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Webinar 20
Tennessee Department of Transportation’s (TDOT) E-TRIMS: Spatially Enabling TDOT’s Enterprise for Decision Support

October 29, 2013

Summary of the Federal Highway Administration’s Quarterly Webinar: Applications of Geospatial Technologies in Transportation


These notes provide a summary of the PowerPoint presentation discussed during the webinar and detail the question and answer session that followed the presentation.

The presentation is available upon request from the webinar speaker, Bryan Semore (Bryan.Semore@tn.gov).

The webinar recording is available at: https://connectdot.connectsolutions.com/p34rcvtc0l4/.

Presenter

Bryan Semore
GIS Technician
TDOT
Bryan.Semore@tn.gov

Participants

Approximately 60 participants attended the webinar.

Introduction to Presentations

Mark Sarmiento of FHWA thanked participants for joining the webinar. This webinar was the 20th 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 TDOT's most recent iteration of the Tennessee Roadway Information Management System (E-TRIMS) application.

Presentation

Background
Mr. Semore presented on E-TRIMS 4.0, the latest version of a map-centric, web-based roadway information management system. E-TRIMS was first developed as a mainframe database in the early 1970s, and was initially used only to house data for state routes and interstates. In 1997, TRIMS was migrated to an Oracle database and TDOT partnered with Intergraph to create easy access to data, queries, and reports in the system. In 1998, TDOT added photolog and mapping capabilities. Today, E-TRIMS contains data for all publically controlled roadways in the State. Currently more than 1,500 TDOT staff and those who do business with the department use E-TRIMS.

E-TRIMS is important to TDOT for a number of reasons. The application is easy to deploy, has a user-friendly interface, and makes it easy to share data with other agencies and the public. It also eliminates the need to download the full TRIMS client software for those accessing the system in “read-only” mode.

E-TRIMS 4.0 Highlights
TDOT accomplished several major milestones with the development of E-TRIMS 4.0. Users can now:

  • Run reports
  • View all inventory data
  • Add a table to a query output
  • Use a user-friendly pick-list for city, urban, and Metropolitan Planning Areas (MPA) areas instead of a number
  • See total mileage with query results
  • Page through query results with large record sets
  • Export data into multiple formats
  • Access an improved view of route information

Demonstration
Mr. Semore demonstrated the functionality of E-TRIMS, highlighting the new capabilities of version 4.0. This version allowed TDOT to remove 90 percent of the data from the TRIMS client. The majority of the data is now pulled from the department's Oracle database in real-time when requested by a user. This increases the speed at which users can access data.

During the webinar, Mr. Semore ran a number of reports to demonstrate E-TRIMS' capabilities. For example, he ran a simple route feature report for a select county. The query sent a request to the server and the report was returned in a pdf document. TDOT has seen a significant savings in users' time and resources since the report is now automatically summarized in a pdf document. Mr. Semore also ran a lane mile report on a select city, demonstrating that users no longer need to know the number that identifies a city and can instead choose the city from a drop-down list.

Mr. Semore also highlighted the ability of the E-TRIMS map to display differently at different scales. As the user zooms into an area, the scale determines what data are displayed in the background. This scaling allows the system to run faster. Because many users are most interested in the data accessible through E-TRIMS and not its mapping functionality, one of the main features added to E-TRIMS 4.0 was the ability to see underlying data without performing a query. The user can select a “view all inventory” button and a feature; the database will pull data into a tabbed interface that displays route feature, road segment, traffic statistics, roadway description, geometrics, road history, and road system information. There are a number of E-TRIMS power users who need to be able to export information for their own analyses. These users can now choose the type of file (e.g., Excel document, shapefile) to which they would like to export.

Finally, Mr. Semore demonstrated how to perform an advanced query in E-TRIMS and the application's built-in quality assurance, quality control (QAQC) features. If the user runs a query and there is a mistake in the data, the system will display an error message.

Question and Answer Session

Does the system contain right of way (ROW) information?
The system contains estimated ROW information in the geometrics table. A new ROW application is currently being developed.

Are there new users you'd like to target for the next version of E-TRIMS?
The next step we are working on is the most important step to date. Currently, a significant number of users are accessing the system through Cisco Virtual Private Network (VPN) software. It is time consuming for TDOT to keep those systems up and running. We are working with Tennessee's Office of Information Resources to allow users to access the system from the internet in a secure fashion. This will allow users to type in a specific web address and have access to the data through an internet-based application. In the next three months, this will become a reality.

Who uses E-TRIMS?
Users represent a variety of organizations, including other State agencies, third-party consultants, etc. TDOT has an outreach program to encourage local counties and cities to use the system. The department recently finished collecting roadway data for the entire State and now has a tremendous amount of information to share with local agencies, regional planning organizations, and metropolitan planning organizations. Our next step is to encourage those who have access to the data to help keep the data current (e.g., receive updates from local entities when new subdivisions are built).

Where did TDOT get its county boundary feature class?
From U.S. Geological Survey topographic maps, which were digitized using MicroStation.

Has TDOT considered migrating this application to mobile technology?
This is one of the shortfalls in the system. Unfortunately, E-TRIMS currently only works with Internet Explorer 8 or 9. TDOT is actively searching for a way to make the application available on a mobile device.

Are the stored queries available only to the individual user, or to all users on the system?
Queries can be saved as public, private, or shared. Public queries, which can be created by a very limited number of users, can be seen and run by anyone. TDOT has access to user metrics on these queries. Any user can save private queries, which are only available to that user. Any user can also save a shared query, which can be found by searching the name of the user who created the query.

What are all the map layers available in the application and how many are there?
The layers are divided into groups. Most of the basic layer types are come from TDOT's GIS, including highways, special markings (e.g. ramp centerlines), major bodies of water, map boundaries, economic boundaries, and political boundaries. TDOT uses a GeoMedia product to create “smart stores,” which are data condensed to its smallest form. By condensing data, such as the background information, the system can run much faster. Some of the data is also from the Tennessee's Office for Information Resources, which is the equivalent of the Information Technology (IT) department for the whole State.

Does E-TRIMS link to your video log data?
Yes, it does. TDOT has integrated system access with the department's photo log. TDOT is in the midst of enhancing the photolog now and has spent a lot of time and effort to make it better. The department is also looking at a new web control that would allow users to view other asset data, such as Google or Bing maps through the system as well.

Can you give an example of a thematic query?
[Mr. Semore demonstrated how to run a thematic query.] For example, a user could run a query on a certain county and the query will display the annual average daily traffic and number of lanes in a pie or bar chart and table.

What database software are you integrating with E-TRIMS?
TDOT is using Oracle 11, which works fairly well given the department's needs.

Does E-TRIMS push/pull data to/from other systems? If so, does it use any views/materialized views for this purpose?
Yes, TDOT does draw from another system. Each night, a view is created within the TRIMS database that is populated with TRIMS data. Advanced queries pull data from this view. E-TRIMS does not use materialized views: E-TRIMS takes the tabular data and marries it to the geometry to produce the linear graphics.

In order to accomplish this, TDOT had its vendor Intergraph create a procedure that sends geometry that includes only 25 percent of the dataset points (a “thin” set) so it can be pulled faster. A power user can tell the system to pull a higher resolution geometry (“full” set), but for the majority of users, the standard resolution is adequate. The department's philosophy is that if a user doesn't have a good experience, they won't return to use the system.

Does ETRIMS capture historical data for temporal querying?
No, not at this time.


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