Integrating enterprise data
For many Departments of Transportation (DOTs) and roadway agencies, the days of rapid highway construction have passed. DOTs now primarily focus on preserving existing investments and maximizing the performance of built infrastructure. Effective decision making with respect to the mix of operational improvements, investments to advance safety, and maintenance spending requires access to a wealth of information to help drive these decisions. And while almost all of this data is available within these larger organizations, few have been successful at bringing that information together in ways that could help foster more intelligent decision making.
The root of this problem stems from the original development of these data and information systems. Each department often developed its specific functional applications (whether for pavement management, structures, or safety) independently and often using different ways of organizing and storing information. As a result, state DOTs commonly find numerous linear measurement and relational database systems being used to capture and manage the various inventory information and data. And for many agencies, this has been the central hurdle preventing them from optimizing their data management practices.
At the same time, geospatial technology has come a long way toward removing this obstacle. GIS now brings together and integrates disparate data from across the enterprise, helping organizations more effectively exploit their vast information stores to carry out their objectives. Because the location of these various assets and roadway information is inherently spatial in nature, GIS provides the foundation for information integration that gives transportation professionals and decision makers unprecedented access to data. With a completely integrated data management infrastructure, they can analyze complex tradeoffs and make more informed decisions.
While many transportation organizations have implemented GIS to help them manage a number of their individual systems, fewer have been successful at using the technology to create enterprise information systems. This remains the central question for information technology professionals and one to which only GIS can provide the answer.