A new tool that combines layers of information in a web-based application makes planning transportation options much easier.
Called UPlan, the new system allows users to “see so much information at the touch of a button,” says Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) Planning Director John Thomas.
UPlan is a web based map that allows the user to choose individual elements in the natural and built environment. Features, such as parks, utilities, and wetlands, pop into view on the map as the user checks a box.
“It took a huge effort to get it to this point, ” says John. UPlan has been in development for about three years. Now, the system is providing a lot of utility to UDOT planners who use UPlan to see the potential impacts for projects including future or expanded transportation facilities.
Many agencies have contributed to UPlan, which is an “open architecture” system where no one entity owns or controls the information, says John.
Before UPlan, UDOT planners would have to get information from other agencies, and then view that information in many different forms. It was problematic to see, for example, if a planned road crossed wetlands, utilities or archeological areas by viewing many different maps or descriptions.
While using UPlan does not eliminate the need to do on-site investigation, it does reduce a lot of guess work which can save time.
UPlan is also easy to use, so its use is growing among people in other specialties areas at UDOT and at other state agencies.
John does not consider UPlan to be “the” system, but it’s certainly a great start to “building a library and knowledge base of what our needs are.”