Tag Archives: UPlan

How GIS Improves Data Quality

Quality Data

Screenshot of UPlan

Screenshot of UPlan Map Center

State routes and associated features, like mile markers, structures, and even fiber optic cable, can be represented by geo-located points or lines. The UPlan Map Center  provides a way to put data sets on a map, which makes the location of projects and features easy to find. A map can highlight errors and aid quality control. GIS also helps facilitate feedback from decision makers and the public by connecting data owners with data users to.

While putting data on a map sounds simple, “going from a non-visual data environment to a visual one is a complete transformative game-changer,” explains Rod McDaniels, Outdoor Inventory Control (OAC) Manager. For decades, the Department’s Outdoor Advertising Control Program struggled to consistently and quickly identify which routes in the state required billboard control and to pinpoint the exact location of permitted billboards on those routes. Records for the program were kept in individual online or hard copy files which had written descriptions of billboard locations.

UDOT recently combined all route and billboard data into the Outdoor Advertising Control Map. GIS has vastly improved the OAC program’s data quality. “GIS allows users to gain a visual understanding the geographic distribution of permitted billboards in the state. It quickly tells a story that cannot be told through endless spreadsheet rows.  It has exponentially improved QC/QA activities, and it has revolutionized service delivery to a broad spectrum of stakeholders.”

A bridge too far

Putting GIS data on a map also highlights location errors. “It’s like shining a light on something that can otherwise get buried,” says Sarah Rigard, UDOT GIS Program Manager. When the UDOT Structures Division data was put on a map, some of the bridges showed up in the wrong location – one was in Nevada. “A slight typo in a lat-long coordinate will cause the point to be in the wrong location.” Checking for errors on a map can be easier and more effective than checking a spread sheet line by line.

Making decisions

The purpose of the annual Utah Transportation Commission Workshop is to develop funding strategies and identify upcoming projects for the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). UDOT’s GIS team supports the workshop by developing presentation materials such as PDF maps, tables, and storymaps on UPlan. Developing presentations has spurred discussion of what information from the Electronic Program Management (ePM) database is the most useful and helpful to convey, and how that information should be presented to provide a thorough representation of transportation needs.

GIS tools provide another way review data, which improves the quality. As a result, UDOT has better information for making decisions and better tools for presenting information to stakeholders.

Preconstruction honored with regional quality award

UDOT Region Four’s Preconstruction Team has developed GIS tools that support and enable communication and better decisions, and charts a path for other work groups at UDOT to exploit GIS capabilities more fully.

The team won a WASHTO award recently for developing and employing GIS tools. Here’s an overview of some of the team’s efforts. Click here to read the full WASHTO award nomination.

DesignCompareAppScreenShot

This screen shot shows an image of an app that compares the phases of design for the Bluff and Sunset project located in St. George.

GEO-referencing design files

A Design-to-UPlan app displays the design files on a UPLAN map. Multiple design options can be displayed to facilitate discussion among UDOT and stakeholder groups. All three phases of a project, concept, plan-in-hand and PS and E, can be viewed simultaneously on one screen with multiple windows.

Mapping right-of-way survey files

The team has also built tools to convert Right-of-Way (ROW) survey data from CAD to GIS, and graphically display the UDOT ROW lines on a UPLAN map. Certified section corners, complete with tie sheets, are also linked to the map and accessible to the public. A ROW Type Map app displays property in one of three categories, ROW, Limited Access or No Access.

A pilot project, when fully implemented, will pull information from ePM each evening, and display individual parcels within a project area on a UPLAN map. The parcels will be color-coded to show the acquisition status of each parcel. Hosting the maps on UPLAN allows public access with security controls to insure the integrity of the data and to regulate sensitive information.

Mapping utility conflicts

By displaying utility data and infrastructure via UPLAN, project teams can work to quickly resolve potential conflicts with utility companies. Ultimately, Region Four’s vision is to create a database of all utilities within the region and statewide.

Mapping sensitive environmental areas

Region Four Preconstruction has been working with the State Historic Preservation Office to develop protocol to ensure the secure use of sensitive environmental data.  The team also standardized a GPS data dictionary for use in managing mitigation for Utah Prairie Dog surveys.

GIS tool benefits

GIS tools provide value to project teams and stakeholders. Maps help solve communication gaps among disparate groups, including the general public, commercial land surveyors, land owners, policy makers, and contractors. For example, UDOT Project Managers can help local leaders and the general public visualize project options and outcomes, and help facilitate a better decision-making process. And sharing an online map can allow productive work sessions with participants in various remote locations.

GIS maps and apps can support complex environmental processes. Region Four is home to most of Utah’s cultural sites and threatened and endangered species, and GIS tools help UDOT staff reduce or mitigate protected areas and avoid animal habitats.

While GIS has a sophisticated infrastructure, Region Four’s Preconstruction department has embraced the new technology to understand and develop its capabilities and has pioneered GIS tools for the benefit of all of UDOT.

Congratulations to Region 4 Preconstruction!

Team Members: Wendy Nez, Jared Beard, Ted Madden, Riley Lindsay, Bill Mecham, Don Johnson, Kelly Hall, Gernice White, Eric Hansen, Pam Higgins, Jared Barton, Randall Taylor, Cameron Gay, Silvia Barbre, Devin Monroe, Sam Grimshaw, Josh Peterson, Brandon Weight, Jeff Bunker, John Fraidenburg, Paul Damron, Monte Aldridge.

A gallery of maps shed light on STIP process

The STIP Workshop Gallery, now available through UPlan, enhances planning, decision-making and transparency.

The projects on the map are showing UDOT’s Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, or STIP, a four-year plan of funded state and local projects for the State of Utah.

The STIP is updated and published annually after a yearlong cycle of events that includes input from other government agencies, fiscal analysis, and public meetings and comments. The STIP serves as UDOT’s official work plan for developing projects from conception, through design, to advertising and construction.

A screen shot of Region One's STIP map gives the public a look the status of projects and how much is being spent.

A screen shot of Region One’s STIP map gives the public a look the status of projects and how much is being spent.

Before UDOT’s GIS team produced maps showing the STIP, the list of projects were published as static hard-copy maps or as a list of projects. The new STIP maps are web-based and dynamic, and change as UDOT makes changes to the program. The data on the maps are obtained from ePM, UDOT’s electric program management system, and are refreshed nightly.

Policy makers, program managers and the public

The maps will be used at the Utah Transportation Commission Workshop in April. “It gives them a view of the planned and recommended projects in the regions they represent,” says William Lawrence, UDOT Director of Program Finance. Lawrence will use the maps to zoom in to see the exact location, scope, planned schedule and budget of each project at the workshop.

The maps help “open a conversation up among groups at UDOT,” says Lawrence. Portfolio and project managers can use the maps to coordinate or combine projects. For example, a bridge program manager and a pavement program manager can coordinate projects to reduce impact to the public.

The maps help UDOT’s goal to be a transparent public agency. “In a nutshell, it basically says here’s the funding we have and here’s where we’ve planned to spend it,” says Lawrence. It lets the public see “exactly what’s coming in their direction.”

To find the maps, start from the UPlan Map Center website, enter STIP in the search field and select “search for apps” in the drop down box.

This post was written by Catherine Higgins of the UDOT Project Development division. It will also appear in the GIS bi-monthly newsletter.

THREE YEARS OF PLANNED PROJECTS

A new UPLAN gallery of web maps and apps, with information about upcoming projects, is now available through UPlan.

The gallery makes data on the UDOT Three Year Plan available to project managers, UDOT employees, policy makers and the general public. Projects are organized by program funding source, year and UDOT region. The gallery also has a web map of future planning through 2020.

The live data advantage

The online information can be referenced by employees across the department, or by UDOT and local governments to assure that all are viewing and using the correct information. The project data is updated nightly, so data is kept as current as possible.

Having dynamic, easily accessible information via the gallery enhances collaboration across UDOT divisions so projects can be synchronized to use resources effectively and reduce impact to the public. The gallery improves agency transparency since anyone with a web connection can use the gallery to view planned projects.

What is UDOT’s Three Year Plan?

Screen Shot of the Three Year Plan WebsiteThe projects in the Three Year Plan have been identified and prioritized by each of the four UDOT regions. The projects address UDOT’s three strategic goals, Zero Crashes, Injuries and Fatalities, Optimize Mobility, and Preserve Infrastructure.  Funding sources have also been identified for each project.

The main advantage for UDOT in having a three year program of road construction projects is coordination, says William Lawrence, Director of UDOT Program Finance. The plan lets the department evaluate the program as a whole and “helps maximize efficiency,” he says. For example, two projects in close proximity in American Fork, each planned for different years, were recently combined into one project that will take place in 2017. In this case, combining projects is a better use of financial resources, and “construction will only impact the public once,” says Lawrence.

To find the Three Year Plan gallery, access the UDOT Data Portal at data.utah.gov, click the UPLAN thumbnail, then click the 3-Year Plan thumbnail in UPLAN. Instructions for searching for or sorting projects are included in the gallery.

Show Me a Sign

The new Outdoor Advertising Control Map is improving government transparency and boosting efficiency at UDOT.

Photo of a billboard on I-15 in Weber CountyThe outdoor advertising industry, UDOT Project Managers and UDOT Permit Officers represent three of the groups that are benefitting from a new online map that shows geospatial locations of billboards along interstate routes.

State governments enforce federal rules regulating billboards on some routes. Back in the 1960s, Ladybird Johnson took an interest in highway beatification and worked with congress to pass laws limiting the proliferation of billboards on freeways.

UDOT has a codified agreement with the federal government that determines how billboards are treated on federally-funded primary routes, the National Highway System and Scenic Byways. The agreement, passed in 1968, established the UDOT Outdoor Advertising Control System.

Not controlling billboards would mean UDOT’s share of federal money for roads would be reduced by tens of millions of dollars each year.

From days to minutes

Until recently, finding out when the exact location of a billboard could take a day or longer. Depending on the information needed, state employees would sometimes have to check up to three separate documents or drive to a billboard location, which could be hundreds of miles away.

Now, new GIS tools mean it’s possible to put information about billboards in the hands of anyone with online access. See the map by visiting the UDOT’s Outdoor Advertising Control Program web page or UPlan, UDOT’s Map Center.

By using the map, a few mouse clicks can produce an image of the billboard and get information about federal rules that apply – like proximity to the closest billboard. “It’s the first time we’ve been able to see billboards online in real-time and connected to our inventory control system,” says Rod McDaniels, Outdoor Advertising Control Program Manager, who worked with a multi-disciplinary team of experts to re-design the way UDOT regulates outdoor advertising signs.

Getting it together

Gathering and organizing the information involved identifying known sign locations and filling in information gaps where needed, conceptualizing and building an efficient system to regulate billboards, and building a user-friendly online, interactive map. During the process, over 5 hundred geospatial points referencing signs were updated.

Saving time and funding dollars

Putting the map online has reduced the workload for UDOT employees, which conserves funding. Formal requests for information from the public have been reduced since people in the sign industry can easily find the needed information.

Feedback from the outdoor sign industry has been positive. “It brings us into the twenty-first century,” says Krissy Plett, Statewide Permits Officer for UDOT. “Now they don’t have to send someone out to view a sign” since users can take a virtual trip to a billboard using the map.

The map helps expedite project delivery too. UDOT project managers and maintenance workers can now easily see the exact location of signs that may be impacted by road work.

Links:

See the map, a PDF tutorial, and find information about state and federal laws and rules here.

See more maps or make your own map by visiting UPlan.

Interested in government transparency? See the UDOT Projects website to get information about past, current and future UDOT projects.