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Regional Models of Geospatial Cooperation
Case Studies of Select Transportation Agencies

July 2015


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July 2015
Final report
GIS in Transportation: Regional Models of Geospatial Cooperation
Case Studies of Select Transportation Agencies
Paige Colton, Kate Macfarlane, Alisa Fine
U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Research and Technology
John A Volpe National Transportation Systems Center
55 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02142

Federal Highway Administration, Office of Planning
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

This document is available to the public through the National Technical Information Service, Springfield, VA 22161.
13. ABSTRACT (Maximum 200 words)

This report, developed by Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (Volpe), explores how select transportation agencies are sharing geospatial information and developing and using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) applications to support the objectives of the FHWA Regional Models of Cooperation innovation effort. The report highlights the cooperative, geospatial activities that select agencies and their regional partners are pursuing to increase efficiency, improve transportation decision-making, and strengthen relationships among agencies in the same region. To explore these topics in greater depth, FHWA and Volpe selected transportation agencies to highlight in a series of case studies. The case studies and report were conducted as part of FHWA's GIS in Transportation program. Through technical support, resources, and capacity-building opportunities, the program aims to assist transportation agencies to more effectively use GIS and geospatial applications.

Capacity building, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), geospatial applications, transportation planning

NSN 7540-01-280-5500

Standard Form 298 (Rev. 2-89)
Prescribed by ANSI Std. 239-18=239-18


The U.S. Department of Transportation John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (Volpe) in Cambridge, Massachusetts prepared this report for the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Office of Planning. The project team included Paige Colton, Kate Macfarlane, and Alisa Fine, all of the Volpe’s Organizational Performance Division. The Volpe project team wishes to thank the staff members from several organizations nationwide, 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.

Table of Contents

  1. 1. Introduction
    1. 1.1 Background
  2. 2. Observations
    1. 2.1 Benefits
    2. 2.2 Challenges
  3. 3. Case Studies
    1. 3.1 Developing Tools to Support Regional and Local Planning in the Southwest Idaho Region
    2. 3.2 Sharing Regional Geospatial Information to Support Economic and Other Analysis in the South-Central Arizona and Intermountain
            West Regions
    3. 3.3 Developing Tools for Regional Emergency Management and Transportation Planning for Counties in Three States
    4. 3.4 Developing a Regional Data Warehouse for the City and County of San Diego, California
    5. 3.5 Developing a Regional GIS Inventory in the West Central Florida Region
  4. Appendix A—List of Interview Participants
  5. Appendix B—Interview Guide

List of Figures

Figure 1. Canyon and Ada Counties highlighted in green (from left to right)
Figure 2. Screenshot of the COMPASS Performance Dashboard
Figure 3. Screenshot of “Sidewalks per Roadway Mile” performance dashboard
Figure 4. Intermountain West region, with Maricopa County mapped in red
Figure 5. Screenshot from MAG’s Employment Viewer
Figure 6. RAVEN911 displays the isolation and protective zones for a hypothetical anhydrous ammonia spill in downtown Cincinnati
Figure 7. Parcel Lookup Tool is an example of how SanGIS and SANDAG use their MOU to collaborate to provide regional geospatial services
Figure 8. Portion of multi-use trail map, a component of the CCC’s LRTP, developed with analysis of regional GIS datasets

List of Tables

Table 1. Characteristics of case studies included in this report

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1. Introduction

The Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Every Day Counts (EDC) initiative aims to produce innovations, resources, and partnerships to shorten transportation project delivery, enhance safety, and protect the environment. FHWA is currently promoting an EDC innovation called Regional Models of Cooperation. This effort encourages State departments of transportation (DOTs) and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) to develop transportation plans and processes that look beyond jurisdictional boundaries to improve communication, cooperation, policy implementation, technology use, and performance management within and among agencies.

This report, developed by FHWA and the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (Volpe), explores how select transportation agencies are sharing geospatial information and developing and using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) applications to support the objectives of the FHWA Regional Models of Cooperation innovation effort. The report highlights the cooperative, geospatial activities that select agencies and their regional partners are pursuing to increase efficiency, improve transportation decisionmaking, and strengthen relationships among agencies in the same region. To explore these topics in greater depth, FHWA and Volpe selected transportation agencies to highlight in a series of case studies, on the basis of a review of online materials. When possible, the team also conducted follow-up interviews with agencies’ regional partners to better understand their perspectives on regional geospatial cooperation. The Volpe team interviewed the following agencies:

Appendix A contains a full list of those interviewed, and Appendix B provides the interview guide used as a basis for these discussions.

The case studies and report were conducted as part of FHWA's GIS in Transportation program.1 Through technical support, resources, and capacity-building opportunities, the program aims to assist transportation agencies to more effectively use GIS and geospatial applications.

1.1 Background

Many critical transportation problems, issues, opportunities extend beyond formally defined transportation planning and decision-making boundaries. For example, agencies need to consider how to mitigate transportation projects’ impacts on sensitive natural resources that cross politically defined State, county, or city lines, or they might need to consider how to effectively mitigate traffic congestion that recurs at a border crossing. However, transportation planning and decision-making has traditionally and primarily occurred within the boundaries of a State or a region as defined by Federal legislation. In recent years, Federal, State, and local transportation agencies have increasingly emphasized the importance of collaboration across jurisdictional boundaries. There is growing awareness that economic, energy, environmental, and other concerns that impact transportation planning can be more effectively and strategically addressed at new scales, including at a regional scale.2

Transportation researchers have examined specific cases where agencies have collaborated regionally, and have identified a number of benefits resulting from these efforts. For example, agencies have been able to identify transportation needs more comprehensively, leverage funding and other resources, improve project outcomes by aligning policies and needs, and coordinate transportation services to improve efficiencies.3

FHWA has supported agencies in collaborating more effectively at a regional level. Beyond FHWA’s Regional Models of Cooperation effort, FHWA’s Office of Operations has developed resource materials on regional cooperation to support operations planning.4 FHWA’s Office of Planning is exploring how agencies can conduct transportation planning on a megaregion scale and across a spectrum of politically defined boundaries (e.g., through cross-MPO collaboration).5

Transportation agencies are using GIS and other types of geospatial tools to support all stages of transportation planning, project development, and decisionmaking. As such, geospatial tools can play an important role facilitating regional cooperative efforts. These efforts may range widely, from sharing geospatial data among an MPO’s members, to an MPO and State collaborating to contribute data to a GIS application, or several MPOs identifying common objectives for improved regional geospatial analysis. Many State DOTs, MPOs, and other transportation agencies have long sought to coordinate their geospatial activities with others, including the public.6 However, limited research is available on agencies’ experiences engaging in regional geospatial coordination. This report seeks to fill this gap and document some examples of challenges, benefits, and lessons learned in this area. The case studies presented here are also expected to help agencies consider different ways in which cooperative geospatial activities can be structured.

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2. Observations

This section describes observations relating to benefits, challenges, and lessons learned from agencies' experiences in using geospatial technologies to support regional cooperation. The observations detailed below do not represent all models of regional geospatial cooperation. Rather, they are intended to provide examples of agencies that are experiencing successes in this area.

The case studies examined in this report illustrate how regional geospatial cooperative efforts can be structured. Table 1 provides a summary of the case studies, highlighting the following characteristics for each:

Table 1. Characteristics of case studies included in this report

Case Study Title/Link Organizations Involved in Effort Name of Cooperative Efforts Purpose of Efforts Formal or Informal Structure for Participation?
  Lead Organization Participating Organizations      
Developing Tools to Support Regional and Local Planning in the Southwest Idaho Region Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho (COMPASS) Southwest Idaho cities and counties CommunityViz; COMPASS Performance Dashboard; regional data center Inform local and regional planning Informal
Sharing Regional Geospatial Information to Support Economic and Other Analysis in the South-Central Arizona and Intermountain West Regions Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) Maricopa County agencies and organizations; Intermountain West Transportation Management Associations (TMAs); MPOs, COGs, and State DOTs in the Intermountain West region; Mexican and Canadian agencies Interactive mapping and analysis applications; Intermountain West Region common GIS operating vision/ platform Support regional transportation, demographic and economic analysis; streamline implementation of key Intermountain West region transportation projects Informal
Developing Tools for Regional Emergency Management and Transportation Planning for Counties in Three States Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional COGs Emergency responders; OKI member MPOs Regional Asset Verification and Emergency Network (RAVEN911); Project Application Assistant (PAA) Improve emergency response; Streamline Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) project application process Informal; also developed an MOU
Developing a Regional Data Warehouse for the City and County of San Diego, California SanGIS City and County of San Diego, SANDAG, local governments, general public Regional GIS data warehouse; mapping applications Collect, maintain, and share geospatial data across the San Diego region MOA between SANDAG and SanGIS
Developing a Regional GIS Inventory in the West Central Florida Region West Central Florida MPO Chairs Coordinating Committee (CCC) and the Hillsborough MPO CCC member MPOs/TPOs; the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority (TBARTA); local governments, and Florida DOT Regional data inventory Collect, maintain, and share geospatial data in the region Informal

Overall observations that emerged from a review of the case studies are summarized below:

2.1 Benefits

The case study agencies reported a number of benefits related to engaging in regional geospatial cooperative efforts:

2.2 Challenges

The case study agencies shared challenges they faced in initiating or managing their regional cooperative geospatial efforts:

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3. Case Studies

This section presents in-depth case studies on the transportation agencies that participated in the report interviews. Each case study includes information on how the agency uses geospatial technologies to enhance regional cooperation and the challenges, lessons learned, and benefits encountered during the process to develop and implement the practices described.

Map of Iowa with Canyon and Ada Counties highlighted in green, located at the southwestern part of the state

Figure 1. Canyon and Ada Counties highlighted in green (from left to right)

3.1 Developing Tools to Support Regional and Local Planning in the Southwest Idaho Region


COMPASS is the MPO that serves a population of approximately 600,000 people in Ada and Canyon Counties in Idaho (see figure 1). Over the past several years, COMPASS and its member agencies have been cooperating to share data using a number of geospatial data tools that are intended to inform both regional and local planning. For example, in 2012, COMPASS and its member agencies used CommunityViz, a GIS-based mapping and visualization software, as part of a visioning process for the agency’s LRTP.9 Using the performance indicators developed as part of this process, COMPASS created the COMPASS Performance Dashboard. This online dashboard contains maps and graphs that allow regional members and the public to see how the area is performing in relation to goals set in the 2040 LRTP. To streamline data collection for this dashboard, COMPASS and its member agencies have started to develop a regional data center, which will function as a central repository for data of regional importance.

COMPASS’ Regionally Focused Geospatial Initiatives

In 2004, COMPASS led a visioning exercise with its member agencies and the public for Ada and Canyon Counties to determine how to effectively maintain transportation infrastructure and make transportation decisions to serve a rapidly growing region. COMPASS used the feedback from this exercise to inform its 2030 LRTP.

After the 2008 economic downturn and later recovery and growth of the region, decisionmakers engaged in a second visioning process for the region. This second process was conducted as part of COMPASS’ LRTP development in 2012. In order to make the visioning process more interactive, COMPASS used CommunityViz,10 a land-use alternative and impact analysis software, to assist the community in examining regional transportation and land-use scenarios. CommunityViz allowed COMPASS’ member agencies and other visioning meeting participants the ability to visualize and better understand regional impacts that might result from making different levels of transportation investments. The software also allowed the region to prioritize performance indicators that interface with the transportation system (e.g., housing, health, farmland) and set targets for these indicators. These performance indicators were used in COMPASS’ development of a performance dashboard.

COMPASS Performance Dashboard
In fall 2014, COMPASS made the COMPASS Performance Dashboard available to other agencies within its jurisdiction and to the public. The dashboard allows users to see how both the region as a whole and specific geographic areas within the region are progressing compared to performance measures established as part of COMPASS’ 2040 LRTP. COMPASS noted that because of a rapidly growing regional population, its member agencies are experiencing challenges in maintaining their jurisdictions’ infrastructure. The dashboard is primarily intended to help these agencies make decisions that are aligned with community goals without having to request specific data reports from COMPASS. See figure 2.

Screenshot of the COMPASS Performance Dashboard

Figure 2 . Screenshot of the COMPASS Performance Dashboard.

Dashboard users can view a variety of maps organized into eight categories, which reflect the eight goals of the LRTP: transportation, farmland preservation, community infrastructure, economic development, health, housing, land use, and open space. Each map shows data relating to a particular performance measure. Many of the maps also contain a graph that shows baseline data as compared to 2040 targets and a gauge that displays 2013 baseline data as compared to 2040 targets. For example, the sidewalk per roadway mile dashboard (see figure 3) shows that by 2040, the region would like to have sidewalks on 50 percent of its roads, and that by 2013, the region had sidewalks on 44 percent of its roads. Overall, users can choose from 100 data layers, which can be arranged in different ways depending on user need.

Screenshot of “Sidewalks per Roadway Mile” performance dashboard.

Figure 3 . Screenshot of “Sidewalks per Roadway Mile” performance dashboard

Local agencies can also use the dashboard in conjunction with a checklist when considering whether new real estate developments are consistent with the region’s goals in the 2040 LRTP. The checklist is intended to match local decisions with the regional plan and is especially helpful for small agencies with limited planning or geospatial capabilities make better decisions. The checklist includes 30 “yes” or “no” questions to evaluate whether proposals support the eight goals of the LRTP. For example, the checklist asks whether a project is within a walkshed of schools, parks, grocery stores, or transit stops, goals previously established in the scenario-planning process.

Regional Data Center
COMPASS has always taken the lead in collecting and compiling data necessary for its own and its partners’ planning processes. In order to make these processes more efficient and effective, COMPASS’ committee of regional GIS practitioners, the Regional Geographic Information System Advisory Committee (RGAC),11 decided to develop a web-based regional data center.12 The center helps COMPASS more easily maintain the data presented in the Performance Dashboard and facilitate data-sharing among COMPASS member agencies. Each of COMPASS’ regional partners is responsible for uploading and maintaining its own data on the site, which can be accomplished in a variety of ways (e.g., connection to the server, web, or via Esri software).

COMPASS and its member agencies recently began populating the new regional data center. In general, the center is intended to contain data essential for regional coordination; RGAC is working to prioritize which data to include in the center. For example, to develop its LRTP, COMPASS must have preliminary plat data on which to base population estimates for making forecasts. The data center will include preliminary plat data as well as regional centerline data, which is necessary for emergency services in the region. Thus far, data sharing through the data center has been informal, and no agreements have been signed.

Lessons Learned

COMPASS shared several lessons learned from its efforts, including the following:



COMPASS identified a number of benefits from its efforts, including:

3.2 Sharing Regional Geospatial Information to Support Economic and Other Analysis in the South-Central Arizona and Intermountain West Regions

Map of Intermountain West region section of the U.S., with Maricopa County, Arizona lined red.

Figure 4. Intermountain West region, with Maricopa County mapped in red


MAG is an MPO and a Council of Governments (COGs) that serves a population of 4.26 million in the Phoenix metropolitan area. In order to improve the economy and address the need for funding for the regional transportation system, MAG formed an Economic Development Committee with the goal of increasing exports and trade through the improvement of transportation infrastructure. The Economic Development Committee works with the Arizona Commerce Authority, the Arizona Mexico Commission, and the Arizona DOT on a variety of issues, including improving relationships with Mexico and Canada, developing increased coordination in the Intermountain West region (see figure 4), and improving the freight network to make Arizona competitive globally. In order to facilitate these goals and support regional transportation and economic analysis, MAG began developing a variety of interactive mapping and analysis applications (detailed below) beginning in 2010.

Based on the success of these applications, as evidenced by their use by various stakeholders in the region, MAG applied for and received Strategic Highway Research Program 2 (SHRP2)14 funding to expand its collaboration with other agencies in the Intermountain West region. The Intermountain West region is home to 7.2 percent of the U.S. population, and is a beneficiary of migration patterns that have made the western and southern U.S. the largest growing regions in the last three decades. The purpose of MAG’s SHRP2 effort is to develop strategies for regional geospatial data-sharing, with the ultimate goal of streamlining implementation of key regional transportation projects in the Intermountain West region. By improving transportation project delivery in the region, which provides important linkages to different regions in the U.S. as well as to Canada and Mexico, MAG and its SHRP2 partners also aim to support the economic health of not only the region but the Nation as well.

MAG’s Mapping and Analysis Applications

After being approached by member agencies with requests to develop tools that more easily share regional demographic data, MAG began developing a variety of mapping and analysis viewers/applications. Each viewer/application addresses a particular theme such as demographics, employment, land use, socioeconomic projections, bikeways, buildings and landmarks, and victim services. The viewers/applications were designed to be user friendly and interactive. Users can select the specific data layers they would like to map (e.g., employment by industry type in the Employment Viewer); customize data views (e.g., changing the base map); and develop reports and analytics by specified geography. MAG developed all of these viewers/applications in-house using Esri products.

The Demographic Viewer and Employment Viewer are two examples of these applications. After receiving continual requests from member agencies regarding population data, MAG developed the Demographic Viewer, which allows users to easily map regional census data. Maricopa County is an air pollution nonattainment area, and employees at large organizations are required to take a trip-reduction survey each year. Approximately 500,000 employees in the region provide data on their home and work locations and commute mode and time. MAG worked with Maricopa County to add questions that would provide data needed to support economic development. For example, the survey now asks about occupational categories. By combining this survey data with the work that MAG and economic development and planning staff from the county’s 25 municipalities use to identify regional employment centers, the Employment Viewer displays the commute sheds for residents and workers in a given community, and can help communities identify opportunities for economic development and business attraction/expansion. See figure 5.

Figure 5. Screenshot from MAG’s Employment Viewer.

Figure 5. Screenshot from MAG's Employment Viewer

MAG developed the Demographic/Employment Viewer and similar types of viewers/applications primarily to provide member agencies’ planning staff with easily accessible data and analytic capabilities. However, a broader population, including MAG staff and the general public, now use the applications. Additionally, MAG is part of a Joint Planning Advisory Council (JPAC),15 which includes three counties in Arizona: Maricopa, Pima, and Pinal, and their respective MPOs/COGs. The JPAC promotes these and other MAG viewers/applications as tools that support more coordinated planning and economic analysis activities among its members. MAG also uses the viewers/applications to summarize regional data for policymakers. MAG started a training program aimed at helping JPAC members use the applications and has conducted eight training sessions to date.

MAG also routinely works with its member agencies, other Arizona COGs and MPOs, to access and share geospatial data. For instance, MAG has collaborated with a number of MPOs in the Intermountain West region on socioeconomic modeling and travel demand modeling activities. MAG is also working with SANDAG to build a joint regional econometric model. The two agencies are pooling funds and have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU).

SHRP2 Project

Due to its perceived success in developing various mapping and analysis applications and collaborating with other regional agencies to share geospatial data, MAG applied for and received $240,000 in SHRP2 implementation assistance funding to carry out strategies developed under the SHRP2 research product C19: Expediting Project Delivery.16 The funding supports MAG in expanding cooperative efforts with other agencies in the Intermountain West region to advance deployment of solutions that expedite transportation project delivery in the region. The specific goals of the SHRP2 C19 MAG effort are to:

  1. Conduct outreach to key stakeholders to identify needs and potential gaps related to transportation and data resources.
  2. Develop a common GIS operating vision/platform to improve data and information sharing, reduce data redundancies, and inform transportation decisionmaking across the Intermountain West region.
  3. Align expectations for a long-range vision to move people and goods in the Intermountain West region.
  4. Develop a report containing a risk register, which will be an analysis of risk levels associated with delivering a transportation project driven by spatial data and metrics identified during the collaboration process.

The core of MAG’s SHRP2 C19 effort is developing the common GIS operating vision/platform. To kick off this piece of the effort, the MAG SHRP2 team17 is assessing available GIS data resources throughout the region; identifying potential data conflicts, standards and gaps; and developing methods for sharing data. MAG has held webinars and conducted a survey of regional agencies to assess their available GIS data resources. During the webinars, participants can showcase their existing tools to help the SHRP2 C19 project team consider various options for developing a common GIS platform.

MAG anticipates that the common platform, which will most likely be provided for public use, will have a similar “look and feel” to MAG’s existing viewers, and contain both mapping and reporting features. It will provide the ability to visualize data at a high level across the region, and will include datasets such as transportation, crucial habitats, demographics, and employment information.

A report containing a risk register will be the final piece of the MAG SHRP2 C19 effort, which will be complete in spring 2016. The risk register will identify potential risks and their impacts that can present challenges to successful implementation of a transportation project in the region. Risks could include unplanned events such as cost increases, unexpected archeological findings, and insufficient funding.

MAG is reaching out to the directors and technical staff at each of the 12 Intermountain West Transportation Management Associations (TMAs) and to the MPOs that serve as TMAs within the region through the Intermountain West MPO Director meetings to gauge interest in participating in all aspects of the C19 effort. Furthermore, MAG is contacting all of the State DOTs within the Intermountain West region to inform them of MAG’s SHRP2 C19 efforts. MAG is also working with the Western Regional Partnership (WRP) to provide a broader reach to other Federal agencies, possibly increasing the SHRP2 team’s access to additional regional datasets.


Although MAG’s geospatial coordination efforts are ongoing, the agency believes its activities have already led to important benefits, including:


Next Steps

MAG has not yet developed formal performance measures or metrics to assess its geospatial tools, but has received very positive feedback on its individual mapping and analysis applications. Other agencies and users have expressed interest in seeing MAG develop similar tools for the region to more easily share and visualize regional datasets. MAG intends to complete its work under SHRP2 C19 by early 2016.

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3.3 Developing Tools for Regional Emergency Management and Transportation Planning for Counties in Three States


OKI is the MPO for eight counties in the greater Cincinnati region, including counties in Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. In recent years, OKI has developed several GIS web-based tools to meet the needs of its member agencies. In addition to providing new functionality and efficiencies to local partners, these tools benefit OKI and the region as a whole by streamlining internal processes and building regional relationships. This case study focuses on two of the tools that OKI has recently developed:

  1. Regional Asset Verification and Emergency Network (RAVEN911), a web-based mapping system with geospatial components primarily designed for use by emergency responders.
  2. Project Application Assistant, a tool that streamlines the application process for OKI’s members to obtain transportation funding by giving local jurisdictions access to OKI’s transportation data.


In 2008, Hurricane Ike hit the Cincinnati region with 80 mile-per-hour winds and left 90 percent of the region without power. The hurricane highlighted gaps in the region’s emergency response abilities. In particular, regional datasets on critical infrastructure and assets did not exist or lacked crucial information. In the storm’s aftermath, the Cincinnati Fire Department, Homeland Security Unit, and Hamilton County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) sought the technological expertise of OKI to expand GIS data coverage for the region to help fill in many of these data gaps. The partners developed an MOU that guided the development of new datasets and a web-based application for accessing the data. The partners secured Homeland Security funding for the effort.

The resulting application, RAVEN911, is a web-based mapping system with geospatial components that is primarily designed for use by emergency operators in the OKI region. RAVEN911 includes accurate, up-to-date geospatial data on critical infrastructure for Greater Cincinnati’s 12-county Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) region. Using RAVEN911, emergency responders can easily view locations and key information for schools, hotels, power plants, hospitals, police and fire stations, and many other types of features.

In addition to providing access to regional geospatial data on critical infrastructure, RAVEN911 includes a number of geoprocessing widgets designed to help emergency operators conduct GIS analyses on the fly. RAVEN911 has widgets for hazardous waste spills, propane tank explosions, missing person searches, and bank robberies, among others. These widgets streamline emergency response workflows and reduce potential for human error. For example, prior to RAVEN911, if a bomb threat were to occur, many EMAs would have determined the appropriate containment zones by measuring a radius by hand on a paper map. RAVEN911 now provides responders with a streamlined workflow for identifying and implementing necessary protective zones. Using RAVEN911, EMAs can access various widgets to more quickly identify the geographic impact of an explosion and identify any necessary containment zones, street closures, or evacuation routes. RAVEN911 can also assist EMAs with assessing the extent of chemical spills as well as transportation and other impacts (see figure 6).

screenshot from RAVEN911 Viewer

Figure 6. RAVEN911 displays the isolation and protective zones for a hypothetical anhydrous ammonia spill in downtown Cincinnati. The ERG widget, shown here, looks up the appropriate buffer distances based on information the user enters about material type, spill size, time of day, and wind direction. (If necessary, RAVEN911 can pull wind data from nearby weather stations). RAVEN911 calculates necessary street closures and generates a list that can be exported to Excel. Before RAVEN911, emergency responders would consult the 392-page Emergency Response Guidebook for isolation and protective zone sizes, and then draw buffers and identify street closures by hand. RAVEN911 now provides responders with a streamlined workflow for identifying and implementing necessary protective zones. In the example shown above, 44 street closures would be needed.

RAVEN911 was designed to reduce emergency responders’ need to switch between multiple websites to streamline fact-finding and decisionmaking in emergency response situations. RAVEN911 integrates Google Street View, Bing Bird’s Eye imagery, stream gauge data, weather radar, and social media sites including Twitter, Instagram, and Flickr. For example, Ohio State Police use RAVEN911’s social media feeds to monitor crowd behavior during certain football games and identify potential security impacts.

OKI has primary responsibility for maintaining RAVEN911 in partnership with local EMAs. RAVEN911 relies on local agencies to collect base data like streets and critical infrastructure. OKI then standardizes different data formats, appends additional attribute data, and publishes a regional dataset. For example, local agencies send OKI updated street centerlines, and OKI adds speed limits and functional classifications. All data included in RAVEN911 have been validated by partner agencies or through field collection by light-duty City of Cincinnati firefighters. Most data are updated annually.

RAVEN911 is available free of charge to emergency providers in the following disciplines: fire and emergency medical services, law enforcement, hazardous materials, communications, public health, hospitals, public works, and emergency management. To access RAVEN911 data, users must first submit a registration request, which OKI must approve.

Representatives from the City of Cincinnati Fire Department, the City of Cincinnati Police Department, and OKI comprise the core team for maintaining and updating RAVEN911. In the immediate future, the RAVEN911 team does not have any major expansions planned for the tool. However, the team plans to continue to maintain datasets and respond to user feedback and requests.

RAVEN911: Benefits

OKI believes that RAVEN911 has led to significant benefits in promoting better regional coordination. OKI has leveraged RAVEN911 to gather regional data more efficiently, strengthen relationships with local jurisdictions, and build OKI’s regional reputation:

RAVEN911: Challenges

Project Application Assistant (PAA)

Every two years, OKI asks local jurisdictions to submit applications to obtain surface transportation project funding as part of developing the region’s Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). These applications ask applicants to provide technical data about traffic counts, level of service, environmental justice populations, and accident rates for the project location, among other data. OKI uses the submitted data to score projects according to a set of criteria and prioritize projects for funding.

OKI developed the Project Application Assistant (PAA) in 2009 to streamline the TIP project application process for local jurisdictions. The PAA is an online mapping application that is pre-populated with regional data on level of service, annual average daily traffic, truck average daily traffic, roadway classification, accident rates, and environmental justice populations. Users identify project locations by clicking on appropriate roadway segments and entering required information such as project name and sponsor jurisdiction. Using the digitized project location, the PAA displays a variety of transportation data that makes it easier for local jurisdictions to complete their funding applications and understand how applications will be scored.

The PAA was developed in-house by OKI and uses ArcGIS Viewer for Flex.18 Local jurisdictions are required to use the tool when submitting applications for TIP funding. OKI updates data in the PAA before each call for applications but does not have major upgrades or expansions planned for the immediate future.

PAA: Benefits

PAA: Challenges

Overall Lessons Learned

Regional leadership can provide momentum for further coordination. According to OKI and the City of Cincinnati, local governments in the region appreciate OKI’s leadership in advancing geospatial technologies and partnerships that support regional cooperation. For example, the City of Cincinnati noted that OKI’s leadership allows the City to leverage OKI’s investment rather than starting from the beginning. In addition, OKI’s successful track record of providing regional geospatial tools like RAVEN911 and PAA gives OKI a springboard for developing future tools and collaborative efforts. OKI is currently developing a performance measure scorecard that will track transportation and sustainability metrics across the region.

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3.4 Developing a Regional Data Warehouse for the City and County of San Diego, California


SanGIS is a JPA of the City of San Diego and the County of San Diego that seeks to collect, maintain, and share accurate and accessible geospatial data about the San Diego region. SanGIS has three primary functions:

  1. Maintain core land-based GIS data for the extent of San Diego County. SanGIS maintains 18 layers in house, including data on parcels and roads.
  2. Manage a GIS data warehouse for JPA partners and local jurisdictions. SanGIS manages a clearinghouse of more than 510 GIS layers. These layers are owned and maintained by a variety of stakeholders across the region, including SanGIS itself, the City of San Diego, County of San Diego, SANDAG, and other jurisdictions.
  3. Provide public access to GIS data for the San Diego region. A subset of the layers in the GIS data warehouse is freely available to the public through SanGIS’s website through a Regional Data Warehouse.19 As of April 2015, approximately 300 layers are publicly available.

In 1984, the City and County of San Diego initiated a multi-agency project to more efficiently deliver geospatial data to the San Diego region. The resulting program, the Regional Urban Information System (RUIS), provided more than 200 GIS layers to local governments and the general public. RUIS was managed by the City of San Diego in collaboration with the County. In 1997, the City and County formalized RUIS as a JPA and changed the name to SanGIS.20

Although the City and County of San Diego are the two owners of SanGIS, SanGIS has formal and informal agreements with several other government agencies. In 2010, SanGIS signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with SANDAG to facilitate GIS data sharing and in-kind services.21 SanGIS also has a number of joint funding agreements with United States Geological Survey (USGS) for specific projects and serves as the regional data steward for the USGS National Hydrography Dataset (NHD).22 Local governments work with SanGIS to provide local data, adapt SanGIS’s regional data to meet local needs, and ensure consistency between datasets.

Moving forward, SanGIS staff plan to make regular improvements to the data warehouse and data layers in response to user needs and technological changes. SanGIS currently does not track any formal performance measures, but staff plan to incorporate performance tracking into regular business practices. For example, an upcoming change to the public-facing Regional Data Warehouse will require users to register to download data. This will allow SanGIS to gather information about who is accessing information from the warehouse.


screenshot of Parcel Lookup Tool

Figure 7. Parcel Lookup Tool is an example of how SanGIS and SANDAG use their MOU to collaborate to provide regional geospatial services. SanGIS provides the parcel data, and SANDAG maintains the web infrastructure for the application. The Parcel Lookup Tool is available at


Lessons Learned

Additional Documentation

3.5 Developing a Regional GIS Inventory in the West Central Florida Region


The West Central Florida MPO Chairs Coordinating Committee (CCC) was created in 1993 as the regional coordinating body for the MPOs and TPO in the West Central Florida area.23 It serves a total population of 4,321,000 across an eight-county area.

The CCC is currently staffed through an agreement with the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority (TBARTA).24 While TBARTA and the CCC are distinct entities, TBARTA provides staff support organizational infrastructure, and other resources to support the CCC. The CCC is currently being reorganized and consolidated under TBARTA.25

The CCC has undertaken several regional GIS coordination efforts over many years that have involved close collaboration among CCC members, TBARTA, local governments, and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).

Regional Geospatial Cooperation Efforts

Each of the CCC’s members had its own GIS datasets that covered a variety of topic areas such as characteristics of highway and mass transit networks. However, these varied in degree of detail and coverage, and there was no specific application that could support a regional-level analysis (e.g., an assessment of regional highway congestion levels). To help address these needs, the CCC formed a Regional GIS Committee (Committee) in the late 1990s. This Committee provided a forum to discuss what existing data resources could be leveraged for regional analysis; identify where there were data gaps; and coordinate on appropriate next steps, including how to increase the region’s GIS data coverage. More generally, the Committee sought to foster stronger working relationships than had previously existed among the CCC’s members.

The Committee’s first effort was to develop a baseline of existing geospatial data and tools. The Hillsborough MPO subsequently volunteered to use its resources and capabilities to compile existing GIS layers from the CCC’s members into a regional data inventory, standardize the layers according to a common format, and make them accessible to members via distribution to the CCC’s committees. The Hillsborough MPO has continued to internally host the regional GIS inventory and produce geospatial mapping products on an as-needed basis. However, data owners are responsible for maintaining their own layers and informing the Hillsborough MPO when there are updates. The Hillsborough MPO also maintains its own GIS maps and data website for geospatial information focused on Hillsborough County. The website makes a variety of mapping tools and layers publicly accessible. An example tool is the Planning Information Map App (PIMA), an interactive, web-based mapping application for viewing land use, transportation, environmental, and other planning-related map layers and data.

Map of west coast Florida multi-use trails

Figure 8 . Portion of multi-use trail map, a component of the CCC’s LRTP, developed with analysis of regional GIS datasets.


In 2005, FDOT established the Transportation Regional Incentive Program (TRIP), which provides matching State funds for transportation facilities identified as regionally significant. TRIP had several implications for the CCC. Most significantly, it encouraged the region’s MPOs/TPO to place additional emphasis on the CCC’s role as a regional coordinating body. This helped the CCC strengthen its collaboration among its members to expand and enhance the geospatial data inventory. Currently, the layers are available primarily to the CCC’s members through the inventory but others may request access. See figure 8.

Other initiatives provided further momentum for developing West Central Florida’s regional GIS resources. For example, in 2009, the CCC’s members conducted an extensive and comprehensive update of West Central Florida’s LRTP, which included detailed maps of regional transportation networks and facilities, including the highway and transit systems as well as multi-use trails. With support from a consultant, the CCC was able to collect a variety of new geospatial data and update existing datasets to develop this regional LRTP. These efforts substantially enhanced and expanded the regional data inventory. The CCC has also consolidated its website with TBARTA to provide links to key datasets from various CCC members.

The CCC’s members have not developed formal documentation to outline policies for how data are collected or shared across the region. Instead it has relied primarily on strong working relationships with members to encourage contributions to the regional data inventory. Overall, the CCC believes it is the confluence of Federal and State emphasis areas that strongly encourage regional data collection, visualization, and geospatial information exchange in West Central Florida.

Ongoing Efforts and Next Steps

In cooperation with TBARTA, the CCC works to support regional analysis of data to develop various planning documents and studies (and also works with private consultants for these efforts). For example, TBARTA assisted the CCC in developing the 2012 Regional Congestion Management Process. As another example, TBARTA is now updating the 2015 Regional Transportation Master Plan as required by Florida statute every two years using data developed by the CCC. By using the layers from the regional data inventory for both the Master Plan and regional LRTP, the CCC has significantly enhanced the region’s ability to produce planning documents that are compatible in style and format.

The CCC’s members rely on the regional GIS inventory hosted by the Hillsborough MPO as the primary, centralized source for regionally focused geospatial information. The CCC has not yet developed any public-facing tools that would permit users outside the CCC or the public to easily access the information. Additionally, while some of the CCC’s members have their own mapping tools, there are no regional-level resources for data visualization. The CCC expects that the pending consolidation with TBARTA will likely spur a stronger focus on developing such public-facing or visualization tools. The CCC also anticipates that the consolidation would present new opportunities to assess how the region could better coordinate geospatial activities.



Lessons Learned/Success Factors

Additional Documentation

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Appendix A. List of Interview Participants

Agency Name Title Work Phone Email
City of Cincinnati John Brazina Principal Engineer (513) 352-6249
Bryan Williams Engineer (513) 352-4506
COMPASS Eric Adolfson Principal Planner, GIS (208) 475-2245
Hillsborough MPO Roger Mathie Senior GIS Analyst (813) 273-3774 x352
MAG Denise McClafferty Regional Program Manager (602) 452-5033
Anubhav Bagley Information Services Manager (602) 254-6300
Dennis Smith Executive Director (602) 254-6300
OKI Dave Shuey GIS Manager (513) 619-7689
Pascoe Planning Services LLC
(on behalf of the West Central Florida CCC)
Hugh Pascoe Planning Consultant (352) 613-3313
SanGIS Brad Lind SanGIS Program Manager (858) 874-7020
SANDAG Pat Landrum Senior GIS Analyst (619) 595-5602
TBARTA Christina Caputo Transportation Planner (813) 282-8200

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Appendix B. Interview Guide




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See the FHWA GIS in Transportation website at:
FHWA. 2014. Metropolitan Planning Organizations and Transportation Planning for Megaregions.
For more information, see
For more information, see
For more information, see
For examples of how agencies have engaged in data-sharing activities, see
For purposes of this report, a repository is defined as a centralized location (most often web-based) for collecting, storing, and maintaining data.
A geoprocessing widget, broadly defined, is a small application embedded into a website that performs spatial analysis and modeling.
For more information on this LRTP, see
CommunityViz is a software extension to Esri’s ArcGIS platform that adds analysis and visualization tools to ArcGIS to help users understand land-use alternatives and impacts. For more information, see
The RGAC is a committee that COMPASS organizes whose participants include GIS practitioners from cities, counties, and other jurisdictions represented in COMPASS’ membership. RGAC works to promote data sharing across jurisdictions in Ada and Canyon Counties. For more information, see
The regional data center uses Esri ArcGIS Server software and is installed on an Amazon Web Services server platform.
COMPASS used an open-source software called Weave (Web-Based Analysis and Visualization Environment), developed by the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. For more information see
SHRP2, a Federal research program authorized by Congress, has developed new innovative tools and processes designed to address critical State and local challenges. Interested State DOTs, MPOs, and other agencies can apply for implementation assistance to raise awareness and encourage early adoption of these innovations. For more information on SHRP2, see
For more information on the Joint Planning Advisory Council, see
C19: Expediting Project Delivery is a collection of strategies for addressing or avoiding common constraints to speed the delivery of transportation planning and environmental review projects. For more information, see For details on MAG’s SHRP2 C19 project see:
The MAG SHRP2 team consists of MAG, the Pima Association of Governments; North Front Range MPO; Denver Regional Council of Government; Pikes Peak Area COGs; Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho; Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) of Southern Nevada; RTC of Washoe County; Mid Region COGs; Mountainland Association of Governments; Wasatch Front Regional Council; and Spokane Regional Transportation Council; Arizona DOT; Utah DOT; California DOT; Nevada DOT; Western Regional Partnership, and the Western Governors Association.
ArcGIS Viewer for Flex is a web application that allows users to build their own custom mapping application. For more information, see
Available at
The SanGIS JPA Agreement is available online at
The SanGIS-SANDAG MOA is available online at
As a data steward, SanGIS is responsible for maintaining NHD data for San Diego County.
These are the MPOs for Hernando/Citrus County, Hillsborough County, Pasco County, Pinellas County, and Sarasota/Manatee County, as well as the Polk County TPO.
TBARTA is one of five regional transportation authorities in the State of Florida, which are mandated by the State of Florida to ensure regional coordination around transportation planning and other transportation project activities. See The CCC currently covers a broader geographic area than TBARTA (CCC includes Polk County).
The CCC anticipates that ultimately there may be a State statutory change that formalizes the CCC-TBARTA merger (currently the statute refers only to TBARTA; the CCC was developed under an interlocal agreement).

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