pulled data from several other transactional data systems such as the construction management system, the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, and Fiscal Management Information System for management and reporting purposes. This tool has helped streamline information access and communications across the agency and with the public.

Screenshot of an interactive map on NYDOT's ARRA Portal showing a map of New York state marked with numerous red Google markers. A Google infoWindow rises up from one of the red markers and displays project details

Figure 11: NYSDOT's ARRA Portal presents a variety of information on programs and projects funded through the ARRA.

State GIS Clearinghouse
In addition to implementing the ELRS, NYSDOT also participates with other State agencies on data-sharing efforts. For example, NYSDOT contributes data to the State GIS Clearinghouse, which is maintained by the State's Office of Information Technology Services. This publically accessible clearinghouse compiles and shares geospatial information from over 1,000 Federal, local, and State agencies—as well as Tribal governments, non-profits, and academic organizations. GIS Clearinghouse contributors are by definition also part of the NYS GIS Data Sharing Cooperative. While many GIS datasets on the GIS Clearinghouse are available for public download, some datasets are only restricted to Cooperative members (public sector, not-for-profit, academia). Cooperative members must sign a data-sharing agreement that outlines the terms through which geospatial data is shared.

Open NY
NYSDOT also contributes data to Open NY, a data portal launched in 2013 per Executive Order 95. Open NY serves as a one-stop data portal for all of New York State's agencies. New York recognized that modern technological advancements and the use of data have dramatically changed the way government conducts business. New York provided an innovative means to harness these innovations and meet public expectations with respect to the accessibility of government data and information. Open NY created an extraordinary opportunity to explore, discover, and utilize data in ways never before possible. Through Open NY, New York State is promoting transparency, accountability, and efficiency; supporting a new level of collaboration between government and the public; and fostering innovation, business development, and scientific research. The portal includes downloadable datasets compiled from State agencies providing direct access to a significant amount of data. NYSDOT data sets include bridge and pavement conditions, 511 information, Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT) and a host of other data sets.

NYSDOT staff also contribute to the State's ShareGIS initiative. In May 2013, the State's Office of the Information Technology Services established New York's first Geographic Information Officer (GIO). Since that time, the GIO has been working with an advisory group of agency GIS leads on a number of enterprise geospatial initiatives to standardize the State's geospatial data, making this data more widely available to agencies as well as the general public. To implement this vision, the GIO and GIS Team are exploring options to expand the functionality of the GIS Clearinghouse. The resulting portal will be called ShareGIS.

As conceptualized by the GIO and GIS Team, the main difference between the existing GIS Clearinghouse and ShareGIS is that the latter will host live GIS data via web services, which means users will be able to access current and authoritative information directly from GIS software or custom applications without first needing to download and store the data. ShareGIS will provide capabilities similar to UDOT's UPLAN, but the scope is larger because it is envisioned to eventually serve all State and local agencies as well as the general public. While ShareGIS is likely to leverage the Esri ArcGIS Online platform, ShareGIS will be capable of providing geospatial data and geoprocessing services from any proprietary or open source technology. Ultimately, ShareGIS may replace the GIS Clearinghouse entirely, but ShareGIS is still in the early stages of development. NYSDOT expects that ShareGIS will rapidly expand over time as more users contribute information and take advantage of the current and authoritative data sources available through the portal.

Data-Sharing Benefits

NYSDOT reported several benefits stemming from its data-sharing efforts, including:

Additional Resources

State of New York Executive Order on “Using Technology to Promote Transparency, Improve Government Performance and Enhance Citizen Engagement” - March 2013

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Nevada DOT's (NDOT) Planning and Needs System (PLANS) will be a centralized portal for collecting, maintaining, and tracking geospatial information and other data related to transportation projects at all stages of development. PLANS is still in the early stages of evolution and has not yet been implemented. NDOT anticipates that PLANS will help the agency take a more comprehensive view of transportation projects to streamline project development, improve communications and information-sharing with partner agencies and the public, and make transportation decision-making more transparent.


The need for PLANS emerged from a NDOT meeting on FHWA's Every Day Counts (EDC) initiative. During that meeting, staff determined that NDOT was using several different systems for tracking transportation project needs and project development. Staff identified an opportunity to consolidate this information into a single GIS-based platform. This platform—now known as PLANS—will present a holistic view of transportation projects at all stages of development from needs identification to planning to implementation. PLANS will also allow users to visualize where projects are located and how they interact with environmental or other features. NDOT believes that shifting to a needs-based system (as represented by PLANS) will help staff make more strategic project decisions and support collaboration earlier in the planning phase.

Current Processes
NDOT envisions that PLANS will replace the current process for collecting project information from counties and districts, which involves conducting annual outreach to learn about project updates. Information is generally gathered from paper maps and there is no common framework that allows NDOT to take a strategic view of the State's planned, ongoing, and constructed transportation projects.

Currently, NDOT has some cooperative agreements (each covering a two- to four-year period) with counties to outline formal guidelines for geospatial data-sharing, such as for county road data and raster or vector GIS data. NDOT is also developing a separate agreement with utility companies to obtain utilities geospatial data. Engaging in data-sharing agreements; however, has not been a major priority for NDOT; furthermore, the process of obtaining geospatial data from partner agencies has generally occurred on an ad hoc basis. NDOT anticipates that, once fully implemented, PLANS will be a repository for storing and managing project information, as well as a mechanism for gathering information in a more strategic, organized way.

Implementing PLANS will be a phased effort that will include participation from various NDOT business units, including the Location Division/GIS Section and Department of Public Involvement & Planning. In the first phase, NDOT put applications for project funding into a single format, shared these online, and developed a project initiation form. As a next step, NDOT will produce an electronic Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan (E-STIP) for fiscal year 2016. This E-STIP will provide a basis for conducting a workflow analysis to better understand how project data are currently collected, managed, and shared within the agency. NDOT will then create an online application form and interactive map through which users can select a GIS data point to identify a project location. In the second phase, NDOT will issue a request for proposals (RFP) to further develop a PLANS workflow, create a system architecture, and detail the process for integrating various data layers that are currently owned and managed by various stakeholders within and outside of NDOT. Users will be able to search for and view transportation needs in a given area and better evaluate potential projects as a result. NDOT expects that PLANS will ultimately be accessible to all external partner agencies across the State (such as metropolitan planning organizations) as well as the public; however, NDOT will likely retain the ability to approve and control what partner data are shared through PLANS.

NDOT has encountered several challenges related to developing PLANS including staffing limitations and changes in leadership that have made it difficult to build forward momentum on the project. Additionally, project data are now “siloed” in different locations throughout the agency, making it difficult to identify where information is located and determine how to integrate it into one framework. Finally, it has been challenging for NDOT to encourage the organizational changes that will be necessary to fully implement PLANS, such as changing NDOT's culture from a project-driven environment to a needs-driven one.

NDOT has found several helpful resources to address these challenges. For example, NDOT has referenced other State data-sharing and integration models—particularly the Utah DOT's UPLAN—to discern lessons learned that could be applicable to PLANS. NDOT has also worked with FHWA representatives to develop the list of project sites, E-STIP, and RFP submissions.

Data-Sharing Benefits

Additional Resources

NDOT Location Division/GIS Section

NDOT Department of Public Involvement & Planning

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The North Carolina DOT (NCDOT) developed the Spatial Data Viewer (SDV) (retired site), an ArcGIS Explorer-based data library, to consolidate and spatially enable over 40 of the agency's transportation and environmental data layers, including highway infrastructure, county/municipal boundaries, topography, and hydrography. Most recently, NCDOT linked the SDV to a larger effort called Go!NC. Go!NC is an Esri ArcGIS Online (AGOL)-based data portal that consolidates, aggregates, and shares the agency's geospatial information with users both within and outside NCDOT. NCDOT also makes its geospatial data available to NC OneMap, a statewide geospatial data portal administered by the NC Geographic Information Coordinating Council.


SDV and Go!NC
NCDOT initially developed the SDV as an internal tool to consolidate the agency's geospatial data and allow staff access to data in one location, create and comment on maps, and easily share data with others. The SDV was designed for a technical user. Due to its governance structure, users were unable to publish data to the library on their own (publishing data was a multi-step process involving a review by information technology staff).

As NCDOT learned of new web-based data-sharing technologies, the agency began to explore ways to develop a “second generation” SDV that could serve a broader range of users—including those without advanced GIS expertise—and support more streamlined data publishing. NCDOT identified AGOL as a useful data-sharing platform that could potentially replace or complement the SDV based on several factors. First, AGOL allows refinement of user permission levels. An administrator can provide certain users or user groups with the ability to view, edit, or publish data, or do all three. Users can therefore publish data on their own. Second, AGOL has cloud-based data storage options, which NCDOT believed would help expand its ability to share more information with more users.

To learn from others' experiences in using AGOL, NCDOT joined the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials' (AASHTO) Technology Implementation Group (TIG), which focused on sharing the Utah Department of Transportation's UPLAN model. As a member of the TIG, NCDOT focused on developing an NCDOT AGOL site called Go!NC, which was launched in October 2013. Go!NC is publically accessible and aggregates a wide variety of data layers and mapping applications from across NCDOT. These data layers and mapping applications provide information on environmental features, boundaries, transportation infrastructure, and others. NCDOT anticipates that in the future, external stakeholders, including other State agencies, will be able to contribute to Go!NC as well.

The now publically accessible SDV is no longer considered to be NCDOT's primary data portal (although it contains information reflected in Go!NC). Rather, NCDOT considers SDV to be a companion tool to Go!NC. SDV supports more advanced business analysis that goes beyond the functionality of Go!NC and allows different users to access highly customized datasets or views. For example, the North Carolina State Ports Authority (NC Ports), which is part of NCDOT, uses the SDV to access its own customized viewer for published NCDOT data.

Go!NC is administered by a steering committee comprised of six staff within NCDOT's GIS unit. This administrative group sets some quality control standards, minimum metadata standards, and has outlined roles and responsibilities for various data owners within NCDOT. These standards reduce the likelihood of publishing duplicative or poor quality datasets, and makes clear which owners will be responsible for specific datasets. When a business unit within NCDOT wants to publish data to the site, it discusses the quality control standards with the Go!NC administrative group. The group will then designate specific users as “data owners.” As long as owners follow the relevant standards, they can publish data directly to Go!NC.

Screenshot from the Go!NC gateway that shows a map of North Carolina marked with colored dots to show locations of paving materials: red for asphalt, blue for ready mix, green for fine aggregate, and orange for coarse aggregate

Figure 12: Go!NC is an AGOL-based gateway that consolidates, aggregates, and shares geospatial information, such as the location of paving materials, as displayed here.

NC OneMap
NC OneMap contains an array of geospatial information ranging from county digital orthophotos to utilities infrastructure. NCDOT contributes data to NC OneMap, usually via linked web services. The datasets available for download on NC OneMap are updated on a quarterly basis. While NCDOT views NC OneMap as an important data-sharing resource, the agency would like to keep its focus on developing and maintaining Go!NC to retain a distinct “brand” for NCDOT's data.

NCDOT has not yet developed any memoranda of understanding (MOU) or agreements to specify how information will be shared as part of Go!NC. NCDOT reported that the State’s GIS community is fairly tight-knit; agencies have typically relied on informal understandings about how and what information will be shared. Further, NCDOT believes that, in some circumstances, an MOU or data-sharing agreement might actually detract a potential data contributor from wanting to share information, since developing the agreement can take time and resources. NCDOT also noted that these agreements can help ensure that datasets are not duplicative and establish strong working relationships, particularly with some county governments that have not historically shared geospatial data with NCDOT.

Data-Sharing Benefits

NCDOT identified a number of benefits stemming from implementation of Go!NC in particular as based on anecdotal evidence. To date, NCDOT has not developed performance measures to evaluate Go!NC or the SDV, although it may consider doing so in the future.

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The North Dakota DOT (NDDOT) recently implemented an Esri ArcGIS Online (AGOL)-based data portal that serves as a publically accessible and centralized “aggregator” of NDDOT's geospatial data and mapping applications.


NDDOT launched its AGOL site in fall 2013. NDDOT's Information Technology Unit (ITU) is still in the early stages of rolling out this site and publicizing it to users both within and outside NDDOT. ITU anticipates that the data being shared through AGOL currently and in the future will support agency staff in more effective transportation planning, project development, and asset management. ITU also expects the site to assist the traveling public. For example, the site contains a travel information map through which the public can identify real-time traffic conditions and make better decisions about when and how to travel.

Through developing the NDDOT AGOL site, ITU intends to provide agency staff and others with easier, more efficient access to the agency's existing mapping applications, as well as a more standardized visual experience for consuming geospatial information. ITU identified AGOL as one of many ways to expose the agency's spatial data to external users and to create a user-friendly interface for collecting and visualizing existing information. The site does not store any data but rather helps aggregate existing data that may be “housed” in disparate servers across the agency.

The site currently offers links for easy access to seven non-AGOL mapping applications, including:

Screenshot from NDDOT's Transportation Information Map showing a close up map of Bismarck marked with colored circles and squares to show traffic count levels

Figure 13: Screenshot of the Transportation Information Map.

ITU is also beginning to use the ArcGIS Collector application to support mobile data collection. Through this application, staff in the field can edit NDDOT hosted data through NDDOT's AGOL site with a smartphone. ITU is considering next steps for an approach to disseminate the site more widely and train staff in its use. ITU does not currently collect any quantitative data on the extent to which people are using the site. NDDOT has not developed any formal agreements to document the AGOL site's data-sharing processes.

In addition to the AGOL site, NDDOT uses ArcGIS for Server and an Esri Spatial Data Engine-based data warehouse that serve as repositories for geospatial information. Further, NDDOT shares appropriate data with the ND Hub GIS Portal (NDHub). The NDHub is the statewide geospatial data clearinghouse administered by the State Information Technology Department and the State GIS Technical Committee, of which NDDOT is a member.

Data-Sharing Challenges and Benefits

Additional Resources

North Dakota Geographic Information Systems

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The Transportation Information Mapping System (TIMS) is Ohio DOT's (ODOT) web-based portal for the agency's transportation-related geospatial information. The purpose of TIMS is to provide a resource for ODOT staff, Federal, State and local agencies in Ohio, as well as the public, to more easily locate, visualize, and share transportation data. TIMS fosters streamlined data-sharing, increased collaboration, and accelerated project development. In addition to TIMS, ODOT is engaging in several other data-sharing and integration efforts that include developing standards for the agency's asset management information.


ODOT's Office of Technical Services launched TIMS in 2013. Prior to the creation of TIMS, data at ODOT were housed in various databases and maintained by different business units across the agency. Often, multiple business areas collected and maintained overlapping datasets, which led to redundancies and confusion. To improve data-sharing within the agency, ODOT decided to develop a centralized portal to allow a user to query, visualize, and analyze data using a standardized format. TIMS now includes 40 datasets. As part of its second phase of development, which is currently in process, TIMS will become the enterprise system and double the number of datasets it currently provides.

TIMS users include ODOT staff, and partner agencies such as the State's metropolitan planning organizations, regional planning organizations, counties, and local governments, many of which do not have access to transportation-related geospatial resources or data of their own. Through TIMS, users can visualize data, extract datasets into Microsoft Excel, upload their own data, and print or email customized maps. These capabilities help support more informed transportation analysis and decision-making.

TIMS is divided into two segments: a “front-end” application that provides an interface for users to access information and a “back-end” database that pulls data from existing databases into a centralized Oracle database. ODOT's Office of Technical Services administers TIMS and publishes data to the site, but does not consider itself the owner of TIMS' datasets. Rather, ODOT relies on individual data owners to share their data, set any necessary restrictions on their information, and maintain data quality. Data owners include business units within ODOT or partner agencies. TIMS also has the ability to “pull” data from partner agencies' web services to allow TIMS to instantly reflect any changes or updates to the data, but ODOT has not yet implemented this ability. Some of TIMS' datasets are updated on an annual, weekly, or daily basis.

Future Directions
ODOT currently uses TIMS as its primary resource for consolidating and sharing the agency's geospatial information. ODOT is moving forward to implement Esri's Roads and Highways as a tool for compiling roadway network data and helping the agency better assess expenditures on highway projects. ODOT plans to use TIMS to complement Roads and Highways to share information with agency leadership on a quarterly basis.

In addition to these efforts, ODOT plans to implement a second phase of TIMS. This will include enhancing TIMS' ability to support field-based data entry through mobile or tablet devices, and refining TIMS by applying standards that address inconsistencies in terminology and code. For example, to more clearly communicate complex roadway attribute data, ODOT is developing a standardized data dictionary that will become part of TIMS. This initiative is in its early stages; however, and at a minimum will result in producing a document for each dataset that provides a description and definitions for each field. Ideally, the dictionary will be accessed as a webpage or linked to the dataset within TIMS for easy access. ODOT is also expanding TIMS' existing roadway inventory data to include route types and other characteristics. Finally, ODOT is pursuing new partnerships to share information. For example, ODOT is now engaging in a partnership with the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, which is developing a sidewalk inventory. This information will be provided to the ODOT safety program, which will then work with the TIMS project team to publish the data through TIMS.

Screenshot from ODOT's TIM portal with brief directions and icons of primary data classifications: Assets, Road Inventory, Boundaries, Traffic Counts, Projects, and Safety

Figure 14: ODOT's TIMS is a publically-available portal for the agency's transportation-related geospatial information, such as traffic counts, construction projects, and assets, as demonstrated above.

Other Data-Sharing Efforts

Ohio Geographic Reference Information System (OGRIP)
ODOT takes part in OGRIP, which is part of the State Office of Information Technologies. OGRIP sets statewide data standards, engages in data integration initiatives, and develops data-sharing protocols for ODOT and other State agencies. For example, OGRIP coordinated a multi-agency initiative to collect one-foot statewide Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data.

Due to Ohio's Open Records and Open Meeting laws, known as the “Sunshine Laws,” geospatial data in Ohio are widely available except where specifically restricted. There are some data-sharing agreements between State agencies, but generally speaking there are not many formal interagency data-sharing agreements in Ohio. In the early 2000s; however, OGRIP began developing more formal procedures for local data collection by creating a Location Based Response System (LBRS). The purpose of the LBRS is to reduce redundant data collection among local governments in Ohio. Participating agencies sign a memorandum of understanding with OGRIP and compile data that adhere to LBRS formats and standards. Working with OGRIP, ODOT facilitates local data collection by providing funding to State and local agencies to collect and maintain LBRS data if they share these data with ODOT. To date, 79 of Ohio's 88 counties have participated in ODOT's initiative. LBRS data have been incorporated into portions of the ODOT road inventory dataset.

Asset Management
TIMS already includes some ODOT asset data (e.g., roads, bridges, culverts) but ODOT is developing a better process for coordinating data collection.19 Staff in business units across ODOT are meeting as part of an asset management leadership team to define ODOT's priority asset management data, how data are currently collected and maintained, and how activities could be better coordinated. ODOT anticipates that the end result of this effort will be a system or structure that will support agency staff in more easily accessing and using asset management information. This system might be integrated as part of TIMS' second phase.

Data-Sharing Benefits

Additional Resources

Transportation Information Mapping System (TIMS) Introductory Video

FHWA 2013 case study report on Uses of Cloud Technologies for Geospatial Applications: Case Study on Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC)

ODOT's Office of Environmental Services (OES) has data-sharing agreements with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the SHPO (to share information on culturally or historically sensitive information that impacts infrastructure projects) that can be shared upon request.

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The Pennsylvania DOT's (PennDOT) PennShare (currently in a pilot testing phase) uses an Esri ArcGIS Online (AGOL) platform to provide a centralized portal for a broad range of internal and external users to access, share, and visualize PennDOT's geospatial data, particularly project and environmental information. PennShare provides an easy-to-use mechanism for disseminating geospatial information with executive decision-makers and other users through a cloud-based application.


PennShare is currently being piloted. As such, it provides access to only a limited number of mapping applications focused on PennDOT's asset and condition data. PennDOT anticipates that the number of mapping application will grow once PennShare is fully rolled out and becomes publically accessible (anticipated in summer 2014). The pilot version of PennShare is accessible to approximately 100 PennDOT staff and staff from Pennsylvania's metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs). When it is complete, PennShare will be available to several PennDOT partner agencies, including the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and county governments in the State.

PennDOT is developing PennShare as part of its work with the Association of American State Highway and Transportation Officials' (AASHTO) Technology Implementation Group (TIG) based on Utah DOT's UPLAN. Through this TIG, PennDOT and several other States are developing AGOL sites modeled after UPLAN and are sharing lessons learned. PennShare and UPLAN will be similar in some respects (e.g., both are AGOL-based platforms) but there will be some key differences. For example, PennDOT will have formal data review and metadata requirements. UDOT does not have a centralized administration entity for UPLAN and data owners can publish their data directly to the site with a basic review by data “gatekeepers.”

PennShare will be administered by a centralized group within PennDOT's Bureau of Planning and Research (BPR). The group, called the PennDOT Next Generation (PNG) team, will be responsible for reviewing all of the geospatial information that individual data owners submit to PennShare and ensuring that it meets quality standards. The PNG team will also add official tags to PennShare maps to protect authoritative source data.

PNG will either publish this information to the portal or grant publishing rights to data owners who represent PennDOT's district and central office staff and partner agencies. These individuals will then be able to create their own maps on PennShare and share them with other registered users, including the public. Ultimately, BPR anticipates that most of PennShare's information will be made accessible to the public (with the exception of some controlled datasets such as archaeological sites), although the public will not have data publishing privileges.

PennDOT is currently working to formalize policies for PennShare. For example, PennDOT recently produced a resource guide to document PennShare's data management, user access, and security processes, among others. PennDOT already has data-sharing agreements in place with its planning partners to specify how their information will be used for PennShare.

Screenshot from a document that lists the five initiatives of PennDOT's Next Generation effort: Projects, Mapping The Future, Modernization Initiatives, State Transportation Innovation Council, and IdeaLink

Figure 15: The PennDOT Next Generation effort comprises several distinct initiatives.

Data-Sharing Benefits

PennDOT decided to work with the AASHTO TIG to develop PennShare after learning about the benefits that UPLAN brought to UDOT. PennDOT reported several benefits that have already emerged from PennShare's pilot testing phase, but anticipates that others will emerge once PennShare is fully implemented. Some of these benefits may include:

Data-Sharing Challenges

Additional Resources

An example of a PennShare data-agreement between PennDOT and Dauphin County (draft version) is available from John Parker.

An example of a 2009 geospatial data-sharing agreement between the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission, Cumberland County, Dauphin County, and Perry County is available from PennDOT. This agreement specifies how GIS information will be exchanged among the signing agencies.

AASHTO TIG PennShare Fact Sheet

PennShare pilot site

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The Rhode Island DOT (RIDOT) is collaborating with several State agencies to develop an enterprise GIS database. The purpose of this database is to provide a centralized digital infrastructure for State organizations to share geospatial information. RIDOT is also integrating data stored in its linear referencing systems and developing several other GIS applications that will support data-sharing, increased collaboration, and streamlined project development.


State Enterprise Database
The development of the State enterprise database, which is being funded and led by Rhode Island's Emergency Management Agency (EMA), was prompted by a series of flooding and weather events in 2010 that led EMA to consider how to better coordinate its data-sharing activities with other State agencies. EMA reached out to RIDOT as a partner and EMA and RIDOT then identified several “core” agencies that represented the State's primary GIS users—including RIDOT, the Rhode Island Department of Health, the State Department of Administration, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission (RIHPHC), and EMA. These agencies are working to determine how best to combine datasets into one framework. Ultimately, RIDOT expects the enterprise database will include all State agencies and local municipalities. Currently, the core agencies are the only entities with access to the database.

RIDOT noted that another impetus for developing the enterprise database was new reporting requirements for Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS) data specified under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). RIDOT expects that the database will help agency staff respond to these requirements since it will provide a single repository for data.

Initially, the public will not have access to the database because it contains some sensitive data, but RIDOT is considering ways to enable public access in the future, possibly by using Esri's ArcGIS Online platform. Data owners at the core agencies will be responsible for uploading their information to the database. These data owners will have the ability to implement their own restrictions on published datasets to control what information is being shared.

Linear Referencing System (LRS) Expansion
RIDOT is also implementing Esri Roads and Highways software20 to develop a more comprehensive State roadway inventory. Concurrently, RIDOT has hired a contractor to collect pavement data and other Model Inventory of Roadway Elements (MIRE) data elements on all public roads in Rhode Island; these data will ultimately be included in the LRS.

2011 state of Rhode Island Pavement Condition Map with colored line segements showing the following conditions: red for failed, orange for poor, yellow for fair, light green for good, and thicker, brighter green for excellent

Figure 16: Rhode Island's State enterprise database will include geospatial data from RIDOT, such as pavement condition.

Other Activities and Future Efforts
Over the last year, RIDOT has seen an increased emphasis on GIS as an essential strategy for making objective, data-driven funding decisions at the agency. Interest in GIS within RIDOT has grown rapidly and many business areas within RIDOT are approaching the GIS Unit with requests for data analysis support. As a result, RIDOT is currently determining which GIS initiatives to prioritize as an agency.

RIDOT anticipated that future agency GIS applications will focus on ways to centralize and standardize geospatial information. For example:

RIDOT noted that there is already a strong foundation of inter-agency geospatial collaboration at the agency. For example, as a member of the Rhode Island's Geographic Information System (RIGIS)21 Executive Committee, RIDOT coordinates activities and shares data with other RIGIS participants. The RIDOT GIS Unit also works closely with the State Division of Information Technology on many initiatives, including development of the enterprise GIS database and roadway inventory expansion. As RIDOT moves forward to enhance and prioritize its GIS activities, the agency hopes to enhance and expand these partnerships.

Data-Sharing Benefits

Additional Resources

Rhode Island Geographic Information System Executive Committee

RIDOT Geographic Information Systems Unit

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The South Carolina DOT's SCDOT Local Agency Data Collection (LADC) program is a GeoMedia and SharePoint-based application that promotes data sharing between local public agencies (LPAs) and SCDOT. The application allows the State's 46 counties to upload and share local roadway GIS line work and roadway attribute data with SCDOT. The LADC Program features two components. First, LPAs upload data into the LADC Management Portal in SharePoint, which automatically notifies SCDOT that new data has been entered. SCDOT then uses the GeoMedia-based LADC Toolbox to process the data and run quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC). Once this step is complete, SCDOT integrates these data into its Roadway Inventory Management System (RIMS), an Oracle-based system that contains all of the State's road network information.

LADC provides a centralized mechanism through which SCDOT can collect road data across the State and integrate the information into a standardized format within RIMS. By allowing SCDOT to more easily identify local road mileage and attributes, LADC will help SCDOT more accurately allocate funding for local roadways and conduct effective transportation analyses, such as identifying transportation asset locations and analyzing accident locations. LADC takes data that was created by the counties and converts it to a format SCDOT can use, and then eventually sends it to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) as part of required Highway Performance Management System (HPMS) reporting. When all counties have shared their data through LADC, SCDOT will have a complete network.


Before the development of LADC, SCDOT collected county road information by manually recording road conditions and local assets across the State. Due to limited staffing, SCDOT was unable to consistently record these data and the available datasets were often low quality. SCDOT initially created LADC in order to more easily add locally owned roadway data attributes to RIMS. Later, SCDOT found LADC to be an effective way to address the requirements of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), which included new requirements for reporting the mileage of all public roads, including non-State roads.

While South Carolina's counties are not required to participate in LADC, SCDOT encourages them to participate by emphasizing that accurate local roadway data can increase the amount of funding available for local road improvements at the county level. To date, two counties have submitted their local roadway data to SCDOT through LADC. Through these initial submissions, SCDOT has worked to resolve data submission issues such as record duplication, missing data, inconsistent naming, and misaligned roads across municipality boundaries. After each county uploads its information to LADC, SCDOT staff standardize each county's particular roadway data according to RIMS formats.

While LADC primarily serves as a tool to collect information from counties, the application also supports data-sharing between SCDOT and other stakeholders. For example, SCDOT currently makes statewide roadway shapefiles available on its GIS mapping website and will update the files shared on its website with county information pulled from LADC. SCDOT also anticipates that it will be able to share data collected through LADC with the Department of Public Safety, the business community, the general public, and other potential partners.

Ultimately, SCDOT would like all of the State's 46 counties to use LADC. Currently, SCDOT requests data from a county on an individual basis before that county is added into LADC. SCDOT created a SharePoint-based LADC entry point to allow counties to log in and easily upload their shape files and data dictionaries at their convenience in the future. SCDOT does not have any formal data-sharing agreements with counties for LADC and, when authorized by counties, metropolitan planning organizations and councils of government may submit local roadway data on the counties' behalf.

Screenshot from SCDOT's GIS/Mapping website of a county map of South Carolina with a county selector dropdown menu

Figure 17: SCDOT makes statewide roadway shapefiles available on its GIS/mapping website. SCDOT plans to update these files with county information pulled from LADC.

Data-Sharing Benefits and Challenges

Additional Resource

Local Agency Data Collection Program Overview

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Roadway Network System (RNS)/Roadway Inventory Management System (RIMS)is a repository and inventory of the Virginia's roadway network, including all linear roadway assets and attributes such as bridge and railroad crossing locations, crash locations, and pavement conditions.


The Virginia DOT (VDOT) has the third-largest public road network in the country. The State has a dual-centerline system, which makes maintaining a geospatial inventory of roadway data more complex and challenging. No commercial products were available in the late-1980s to build a comprehensive roadway data inventory based on a dual-centerline network. In 1989, VDOT (with consultant support) created its own system, a mainframe database called the Highway Traffic Records Information/Inventory System (HTRIS), which merged manually collected pavement records and highway data.

In 2003, VDOT began replacing HTRIS with an Esri-based geospatial solution: RIMS. The agency completed the basic infrastructure for RIMS in 2012. Over the last two years, VDOT's Roadway Inventory Management (RIM) Unit, which administers RIMS, has focused on making strategic modifications to streamline how data are edited within a RIMS sub-structure called RNS. RNS tracks the geospatial location of all of Virginia's roadway inventory and associated attributes over their lifecycles. It is essentially the editing gateway to RIMS. RNS keeps the coordinates for roadway attributes and assets up-to-date even if there are changes to the roadway—for instance, if a lane is widened or a curve in the roadway smoothed.

RNS/RIMS is an internal application available only to VDOT users. It centralizes and shares linear geospatial information within and outside the agency. For example:

RIMS/RNS is now becoming an essential part of the agency's business processes as well as the agency's primary repository of linear geospatial information. VDOT maintains another GIS-based application, the GIS Integrator, which is the agency's repository of non-linear geospatial information. (The Integrator includes over 150 data layers.) Data in the GIS Integrator are updated on a fixed schedule, while RNS/RIMS data are updated as needed.

The RIM Unit is promoting RNS/RIMS throughout the agency to encourage various business units to use the application and integrate it into their workflows. The RIM Unit is also identifying standards for the statewide linear referencing system and sharing them to encourage other groups in VDOT to use the standards when referencing projects that occur along or on a roadway. It is also identifying quality control processes that would help verify data accuracy when roadway network changes happen in RNS/RIMS. It is identifying web-based functionalities that would improve how users access and manipulate RNS/RIMS data.

Screenshot form VDOT's Roadway Inventory Management System showing a map of Virginia with roads colored to show pavement condition: blue for excellent, green for good, yellow for fair, pink for poor, red for very poor, black for not rated, and gray for not collected

Figure 18: VDOT's Roadway Inventory Management System is the system of record for the agency's road data inventory.

Data-Sharing Lessons Learned

Data-Sharing Benefits

Additional Resources

VDOT may be able to provide the MOU it has with VGIN.

RNS overview (2012 GIS-T Symposium presentation). Content no longer available.

Pontis Element Data Collection Manual

HTRIS overview (2008 GIS-T Symposium presentation). Content no longer available.

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The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has been working to develop tools and interactive mapping applications to increase public access to transportation related spatial data, maps, and mapping applications. Increased access to spatial data supports state and local agency coordination and enables all users to make decisions that are better informed.


WSDOT Online Map Center
The WSDOT Online Map Center is an interactive web mapping site designed for users of every skill level. It is built upon the ArcGIS Online (AGOL) for Organizations platform. The Online Map Center offers an opportunity to view, create, share, and collaborate on map projects. State and local agencies as well as the general public also can view items from the Online Map Center that have been shared with the public. This platform allows users to make more informed decisions by providing a collaborative environment for the visual display of spatial and tabular data.

The WSDOT Online Map Center combines WSDOT authored data layers and map applications into a single, easy to use, web-based map interface. Most of the map applications that are discoverable through the WSDOT Online Map Center, like the GeoPortal and the Functional Class Map Application, use map services that are hosted on WSDOT servers. Other mapping applications, like the New Zealand Mud Snail map application, are hosted entirely in the Cloud. As of July 2014, WSDOT's public content included: 46 layers, 16 web maps, and 11 web map applications.

WSDOT began development of the Online Map Center on August 31, 2012. Shortly thereafter, the project received a boost when WSDOT was invited to participate in an American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Technology Implementation Group (TIG) UPLAN project. Participation in the project enabled WSDOT to benefit from the lessons learned by the UPLAN project team, which launched the Utah Department of Transportation's online mapping efforts.

WSDOT's Transportation Data and GIS Office (TDGO) manages the Online Map Center. Its management activities include:

Community Planning Portal
The Community Planning Portal (CPP) is a publically available web map built using AGO, and accessible from the WSDOT Online Map Center. The portal helps state, regional, and local transportation planners and decision-makers understand the transportation system in their areas by offering a “one-stop” access point for more than 27 geospatial data layers from WSDOT and other state agencies. Washington's Growth Management Act requires local governments to periodically update their comprehensive plans and keep an inventory of state transportation facilities in their regions. The Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 36.70a.130 defines the update cycle for each county and city. CPP also helps agencies access information required to develop these inventories and respond to state planning requirements.

Through CPP, users can access dozens of descriptors of the state transportation system, such as airport locations, traffic counts, and roadway classifications. The tool also allows users to print planning fact sheets, which is a written summary of transportation data automatically generated for a specific city or county. WSDOT is now implementing the second phase of CPP, which will involve adding a Tribal planning fact sheet and more data layers to the portal based on user feedback and needs.

WSDOT has worked closely with local agencies to develop CPP. For example, WSDOT regional planners attended planning forums around the state to gauge interest from local planners. The city of Burlington piloted the system and provided input on the format of the planning fact sheets and the tool's functionality. WSDOT then beta-tested the portal with seven cities and counties, who provided additional feedback. In response to this feedback, WSDOT created a quick start guide and video tutorials on how to use CPP. WSDOT also showcased CPP at conferences and meetings around the state to solicit additional comments.

To develop CPP, the project team identified relevant datasets that were housed in WSDOT's enterprise GIS database that could be pulled into the CPP and also worked with individual offices within WSDOT to publish data of interest to local governments. The data was reviewed, updated if needed, and then made available via the CPP. Data that was out of date, difficult to locate, not easy to use, or simply did not exist prior to the CPP project, could now be found in one place.

Screenshot from WSDOT's CPP displaying a map of the greater Seattle area and a menu list of data layers which are user-selectable

Figure 19: WSDOT's CPP allows user to view a range of geospatial data, such as speed limits, traffic levels, parking and ride lots, and functional class.

Data-Sharing Benefits

Additional Resources

Winter 2014 GIS in Transportation Newsletter article: “A Look at Washington Department of Transportation's Community Planning Portal”

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WVDOT is engaging in several initiatives designed to better integrate, consolidate, and share the agency's geospatial information with internal and external stakeholders through a one-stop, authoritative data source. These include developing a centralized linear referencing system (LRS) and building an agency-wide AGOL site that will function as a geospatial data portal.

Data-Sharing Initiatives

In 2005, WVDOT created its GIS Section to build a more formalized GIS program and expand the agency's use of GIS technologies. In 2007, the GIS Section merged with the Highway Data Services Unit to comprise the WVDOT Geospatial Transportation Information (GTI) Section, which is located within the Program Planning and Administration Division of the Division of Highways.

Since its inception, the GTI Section developed a range of GIS-based applications that store and share a range of agency data; for instance, WVDOT Facilities is an Adobe Flex-based application and viewer that shows the location of State-owned transportation facilities. The GTI Section also maintains an online data clearinghouse that shares information on roadway networks, transportation infrastructure, traffic counts, imagery, and other transportation elements. Additionally, the GTI Section maintains several internal-only applications designed to share information that supports project planning, asset management, and general decision-making (e.g., a videolog that allows staff to see street-level road imagery and associated pavement data).

The GTI Section is currently focused on identifying and implementing strategies to better consolidate the agency's existing geospatial information such as standardizing data to ensure consistency and quality, and broadening access to information to improve intra- and inter-agency communication.

As part of these initiatives, GTI Section staff are implementing Esri's Roads and Highways to build a centralized LRS; this effort is ongoing and WVDOT anticipates the LRS will be in production by the end of 2014. WVDOT anticipates this will help provide a framework for making coordinated updates to WVDOT's roadway network data, enabling users across the agency to access information on roadway assets or events (e.g., pavement conditions). This might be particularly helpful for planners, designers, or engineers who need access to current network data to make decisions about where or how a transportation facility should be built.

WVDOT's Roads and Highways initiative will also support the creation of the Straight Line Diagram (SLD), which will allow users to query a visualization of the State's route to look up information such as functional class and attribute information. The SLD application, which is connected to Roads and Highways, will display any of 182 items, including videolog information. SLD users will also be able to highlight data points and print straight line diagrams. SLD is currently only available to internal users, but WVDOT is considering whether to create a log-in application to make a version of the tool available to the public.

GTI Section staff are also developing an AGOL site to help users query and visualize information that currently resides in multiple databases. WVDOT anticipates this site will be especially useful for agency leadership to support transportation needs prioritization and monitoring of ongoing projects. The site will likely be implemented by the end of 2014 and will be available to all staff within WVDOT, including its 10 district offices. The site will also be made available to the agency's planning partners such as other State and Federal agencies, as well as the public. There will be some restrictions on the site; however, to manage how sensitive information, such as the location of endangered species, will be accessible to different site users.

It is likely that users will be able to add their own data to the site in the future. A mobile version of the AGOL site might also be developed to enable WVDOT staff to access information in the field. A governing body with representatives from across WVDOT will set data-sharing standards for the AGOL site.

Currently, WVDOT is testing AGOL internally to identify effective processes and standards for collecting, compiling, and publishing data; data maintenance and quality assurance; site management/governance; and user access. GTI Section staff are exploring contract options with Esri for administering the AGOL site over time (although a contract has not yet been signed). Ultimately, GTI Section staff expect that some of the data displayed through the site will be stored using Esri's cloud services, while other information will continue to be stored on WVDOT servers. GTI Section staff have also built several mapping applications for the AGOL site that are expected to serve as templates to help standardize the “look and feel” of queried information.

In the long-term, WVDOT anticipates that data from all of the agency's existing GIS-based applications, as well as ongoing efforts such as implementing Roads and Highways, will help feed a broader, enterprise framework informally called “Our Solution with Integrated Systems” (OASIS), or more formally the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Suite. The ERP Suite will “pull” data from across the agency into one centralized location and will allow information to be exported to external systems maintained by other partners such as the Federal Highway Administration. Once fully implemented, the AGOL site would function as a portal and viewing interface through which ERP Suite data could be easily discovered, manipulated, and mapped.

Data-Sharing Benefits

GTI Section staff believe one of the primary benefits of the AGOL site (and the future ERP Suite) will be an ability to make information more transparent and accessible to staff across the agency. Historically, GTI Section staff needed to reference multiple databases, each with its own data standards and formats, when responding to information requests from WVDOT leadership. The AGOL site will aggregate information and provide an intuitive interface; as such it will provide a mechanism for accessing information on demand. This will lead to both time- and cost-savings across the agency as well as more streamlined and strategic decision-making. GTI Section staff also predict that the AGOL site will improve data quality by allowing users to more easily view geospatial information and notice any existing errors.

GTI Section staff also anticipate the AGOL site will help address potential conflicts earlier in transportation project development. For example, using the AGOL site, a planner or designer could identify how a transportation project might interact with sensitive ecological features such as endangered species. Any necessary mitigation strategies or alternative design options could be incorporated into a project before it is constructed, facilitating environmental reviews and project development.

WVDOT reported it has already seen improved collaboration and efficiencies from its recent implementation of Roads and Highways. For example, compiling roadway network reports once took several weeks and multiple staff searching for data that were stored in disparate databases. Once fully implemented, WVDOT anticipates Roads and Highways will help one staff person produce a report in several hours. Empowering business units within WVDOT to conduct their own analysis is one key benefit of the AGOL site and other geospatial efforts underway at the agency.

diagram of the framework of WVDOT's OASIS/ERP Suite which is titled WVDOT Future System Overview

Figure 20: WVDOT's OASIS/ERP Suite will pull data from across the agency into once centralized location, as demonstrated in the framework above.

Additional Documentation

In 2007, WVDOT developed two data-sharing agreements with the State Division of Homeland Security and Department of Environmental Protection that outline how the agencies will share geospatial information. WVDOT can share the State Division of Homeland Security agreement upon request.


WVDOT Presentation on GTI Section

May 2013 Presentation by Yueming Wu (WVDOT GTI Section Leader): “Report by WVDOT”

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1 See NSGIC Geospatial Data-Sharing: Guidelines for Best Practices (2011). Content no longer available. See also the Government Accountability Office's report on GIS: Challenges to Effective Data Sharing (2003), available at
2 Other research demonstrates State DOTs' interests in data-sharing more generally. For example, National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) research demonstrated that State DOTs identified data integration as top research needs. See NCHRP Synthesis 446 (2013). AASHTO's 2013 State survey showed that almost two-thirds of respondents identified enterprise data integration as a critical business area, while just under half thought that public information web portals were a critical business area. Almost two-thirds of respondents already had data-sharing agreements with other public agencies or private providers. For more information on the survey, see Content no longer available.
3 Screening tools are specifically designed to support users in identifying a transportation project's potential impacts during project planning or development processes.
4 Many of these web-based portals are using Esri's ArcGIS Online (AGOL) cloud-based platform, which permits users to aggregate and share a wide array of geospatial information including mapping application and data layers.
5 The processes listed may relate to multiple efforts (for example, CTDOT's work to standardize data formats will support efforts to expand the GIS road network and consolidate inventories).
6 Efforts include only initiatives led by the agency. The case studies and peer exchange reports contain details on other initiatives that agencies are working on but are not led by the agency itself.
7 The Portal is an ArcGIS server-based product that uses Geocortex Essentials and ESRI's Representational State Transfer (REST). ESRI's REST architecture essentially allows data stored in one format to be shared with users in another format. In the Portal, REST is the underlying technology that allows data stored within agency databases to be displayed on top of a standard basemap.
8 28E agreements are those developed under Iowa State code, Chapter 28E.They specify the terms under which Iowa State and local agencies can work together to provide joint and cooperative services for the purposes of making “efficient use of their powers.” Cooperative efforts can include sharing resources such as information technologies or data.
9 To add projects to the Portal, the Project Scheduling System needed to leverage IADOT's Linear Referencing System (LRS). IADOT then needed to leverage LRS by storing a compliant linear referencing method (LRM) and using this in combination with the LRS to produce an Oracle Spatial Geometry.
10 More information is available at
11 The Technical Committee develops guidance to support MD iMap operations, reviews data consistency issues, and addresses technical concerns. The Executive Committee supports the Technical Committee and reviews/approves documentation while addressing data coordination concerns.
12 Adobe Flex is an application framework that allows a consistent format for web-based applications that are accessed through multiple browsers or devices (e.g., desktops, Smartphones).
13 The GIO's office is developing an application template to standardize the appearance and functionality of maps. Agencies contributing data can either embed their data in an application and apply the template or publish the data to iMap 2.0.
14 For more information on Biotics, see
15 Eco-Logical is an approach to avoid or minimize environmental impacts, as well as plan future mitigation, through the prioritization of natural resources in early infrastructure planning. MoDOT, one of 14 Implementing Eco-Logical funding assistance recipients, will focus on exploring the IEF's early steps Additional information about Implementing Eco-Logical, part of the SHRP2 Capacity project C06, is available at:
16 The Missouri SHPO, as part of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR), is responsible for archaeological consultations under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). The SHPO maintains the State's archaeological survey site files; it also populates and maintains the CRID in collaboration with the University of Missouri
17 NECTAR uses GeoMedia's WebMap as a platform.
18 RAMONA is maintained by the National State Geographic Information Council (NSGIC). RAMONA provides the underlying structure for the NSGIC GIS Inventory, which provides information on the status of geospatial data and geospatial services/systems available from Federal, State, and local agencies across the United States. Participation in RAMONA/the GIS Inventory is voluntary but there is an expectation by the FGDC standards to submit ongoing updates by states to support the Federal Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) layers.
19 Additional information on ODOT's asset management activities are available in FHWA's 2012 report on Best Practices in GIS-Based Transportation Asset Management located at
20 This software allows a user to integrate data from multiple LRSs.
21 RIGIS is a consortium of government agencies and private organizations that manages and distributes the State's publically available GIS data through the Rhode Island Digital Atlas. RIGIS coordinates with the University of Rhode Island to manage and distribute the Digital Atlas. The RIGIS Executive Committee provides guidance, oversight, and coordination of organizations in Rhode Island that use GIS technology; RIDOT is a member of this committee.
22 VDOT provides roadway attributes to VGIN that VITA does not otherwise have; these attributes are then made available through VGIN to local government agencies. These agencies benefit from having centralized access to these data through VGIN. The RIMS Unit has tried to automate some of the data-sharing that occurs between VGIN and RNS/RMS, but has not yet completed this effort.

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