The Importance of GIS Data in Transportation Planning

The Importance of GIS Data in Transportation Planning

GIS data is an imperative part of transportation planning, helping stakeholders efficiently publish studies and share findings.

Travel is inevitable. From getting to work to the grocery to your extended family three states over.

At times, our route might be navigated by car, other times by foot, scooter, bike, bus, subway, electric vehicle, rideshare, or airplane — likely a combination of many!

As we start to think about how communities get around, the complexity of transportation planning becomes unveiled.

Transportation planning is a matter of conceptualizing space, and the many details juggling movement from point A to B safely and timely. Planners must also take into account balancing equity for all users of the system.

Adding to the intricacy of the process, designing the future of community transit is often a group project. Planning involves private organizations, engineers, administrators, and public opinion, in addition to local, state, and federal governmental stakeholders.

Incorporating and organizing scope and planning partners quickly becomes a juggling act. 

To help curb the juggling, planners rely on the communication of data. Specifically, of the geospatial sort.

Importance of GIS Data in Planning

GIS data can help to reveal travel indices such as travel time reliability, level of road service, safety, etc. Communicating these metrics and performance measures is key to identifying road segments for corridor studies and long-range transportation plans.

Data helpful to planning the future of community movement goes beyond road names, and locations. Socio-economic data, safety related metrics, and demographic data all play a role in successful transportation planning. 

Tools such as Urban SDK's Studio and public dashboards bring those data together.

Urban SDK's platform was built specifically around the needs of Transportation Planning Organizations (TPOs) and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs). Within a few clicks, data sources can be taken from spreadsheets to interactive mapping tools. Planners can combine data sets, highlight specific aspects, and share maps that reflect the intrinsic attributes of our roadways.

The capability to feasibly integrate data leads to smarter planning and, ultimately, smarter cities. 

Transportation Planning with Urban SDK

In Palm Beach County, FL smart city planning means addressing bicycle safety. 

After downloading a collection of datasets, planners can add them to Urban SDK's GIS Studio. Studio is a user friendly tool, which can be accessed through any computer and  internet browser (Chrome, Edge, Safari, Internet Explorer).

Cumbersome, lengthy datasets can be easily transformed in Studio. 

Spreadsheet containing 158 columns of transit-related information. The details of the data become more evident once plotted on a map, versus interpreting a lengthy spreadsheet.

To address  bicycle safety in Palm Beach, planners plot the data across a map. This map contains data on  Palm Beach roads, Average Annual Daily Traffic (ADDT), bike lane locations, and bicycle accidents from 2019 to 2021.

The combination of datasets provides planners a more complete view of the type of safety risks posed to bicyclists. Yellow, glowing areas on the map highlight locations with multiple, documented bike accidents.

In Studio, Planners can sort through the data further by using the filter tool.

In Palm Beach, specifically, planners can filter to identify if left hand turns, bike lane placement, time of day, or traffic speeds influenced or contributed to bicyclists in each accident.

This empowers the planners in Palm Beach County to narrow down and prioritize road safety, and identify ways to improve upon road design for the long term. 

Transparency with Public Dashboards

After collaborating, analyzing, and forming a plan it's important to share your findings with your intended parties.

This is facilitated with the Urban SDK's public dashboard.

Utilizing the public dashboard cuts down on digital clutter. It reduces the amount of rouge data files saved on a desktop, and eliminates any worry about combing through email chains in hopes of locating data from six months back.

The dashboard allows for professional, organized data sharing.

Urban SDK's public dashboard feature is a shareable website where your audience can review, visualize, and download the data you choose to share. Visit our dashboards here

Visitors to the dashboard do not need an Urban SDK account, nor do they need specific software to access the data.

The public dashboard is easily accessed by simply clicking on the dashboard link

Users can quickly queue up geospatial planning tools and share them with their audience by toggling the Publish feature.

Only visualizations toggled as published will be visible on your dashboard.

From there, the dashboard can be customized with your organization’s logo for a professional look and feel.

Visitors to your dashboard are able to interact, view, and download the data.

Comprehensive Planning Platform

All of the Urban SDK Studio features work together to streamline the planning process. Digital data becomes digestible and shareable to all screens.

Urban SDK's platform aims to ease the long range transportation processes, and help in identifying corridor studies.

When conceptualizing the space, time, and attributes of moving cities, planning needs are met within the platform.

By taking transportation planning digital, stakeholders are able to ultimately move into smarter plans and smarter cities.

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