“Customer driven, now more than ever” is the mantra of the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA). Accomplishing such a goal is not always an easy task for a state Department of Transportation (DOT) in the United States, especially when there are more cars on the road each year and an increasing demand for information to be publicized at lightning speed. With this in mind, SHA recently released the Mobility & Economy Dashboard, a web-based mapping application that shows projects taxpayers paid for in the last year and how well those efforts impacted the overall performance of Maryland’s roadways.
In its effort to create and maintain a world-class highway system, SHA strives to improve performance and mitigate hotspot challenges such as congestion, unreliability, and bottlenecks. Each year, SHA publishes an annual Mobility Report that is accessible to the public via the SHA website. The report details the previous year’s transportation performance of every road under SHA’s authority which includes over 31,000 roadway miles. It is a useful tool for SHA stakeholders, such as employees and public officials, to see how effective projects have been in increasing the mobility and reliability of roadways. It also provides information with regard to incident management, traveler information systems, multi-modalism, smart growth, and freight movement. All of these areas are critical to the movement of goods and services from Point A to Point B throughout the region and greatly impact the state’s economy.
The Mobility Report helps to keep the public informed on pertinent information, but SHA wanted a tool to be used in conjunction with the report to explore the data behind it and allow people to get more information about specific locations and time periods of interest. With the success of the Mobility Report, SHA embarked on an initiative to provide greater access to the data at various resolutions and time periods, making it possible for individuals to discover information about specific roadways and projects that directly impact them.
In addition to making complex performance information more dynamic, SHA wanted to increase transparency and improve accountability with stakeholders, including the public. To this end, SHA enlisted the help of Esri Partner, JMT Technology Group (JMT), to create a public-facing web application that presents key performance metrics in an interactive and digestible manner. JMT worked with a team of consultant partners to harvest the data from SHA’s Mobility Report, creating a custom dashboard that shows users the impact of SHA’s projects over time. The application, known as the Mobility & Economy Dashboard, provides an intuitive interface to interactively explore the mobility performance metrics by year and hour of day for a user specified location, animate changes over a 24 hour period, quickly identify problem areas, and overlay mitigation strategies with hotspots.
While most dashboards utilize a combination of charts and graphs to communicate key messages, the Mobility & Economy Dashboard also incorporates maps to illustrate congestion, reliability, and traffic volume trends and solutions across Maryland. The application conveys three key messages to SHA stakeholders:
Besides congestion, the dashboard maps illustrate reliability and traffic volume trends and solutions across Maryland. A mini-map facilitates navigation from statewide to county- and corridor-specific data. SHA uses ArcGIS Server to publish the congestion, reliability, and traffic volume map services that are consumed by the application and makes use of freely available ArcGIS Online basemaps, giving users the ability to choose between imagery, imagery and street, topographic, or street maps.
This first-of-its-kind application is helping SHA make real-time, data-driven decisions each day and provides visibility of SHA’s projects, programs, and policies to the public. It is integrated with Esri technology already in use by the organization to maintain spatial data, therefore increasing SHA’s return on investment by expanding access to its spatial data. Now, the “Customer driven, now more than ever” approach is not only an objective for SHA; it is becoming a reality.
The Data Services Engineering Division (DSED) is responsible for collecting and reporting roadway and travel characteristics on publicly maintained roads. Their mission is to provide accurate and up to date highway data, highway mapping, GIS services, and traffic monitoring data to the State of Maryland, local governments, the public and the federal government. The division also provides existing and future year traffic volumes and operational analysis information to support all feasibility, planning, design and construction projects at SHA. The division is responsible for the SHA Annual Mobility Report, and leads congestion and reliability analysis and before/after studies to support transportation decision-making at SHA. The Division leads the MD Statewide Transportation Model and is actively engaged in various MDOT and SHA wide initiatives like the Planning for Operations, Transit Oriented Development, Comprehensive Highway Corridors, and Road Safety Audits.
JMT Technology Group is a progressive geospatial and information technology services provider that assists government and private sector markets to solve complex business challenges through the use of web, desktop, and mobile technologies. We help our clients to access and visualize their data spatially making it possible to ask and answer questions that would otherwise not be possible. JMT’s industry experience allows our clients to receive more immediate and measureable return on investment through our ability to facilitate a proven, collaborative process that ensures the best solution for each unique challenge.