As smart cities and Smart Traffic Systems (STS) become an evergreen reality, it’s worth knowing how GIS contributes and how your GIS software solution will benefit. Ideal for data optimization and the extension of data functionality, GIS is the solution Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) need to strive towards a smarter future.

Current ITSs utilize sensors, cameras, cellular routers, and automation for monitoring and collecting data on transportation and traffic. So, in other words, they do an excellent job of collecting intelligent transport data.

However, civil engineers need a way to translate and comprehend all of this onto, for instance, a map. GIS is an ideal solution for this pain point, and though it may sound simple, there is a lot to this technology and its benefits:

What are the Benefits of Using ITS Data with a GIS?

Designed to make sense of the mass amounts of data collected by ITS, GIS offers many benefits:

 ●      Transport Safety Management

An intuitive tool, GIS, can help determine the causes of accidents so that preventative measures can be taken. It provides accessible and readable data needed for planning and prevention.

●      Environmental Impact Assessment

Before the building of roads, railways, or airports can begin, it’s common knowledge that a thorough environmental impact assessment needs to be done.

With GIS, imaging of site ecosystems and animal life can be taken and analyzed well before construction begins. This tool even provides predictive ecosystem reports crucial for an informed assessment.

 ●      Route Planning

Improving traffic management, and reducing the heavy reliance on existing transit lines, has never been easier with GIS. Ideal for route planning and modeling, GIS is a tool that ensures all planning processes run smoothly.

 For example, by helping to determine soil quality, GIS can provide essential data on drainage and slopes. This data helps determine where is ideal for new traffic routes and where should be avoided.

 ●      Traffic Modeling

Vital in studying traffic flow in an isolated environment, traffic modeling is imperative for planners as it provides information on factors that can impact traffic, such as road widths and shape, vehicle use, and construction projects.

 With GIS, satellite imagery can be combined with surveying, cartography, and data analytic capabilities. This leads to the superior creation of detailed mapping needed for effective modeling.

 ●      Accident Analysis

Working with a combination of CCTV and GIS, officials will be able to pinpoint accidents to their exact locations. Done in real-time, emergency responders can be efficiently directed to where they are needed.

 GIS with CCTV data will benefit accident response rates and decrease the chances and longevity of traffic pile-ups around the accident site.

 ●      Highway Maintenance

Being able to note, monitor, and keep up-to-date on every pothole on a stretch of road is nearly impossible, yet it is crucial for staying on top of maintenance issues.

However, with satellite imagining, real-time images of highways can be produced. Apply GIS to this, and an even more effective solution to highway maintenance is provided. The data collected by these satellites can be digitally stored and documented for government officials to view whenever they want.

GIS for your ITS

There are two main ways that GIS technology can be used with your ITS solution:

Integrated Spatial Data Bases

When using GIS, the information it stores develops an integrated spatial database that can be used for several transportation and planning purposes.

Consisting of several layers of independent data linked to the same coordinate system, keep in mind that this database needs to be maintained at a low level of disaggregation that’s readily available to be aggregated.

For example, the layers of an urban planning database would be separated into:

●      Major arterial and highway network

●      Secondary and local streets network

●      Rapid transit network

●      Bus routes and stations

●      TAZ boundaries

●      More disaggregated boundaries (tracts and blocks)

Other non-transportation-related layers, such as elevations and hydrology tables, can also be added for further organization. Or layers can be condensed by combining their information and specifying attributes (i.e., lanes, bus routes, or street type).

Geocoding or Address Matching

Geocoding is primarily used to determine the geographic coordinates of a specific point – based on information about the location. It uses data from street addresses, TAZ zones, and other boundary information that GIS stores to achieve accurate, real-time results.

In this instance, GISs currently have efficient algorithms for locating street addresses within the transportation network and even for interpolating longitude and latitude positions. Once your database has been given these geographic coordinates, it can be easily analyzed and translated to estimate spatial relationships.

The application possibilities of geocoding in transportation planning are near endless. For example, with dial-a-ride and other carpooling services, geocoding offers a live map of where all riders who need to be picked up are, and this can even match riders to their carpool.

To take this even further, the information collected from these applications, for instance, the translated end addresses of carpools, can be assigned to the appropriate TAZs. This stores geocoded address lists that transit agencies can utilize for marketing and analysis.

A Manageable Future

GIS has secured its place beside ITS software as part of today’s innovative solutions. Essential to many applications, GIS-based data management offers spatial data and geocoding capabilities that provide effective data representation within a GIS map. Analyzing and understandability have become that much more straightforward.

An ITS must-have, it will make all the difference in the experience your clients have with your ITS software. This is why even big data analysis and social media-based spatial data analysis now demand some form of GIS operations to process spatial data efficiently.

Taking the right steps towards a smarter future can be as easy as considering GIS as the ITS add-on you’re missing. Though Intelligent Transportation System Software already offers so much, GIS’s upgrade can make all the difference in staying relevant and providing your clients with what they know they need. 

This can be taken a step further with Esri’s ArcGIS, which provides unique capabilities, insights, and contextual tools for spatial analysis, imagery & remote sensing, field operations, etc. 

Combining the innovative possibilities of ArcGIS with the data handling capabilities of GIS mapping makes for a formidable solution to optimizing and utilizing ITS data. With this, you will offer the game-changing solution your clients have been waiting for.

Read more: What Tools can you use to Study Social Media Data?

Tyler Boykin

By Tyler Boykin

Tyler Boykin is a Director of Sales at Chetu, Inc., a global, custom software development company, where he oversees the Hospitality & Travel, Transportation, Events & Meetings, and IT Service Management accounts, as well as a myriad of partner tools. A graduate of the University of West Georgia, Tyler joined Chetu in 2013 where has risen through the ranks of the sales department and helped the company grow into an award-winning organization.

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