The National Academies

NCHRP 20-27(2) [Completed]

Development of System and Application Architectures for Geographic Information Systems in Transportation

  Project Data
Funds: $200,000
Research Agency: University of Wisconsin--Madison
Principal Investigator: Alan Vonderohe and Theresa Adams
Effective Date: 4/1/1994
Completion Date: 8/31/1997

State DOTs are faced with the need to maintain and access a broad base of information related to their transportation systems. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have been recognized as an effective means to assemble and process data from a diversity of sources and present it in an easily understood graphical format. The research conducted in NCHRP Project 20-27 concluded that GIS-T offered significant opportunities for data and functional integration, but found only limited progress made by the states in implementing GIS-T. This research resulted in the development of a GIS-T design concept based on a server-net architecture, the description of GIS-T applications, and the identification of other research to address the data, institutional, and technological issues. Research is specifically needed to develop innovative concepts and integrate applications of GIS-T technologies in various areas including management systems, planning, environmental impact analysis, maintenance management, traffic operations and safety, and hazardous materials routing.

The objective of this research was to develop fundamental data and functional models for GIS-T systems and applications, which can facilitate the implementation of the technology and provide the basis for the development of the innovative applications critical to the missions of the DOTs. A focus of the effort was to develop data and functional models for applications beyond the ISTEA management systems. This effort was intended to provide a top-level view of the common information, technology, and functionality needed to support innovative applications, provide the basis for the formulating of implementation plans, and stimulate the development of new applications. To accomplish the above objectives, the following tasks were undertaken: (1) Characterize the general data and analysis needs for policy-level, infrastructure management (decision-support systems), environmental design, and real-time operations applications. (2) Conceptualize innovative GIS-T applications to determine the data and functionality that are required. The effort should begin with a review of current practices and a detailed assessment of recent or emerging GIS applications to determine the types of information utilized, the internal structuring of processes, and the forms of outputs generated. The model for an integrated GIS-T for the management systems to be developed in the FHWA GIS-T Pooled-Fund Study should be used as a basis for the innovative applications. (3) Adapt or develop data and functional models for GIS-T that would describe the common information elements and functional capabilities to support various existing and innovative applications. (4) Develop system- and application-level models in sufficient detail to provide the basis for the development of detailed architecture and functional prototypes for each application. The models should be based on the server-net concept and be generic enough for use on any software platform. Prepare an interim report that describes the applications, the associated data and functional models, and the integration into a GIS-T system. (5) Hold one or more workshops to solicit feedback on the data and functional models developed and the innovative applications devised. (6) Refine the data and functional models based on the feedback from the workshop. Assess the costs and benefits of various implementation options using emerging technologies (i.e., object-oriented programming, information engineering tools). (7) Document the process used in this research to facilitate the development of other applications. (8) Prepare a final report to document the entire research effort.

Status: The research is complete. The final report was reviewed by the project panel and found to be technically sound, but too detailed for publication. A research results digest summarizing the final report was prepared to highlight important findings. The panel also scoped the research efforts for a continuation phase under Project 20-27(3).

Report Availability: Project findings from Tasks 1 through 3 have been documented in Research Results Digest 218, "A Generic Model for Linear Referencing Systems." Research Results Digest 221, "Development of System and Application Architectures for Geographic Information Systems in Transportation," documents the findings of Tasks 4 through 7. The contractor's detailed final report is available from the NCHRP.

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