Webinar 7
Ohio Department of Transportation, District 2 -
GIS Asset Management Systems

August 10, 2010

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, Fred Judson (Fred.Judson@dot.state.oh.us).


Fred Judson, GISP
GIS Coordinator
Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) District 2


Approximately 60 participants attended the webinar.

Introduction to Presentation

Mark Sarmiento of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) thanked participants for joining the webinar. This webinar was the seventh in a quarterly series of FHWA-sponsored. The series deals with the application of geospatial information systems (GIS) and other geospatial technologies to transportation. This webinar focused on the development of ODOT District 2's GIS asset management applications.


ODOT District 2 is located in the northwest corner of Ohio and contains about 3,700 miles of roads, 1,200 bridges, 5,000 culverts, and 36,000 signs. ODOT District 2's GIS program operates under the Information Technology Division.

Several years ago, ODOT District 2 was faced with a need to conduct large-scale asset inventories and develop an effective system to manage collected data. Existing asset collection practices were based on inconsistent standards and recorded in multiple data formats, hindering integration of data into a single system.

To address these needs, ODOT District 2 examined the business requirements for collecting data on various asset types, including level of accuracy, update frequency, cost, and technology limitations. It then evaluated several potential data collection technologies such as Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), aerial imagery, and global positioning system (GPS) units.

After conducting this evaluation, ODOT District 2 concluded that use of video logs met many established business requirements for asset inventories. First, ODOT had already been using video logs to document all sections of the State of Ohio's transportation infrastructure. Second, the video logs were updated on a frequent and regular basis.1 Additionally, they were inexpensive to create and there was already an established internal business process for their use. Furthermore, the vans used to collect the video were already equipped with GPS units, allowing the possibility of establishing coordinates for points in video imagery.

1The video logs had previously been updated every three years; ODOT currently updates them every other year and eventually plans to transition to an annual update.

Asset and Data Management Applications
ODOT District 2 built three asset management applications that manage spatial data: 1) the GPS asset application; 2) the web-mapping application; and 3) the Buckeye Asset Data Collection System (BADCS). Each application is detailed below:

  • The GPS asset application allows users in the field to assign information to assets as they conduct inspections. The application features a simple user interface, which mimics the functionality of a paper form. Currently, GPS units are used to document inspections and asset inventory information; they will soon be used to create work orders. Once a user collects information on a GPS device, they can connect it to a computer and it will automatically upload its contents to the asset management system.
  • The web-mapping application allows users to view any inventoried asset and export data in ESRI Shapefile or MicroStation DGN formats. Users can also search for assets by roadway or area and then generate reports that list relevant information, including past, current, and future projects.
  • BADCS compiles video and location information collected by a fleet of GPS-equipped vehicles. Prior to BADCS, ODOT District 2 evaluated video collection solutions available from several vendors but was dissatisfied with their function and cost. To meet its business needs, ODOT District 2 built the BADCS application in-house.

In addition to the asset management applications, ODOT also maintains data management applications that allow users to connect to any available database and develop information fields to link to assets. The application helps standardize asset collection forms across all platforms.

ODOT District 2's interoperability application allows incorporation of data from partners into various asset management applications, which can export data in many formats. For example, by running a single command line in the workspace, ODOT District 2 can share bridge and culvert data in Shapefile and Excel formats with metropolitan planning organizations.

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Current Uses of Applications
ODOT District 2 currently uses the three asset management applications to catalog culverts, signs, overhead signs, lighting, Americans with Disabilities Act curb ramps, and Roadway Weather Information System equipment. Information for an estimated 98 percent of signs has been collected to date. Use of these applications has led to:

  • Increased efficiency. The applications allow one person can collect information for 450 signs per day, while collecting information through GPS can take longer and lead to higher costs per asset.
  • Cost effectiveness. BADCS has led to significant cost savings due to the application's low development cost (approximately $6,500). Additionally, District 2 achieved more cost savings by partnering with Ohio State University and the Penta County Vocational School's GIS program to allow students to capture sign asset information in BADCS. These partnerships provided students with real-world GIS experience while District 2 benefited from an expanded workforce to complete its inventory.
  • More effective data sharing. ODOT District 2 has been able to widely share BADCS data. Consultants and government agencies have requested data to aid with funding proposals, while District 2 uses data internally to analyze the density of sign placement and overloaded sign posts. The software also reduces the need to conduct ad hoc field visits, as staff can locate and examine assets in the video log from a desktop computer.

Future of the Asset Management System
In the future, ODOT District 2 plans to combine all asset management applications into a single, web-based system controlled by tabs. This new version will also allow users to list all signs in a particular area and calculate the distance from a location to a particular sign. ODOT District 2 also envisions the integration of BADCS into a vehicle navigation system, which would display imagery and assets over GPS directions. A "smart phone"-based augmented reality application is another possible development. This type of application would project asset locations onto a live video feed of a phone's camera and could be used by field crews to identify assets hidden from view.

Mr. Judson demonstrated ODOT District 2's video log application. Users can collect an asset by selecting a location on the ground in the video image and the appropriate asset type. Once the user enters pertinent information about the asset, it will be placed on the roadway in the video image and can be viewed from any of ODOT District 2's mobile GPS units or its web-mapping application.

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Question and Answer Session

How often does ODOT collect roadway video?
ODOT originally updated the video logs on a three- to four-year cycle. That has been reduced to a two-year cycle and will eventually be reduced to one year.

Can you elaborate on the accuracy you are able to achieve from the video log application?
The accuracy of the system depends on two factors: GPS units installed in the video log collection vans and desktop information collection based on the video logs. The vans used to collect the video logs achieved variable accuracy depending on a range of factors. The accuracy of post-production data collection relies on original data being accurate. They system can accurately assign coordinates to points close to the camera (within ten feet) but the accuracy degrades for points selected near the horizon. Point locations identified with a poor GPS signal might have an error of thirty feet. In such cases, users entering point information can correct locations using aerial imagery.

What other technology components do you expect to introduce in the future?
ODOT District 2 plans to combine several asset management applications into a single, web-based system using Microsoft Silverlight technology. An in-dash navigation unit that employs augmented reality is also planned.

What attribute data were collected for the signs?
Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices codes, sign width and height, number of signs in a cluster, number of sign posts, maintenance responsibility, sign text, and presence of a post reflector.

Was the mobile GIS software built in Visual Studio or ArcGIS?
It was built in Visual Studio. ODOT District 2 will use ArcGIS Server to implement the new web implementation of its system.

Who are your partners in the central office?
ODOT District 2 partners with ODOT's Office of Innovation, Partnerships, and Energy.

How do you enter information while driving down the road?
All information is entered into the system after the video has been recorded. Once the video has been post-processed, a user collects assets by viewing the video on a desktop computer.

How were you able to develop the video log application for only $6,500?
ODOT District 2 had a talented programmer develop the application while working as a part-time intern.

Do you link asset locations into your linear referencing system?
Yes. Once collected, assets are assigned to mile posts. ODOT District 2 plans to upgrade this functionality so that it occurs in real-time as assets are collected in the system.

Is District 2 willing to share the code base for the application with other agencies?
Yes. Please contact Fred Judson if interested.

Did you have a formal agreement in place to allow students to perform the asset collection?
ODOT District 2 had an informal agreement with Penta County Vocational School. The only formal component of the agreement was to allow students to access District 2's network. Because Ohio State University receives Federal funding for its GIS program, District 1 was required to complete a one-page application to outline the activities and anticipated results for the students. The students were also required to give a formal presentation upon completion of the project as documentation of their experience.

How did you work around the IT security issues of providing students with access to the network?
ODOT District 2 worked directly with the ODOT Office of Information Technology department to complete the necessary documentation for the students to collect data. Also, students were restricted in their access to the asset management system.

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Closing Information

To conclude the webinar, Mr. Sarmiento presented some other information and resources related to applications of GIS in transportation:

  • FHWA has updated the GIS in Transportation website at www.gis.fhwa.dot.gov. The website highlights innovative uses of GIS for transportation and offers information, opportunities, and resources for sharing uses and applications of GIS.
  • The summer issue of FHWA's GIS in Transportation newsletter is now available at www.gis.fhwa.dot.gov/newsletters.aspx.
  • The next webinar in the FHWA-sponsored GIS in Transportation webinar series will occur in approximately three months. 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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