The Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT)
Online Transportation Information System (OTIS)
October 2, 2018
Summary of the Federal Highway Administration’s Quarterly Webinar: Applications of Geospatial Technologies in Transportation
Due to the number of participants wanting to attend, this webinar was held twice (once in May 2012 and once in June 2012).
These notes provide a summary of the PowerPoint presentation discussed during the webinars and detail the question and answer sessions that followed both presentations.
The presentation is available upon request from the webinar speakers, Gary Aucott (Gary.Aucott@dot.state.co.us) and Allen Ibaugh (firstname.lastname@example.org).
GIS Cartographic and Data Development Specialist
Data Transfer Solutions (DTS)
Approximately 100 participants attended the May webinar and approximately 20 participants attended the repeat June webinar.
Introduction to Presentations
Mark Sarmiento of FHWA thanked participants for joining the webinar. This webinar was the fourteenth in a quarterly series of FHWA-sponsored webinars. The series deals with the application of geographic information systems (GIS) and other geospatial technologies to transportation. This webinar focused on the integration of data and mapping services in CDOT's OTIS.
Background and Development
Allen Ibaugh presented the background and overview of OTIS. OTIS was developed in response to an issue that many State Departments of Transportation (State DOTs) face: having multiple data sources, each with its own means of access. CDOT approached DTS with an idea to develop a single platform through which users could access datasets stored in multiple locations. They envisioned a system through which users could seamlessly access planning data, right of way plans, traffic counts, and roadway inventory information using a single portal, even if source data were maintained by different CDOT departments in different databases.
Prior to developing OTIS, CDOT conducted a background needs study by approaching departments within the agency, including planning, right-of-way, and environment staff, to determine their requirements for such an application. Since CDOT anticipated identifying a variety of needs, it established four drivers for prioritizing and consolidating the findings and recommendations from the needs study:
- Number of likely users for the system;
- Level of time and resources needed to implement the feature;
- Visibility of the feature within CDOT and among stakeholders; and
- Availability of data to support the feature.
Based on the key drivers, CDOT established four priority features to build into its application. The availability of metadata was CDOT's first priority, as staff emphasized the importance of being able to identify the source of specific datasets. Staff also suggested incorporating a catalog of data to locate specific datasets. Other top priorities included linking data between maps and reports and enabling technology upgrades.
In addition to identifying priority features, functions, and attributes for OTIS, CDOT also established the following key goals for the system based on the needs study:
- Enhance software based on new technology to streamline workflows;
- Use sustainable architecture to access upgrades to new technologies;
- Integrate data into a single application; and
- Integrate GIS functions into a single application.
Once it established the requirements for developing OTIS, CDOT began to collect relevant data, from a variety of sources, including hard copy documents, database files and Excel spreadsheets. CDOT also identified and characterized users prior to developing OTIS in order to tailor the application to users' skill level and technical abilities. Following these preliminary steps, DTS began to develop the workflow of how the application would function. This enabled DTS to determine whether tools would meet CDOT's needs during the development process, rather than once they were fully developed and implemented.
Once it designed the application, DTS began to develop the architecture of the system, building on Colorado's Linear Referencing System. Throughout the process, DTS and CDOT continuously inspected and adapted the application. They used a modular approach so that certain aspects of the tool could be adjusted without affecting other functions.
Overview of OTIS
Mr. Ibaugh provided an overview of OTIS. Users can access data via maps, graphics, diagrams, or via a demographic search. The Highway Data Explorer allows users to view data for a specific county or route. A user can also select a specific roadway segment to access geometric data, traffic counts, video logs, documents, and information about structures on the segment. The Traffic Data Explorer tool provides an interface for traffic data, including annual average daily traffic, future traffic projections, and axle loading.
Additionally, users can access video logs through OTIS. Currently, only one year of video logs are available but CDOT plans to add historical log data. Various data about the images, such as route name, mile point, and collection direction is displayed as a user scrolls through the video images. Internally, CDOT employees will also have access to pavement condition information and multiple camera views showing the downward-facing pavement images.
OTIS also offers a data catalog search feature, which allows users to identify available datasets. This feature highlights the importance of metadata in the development of OTIS, as it allows users to search and view metadata associated with each dataset. Users can also access right-of-way plans, which are linked to routes, as well as structures data.
OTIS includes Styled Layer Descriptor tools with which users can build a query based on classification information, pavement data, safety data, and other criteria to produce a GIS map and/or a straight-line diagram.
Finally, Mr. Ibaugh discussed several CDOT applications associated with OTIS. The Project Insight Network includes project-level data for reviewing plans and human and natural environment impacts for projects that are currently under development. The Network includes tools for Planning and Environment Linkages to support collaboration and data review in the National Environmental Policy Act process.
Gary Aucott provided a live demonstration of OTIS. The homepage for OTIS is meant to emphasize usability, with a large search box and large buttons for the most popular categories and features. Mr. Aucott demonstrated the Highway Data Explorer and Traffic Data Explorer as well as some additional features of OTIS, including its data catalog, its ability to export geographic data, statistics, and demographic data. Finally, Mr. Aucott demonstrated the more sophisticated Flex map viewer which includes route and reference tools that link to the video log viewer.
Question and Answer Session
When will OTIS be available online?
The configuration demonstrated during the webinar will go online to the public late August, 2012. Access to certain features, for instance the strip maps, will be restricted but the rest will be open to the public.
Are CDOT GIS roads using the 1:100,000 scale?
For spatial accuracy, they are at a scale better than 1:100,000 at this point.
What level of time and resources was needed to index all of the data to be able to categorize it in OTIS?
Some indexing is still under way by three or four staff members before OTIS goes live. Data cataloguing is still a work in progress through the new OTIS administrative interface.
What was the overall cost for this project?
Several of the modules were already built, including the video log and map viewers. Developing the application to integrate them cost about $300,000.
Is dynamic segmentation used in the route map?
Yes. Dynamic segmentation tools are used in both the Highway Data Explorer and the more advanced map viewer.
How do you update data that are not maintained or published by CDOT? Do you publish non-CDOT data?
CDOT maintains the data for the route network but it also receives and publishes data from local jurisdictions. CDOT updates its data every quarter while most local data are updated annually.
Does OTIS have a workflow component?
The general application does not but the PEL component does. The functions in OTIS reflect the workflow processes that our customers expressed during the needs study. We are currently exploring other tools that we could integrate into specific workflows, for instance, access permits, surveying, or asset management. We tried to present as much data as possible to start out and the process is evolving as the tool is used more frequently.
How long has it taken to reach this point in the development process? How large is the development team and what is the distribution of disciplines in it?
Providing data access in OTIS has taken about six months, while the user needs study was conducted several years ago. The map and video log viewers were both developed a few years ago too. Overall, it has taken about three or four years to develop all of the applications that comprise OTIS.
DTS and CDOT work as a team. CDOT employs subject matter experts and GIS and database specialists to work on this project. DTS has some subject matter experts, but its team is primarily comprised of developers, system architects, and application developers. The work has been split about half and half between DTS and CDOT.
Are you beta-testing OTIS?
Yes, we are currently beta-testing OTIS among CDOT staff.
Can you explain the human and environment impact feature?
Users can select a transportation planning region and make comments along a specific corridor. It provides information about the corridor and users can also view information about the visions and goals of the long range transportation plan as well as environmental impacts, endangered species, water conservation, and other issues involved in planning.
How many full time equivalent employees are responsible for maintaining OTIS?
Does OTIS have a document management system? How does the application manage a large amount of files?
Documents are stored in a file share system and are hyperlinked. In regards to management, bridges are named based on their structure identification number. Right of way plans have a more complex structure. These two categories are not managed by our unit but by various regions and their right of way groups. We link to where the regions store these documents.
Have you considered an online file storage solution?
Yes. We are looking at integrating data from multiple places to develop a more comprehensive solution.
Are there any drawbacks to the technology used?
No, we have not identified any real drawbacks.
What are future plans for OTIS?
In the future, we may try to make OTIS more compatible with mobile applications.
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