Maryland State Highway Administration’s (MDSHA) Enterprise Geographic Information System (eGIS)
June 11, 2014
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, Laurie Goudy (LGoudy@sha.state.md.us).
The webinar recording is available at: https://connectdot.connectsolutions.com/p62qw6k5jtc/.
GIS Coordinator/Assistant Division Chief
Maryland State Highway Administration
eGIS Program Manager/Assistant Division Chief
Maryland State Highway Administration
GIS Project Manager
Maryland State Highway Administration
Approximately 60 participants attended the webinar.
Introduction to Presentations
Mark Sarmiento of FHWA thanked participants for joining the webinar. This webinar was the 22nd 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 Maryland State Highway Administration's (MDSHA) Enterprise Geographic Information System (eGIS), a geospatial data portal that allows internal agency staff to quickly and easily access an array of geospatial data and mapping applications for data-driven analysis and decision support.
MDSHA's Office of Planning built eGIS, a custom web mapping application and portal, three years ago to allow staff to easily view and use the agency's GIS data for a variety of business needs. Unlike conventional GIS software, eGIS allows MDSHA to share GIS data with internal and division staff without needing to distribute software licenses.
The portal functions as a data gateway: it consumes data produced by MDSHA and other agencies, but individual data owners are the ultimate stewards of their own data. The portal currently has over 1,700 users, including some from other Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) modes. While eGIS currently serves MDSHA's day-to-day business needs, the agency would like to develop an executive eGIS to allow agency leadership to look at key performance areas and assets.
eGIS Functionality and Demonstration
The portal was built using Adobe Flex API. It combines groups of data layers and GIS viewing, searching analyzing, editing, and reporting tools to support common business unit processes and workflows. Approximately 60 individual widgets, or tools, perform specific functions, and users can create custom content, which they can merge, share, report, export, or print. The portal also serves as a transportation asset management inventory, in which the Office of Maintenance and other offices can record and manage asset data. Access to specific editing tools is controlled, but for the most part, anyone in MDSHA can access all data.
Ms. Goudy conducted a demonstration of eGIS to highlight its features and functionality. Users can search for and open widgets they need, view basic information about the layers in the active window, and select features individually to get specific information.
Users have the option of using a variety of basemaps, including streets, property and parcels, and satellite imagery basemaps. Users can customize and create their own content within eGIS, and can set security permissions for that content so that they can choose who can access it.
Ms. Goudy highlighted four content themes in eGIS that serve MDSHA's specific business area needs. These include:
- Slope hazards. The Office of Planning developed a tool within eGIS that allows staff to view and record slope failures in the State. In order to log a slope failure, users search for a location using MDSHA's linear referencing system or zooming in on the map. Users can then enter a description of the slope failure incident and upload photos of the failure. Once this information is entered, eGIS generates an email to the slope failure team, who decide if it is a valid slope failure, and may then initiate a process to assess the impact of the failure.
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance. eGIS allows users to examine the extent of ADA compliance by State, county, or district in summary charts, and by specific asset (a sidewalk, for instance). By allowing staff to see all information about compliance in one place, resources can be used more efficiently.
- Highway design data. Users can access building geometry at project sites and upload files that are relevant to the project. Instead of having to contact another office for title sheets, plans, and other design materials, MDSHA staff can use eGIS to search for a project, view relevant information, and download documentation directly from eGIS.
- Property and parcel. MDSHA sends out notification letters to property owners being affected by transportation projects. MDSHA staff can view parcel data, select parcels, and link to information about the parcel on the State Department of Assessments & Taxation (SDAT) website using eGIS.
eGIS and Performance Measurement
The Office of Planning would like to create a Mobility and Economy Dashboard to make the data shared on eGIS available to the public using a web application. Available metrics would include recurring and nonrecurring congestion issues, as well as information about policies, plans, and agency procedures.
eGIS contains an administrative control panel that calculates use metrics to help MDSHA better understand how and why certain business units are generally using the portal, as well as specific tools. The control panel metrics also help MDSHA understand how to effectively promote the portal and any new datasets.
Question and Answer Session
How did you decide on the default symbology for each layer and how might the user change that symbology?
The Office of Planning initially determined what layers the portal would need to include and the information the portal would need to convey. The office gives content owners as much control as possible over how the content looks, and picks symbology based on the status fields the maps are trying to show. Content owners approve the content data, tools, and symbology in a staging environment.
Do long-range planners as well as the those preparing environmental compliance documents all use this tool as part of their decision-making?
eGIS contains datasets from MDSHA's Office of Planning and Preliminary Engineering (OPPE) and the State's ten-year plan. MDSHA's future goal is to ensure that eGIS includes data from all of the Maryland counties' long-range transportation plans.
Have business units changed their business processes to conform to using the tool?
The Office of Planning doesn't require business units to change their business processes to use eGIS. It is up to individual users to take advantage of the tool, but offices are also receiving direction about how to use it. Use of eGIS has evolved over the past two years and MDSHA is starting to see successes in using the portal.
What coordinate system is the basis for eGIS' maps?
The maps currently use the State Plane Coordinate System, but the public version will use the Mercator projection.
Is it possible to offer some of these data through a map service for local counties? For example, could you offer parcel points with SDAT data?
MDSHA does not actually host parcel points data. The data comes from the individual counties and is aggregated by the Maryland Department of Planning. Overall, some of the data in eGIS is available at Maryland's Open Data Portal, but some is behind the administration's ArcGIS Server firewall. Participants should contact firstname.lastname@example.org if they would like to see any particular data layer. Other state agencies and counties host their data through MD iMap.
How many datasets can be accessed through eGIS?
eGIS hosts over 120 data services, which come from various places throughout the agency. Few, besides those hosted by MDSHA, can be edited by the agency.
Do you have any agreements with those who provide data?
The Office of Planning doesn't include data in eGIS without senior manager approval, as the office wants to ensure the data have been vetted, that posting the data will not cause any confidentiality concerns, and that the data are current. Up-to-date data are especially important as GIS staff intend for eGIS to help support data-driven decision-making. Users can fill out a form to request content in eGIS. The Office of Planning communicates with content owners in regular intervals to ensure their data is current.
Do you bring in data services from State agencies or local agencies?
Currently eGIS brings in data from the Maryland Department of Planning and others. MDSHA also brings in an external basemap service from MD iMap and has been successful in bringing in a live weather feed.
Since eGIS is based on Adobe Flex API, do you have plans for updating the portal in the future?
Are there any tools in the software to conduct fiscal analysis of repairs to slope failure, for example?
Are you looking into Esri Roads and Highways?
Yes, MD SHA is currently trying to procure this product.
Do you envision this tool to be a data reconciliation portal for counties or other agencies to post input or redlines for resolution?
There is currently no tool set up for counties to use for this purpose, but eGIS does include some redlining features and users can create graphics. MDSHA gets country improvement data in different formats from counties each year, so ideally the administration would have a web application set up to do this. However, nothing is in development.
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