November 13, 2008
Summary of the Federal Highway Administration’s Quarterly Webinar: Applications of Geospatial Technologies in Transportation
These notes provide a brief summary of the PowerPoint presentation discussed during the webinar. The focus of these notes is on the question-and-answer session that followed the PowerPoint presentation. The presentation is available upon request from the webinar speaker, Jared Causseaux, at Jared.Causseaux@dot.state.fl.us
Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)
Approximately 70 participants attended the webinar.
Introduction to Presentation
Mark Sarmiento of the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Office of Interstate and Border Planning thanked participants for logging into the webinar. This webinar was the first in a quarterly series of webinars dealing with the application of geospatial information systems (GIS) and other geospatial technologies to transportation. This webinar focused on the enterprise GIS system developed at FDOT.
Enterprise GIS Presentation
FDOT developed a business case to help support more informed decision making about implementing enterprise GIS. As part of the development of the business case, FDOT conducted stakeholder interviews and developed a sample data flow chart. The business case specifically recommended that:
- Data should be accessible in an enterprise environment while allowing for distributed ownership and maintenance of data.
- Distributed enterprise GIS implementation was the most beneficial option with moderate risk.
- There was a need for strong management support and stakeholder involvement in an enterprise GIS.
One of the enterprise efforts underway at FDOT is the Florida Unified Basemap Initiative, a comprehensive, web-based dataset of roadway geometry and attributes. There are multiple benefits of the Florida Unified Basemap Initiative, one example is the collection of better quality crash data and ability to share local and state information to improve safety, emergency, and disaster preparation.
A strategic plan was also developed from the business case to establish an organization-wide framework for GIS governance. The strategic plan had five major goals that focused on increasing the use of GIS to support business processes, improve department-wide communication, leverage department-wide geospatial resources, and utilize organization-wide geospatial information management.
Implementation of enterprise GIS solutions at FDOT has occurred, and will continue to occur, in two phases. Some components of Phase I, such as the business case and mock-up design of a GIS clearinghouse, have been completed. Other Phase I components, as well as Phase II components, will be completed in the near future.
Questions and Answer Session
What is the role that Florida counties will play in the enterprise system?
They have a limited role. The enterprise system is primarily between FDOT and its districts.
Does FDOT have separate databases for the clearinghouse and editing/stewardship capabilities?
No, FDOT does not. The clearinghouse has been designed but nothing more has been developed.
Will the clearinghouse replace the clearinghouse at the Center for Urban Transportation
Research (at the University of South Florida) that is used by Florida's Efficient Transportation Decision Making (ETDM) process?
No, it will not.
Why do state DOTs seem to struggle with enterprise GIS? Is this struggle inherent in the functional structures of such organizations?
Every state DOT is different, so it is difficult to answer that question. For example, FDOT is decentralized while other DOTs are centralized.
What GIS platform is FDOT using?
FDOT is using the ESRI platform.
How were software decisions handled in the enterprise implementation and before that, was there single license server implementation?
Right now, FDOT's contracts are with ESRI but a few of FDOT's districts have increased efficiency through the use of consolidated licenses. Some of FDOT's functional areas in the central office have several contracts. Currently, FDOT tries to utilize concurrent licenses when it can and limit its license use when possible. FDOT does not yet have any enterprise solutions with ESRI.
Did FDOT have a consultant help with development of the strategic plan?
No, FDOT did not. FDOT's strategic plan is small and includes about 5-6 pages of measurable objectives. FDOT is now implementing the objectives from the strategic plan.
Can you provide more information about FDOT's functional steering committee?
Right now, the functional steering committee includes a GIS manager/coordinator from each district along with GIS staff in the Central Office functional areas. The functional steering committee makes recommendations to the management steering committee, which is comprised of the Director level and above.
Did FDOT find that reaching consensus was difficult?
The business case provides a sound backing for consensus. Developing a clearinghouse with many types of GIS information can be contentious, but FDOT is taking an approach where owners maintain control of their data.
Is FDOT considering linking the Unified Basemap and the existing linear referencing system (LRS)?
Yes, FDOT's Safety Office is considering providing a link to put those together. The Safety Office has a critical need for mapped crashes on all roads.
What risks exist for implementing enterprise GIS?
There is a risk in duplicating efforts. In apition, there is a risk that building a big system will require a large amount of staff and resources to maintain.
Can you provide more information about the request for proposal (RFP) for FDOT's Unified Basemap development?
The RFP focuses on procurement of a statewide license. FDOT took several steps prior to developing the RFP, such as a feasibility study that showed the need for a statewide license.
What role do the GIS coordinators play and where are they located within the organization?
The GIS coordinators are located within in different organizational locations depending on the district. For example, in district 7, the coordinators are located in the Office of Information Systems (OIS). In district 1, the coordinators are in Operations. In district 3, they are in Planning.
Is FDOT coordinating with other enterprise GIS efforts in the state or within FDOT?
Yes, FDOT does coordinate extensively with other enterprise GIS efforts such as the ETDM.
How did other Florida agencies play a role in FDOT management support of an enterprise license?
The Unified Basemap is one of the items on the statewide strategic plan—the Transportation Records Coordination Committee (TRCC) backs it, and it is also backed by FDOT and Safety. Other agencies also support the Unified Basemap. However, we can continue to improve our communication with these agencies as well as sharing of licenses.
Does each FDOT district have its own information technology (IT) group and servers?
Yes, each district has its own server. The FDOT Office of Information Systems supports all the districts, provides all the hardware to them, and it is consistent across districts.
Do you have a master copy of the larger geodatabase in the main office and how does FDOT ensure that everyone has the same version?
FDOT is currently looking into this issue and is exploring ways to increase data coordination.
Does IT support come from a central group?
The OIS at FDOT has a mission to meet user requirements by providing and supporting these technologies.
Is there any effort on the state government level to do licensing for all state agencies?
This may be one of the long-term goals, but for now it is too early to say that this is what they'll be doing. Right now, they just have a strategic plan and are looking for executive support.
To conclude the webinar, Mr. Sarmiento presented some other information and resources related to applications of GIS in transportation:
- The American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHTO) sponsors an annual GIS for Transportation (GIS-T) symposium. The 2009 symposium will be held in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, from April 5-8. The AASHTO GIS-T symposium website is available at https://gis-t.transportation.org/
- FHWA's GIS in Transportation website highlights innovative uses of GIS for transportation and offers related information, opportunities, and resources for sharing uses and applications of GIS. The website is available at https://www.gis.fhwa.dot.gov
- The next webinar in the FHWA-sponsored GIS in Transportation webinar series will occur in late winter/early spring. Details for the future event and other upcoming webinars will be publicized on the GIS-T yahoo group distribution list, in emails to State DOT GIS managers, and on FHWA's GIS in Transportation website.
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