Mobility & Economy Dashboard

Promoting a Data-Driven Approach to Safety and Mobility Improvements

January 11, 2015

3 Key Highlights:

“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.

Annual Mobility Report and the Need to Bring Static Data to Life

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.

Mobility & Economy Dashboard: Sharing Data Interactively

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.

What’s Happening? Using Maps to Tell a Story

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:

  1. What is happening? (Data trends in SHA’s Key Mobility Performance Areas)
  2. What is SHA doing? (Projects, programs, or policies that are implemented in a given year to address challenges)
  3. How have things changed? (Changes in mobility trends from the previous year)

The maps, implemented using Esri’s JavaScript API, are critical to communicating the key messages in the form of a story. For example, the dashboard conveys what is happening with traffic congestion by displaying congested road segments on a map symbolized with an easy-to-read color scheme: severe congestion in black, moderate congestion in red, light congestion in orange, and uncongested segments in green. A time slider bar allows users to select a specific time of day to view on the map or animate the data to see how roadway congestion changes over the course of a 24-hour period. To understand what SHA is doing to mitigate congested areas, the map changes to show the locations of major and minor projects. Spatial relationships between these projects and congested road segments can immediately be seen by a user in this way. The dashboard demonstrates the impacts projects have made over time with a map that symbolizes segments by decreases or increases in congestion over the previous year.  

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.

The Mobility & Economy Dashboard makes it simple for stakeholders to view mobility data geographically, stay informed of what SHA is doing, and assess for themselves whether SHA’s projects and policies are adequately reducing congestion and improving reliability despite the ever increasing traffic volume. By leveraging current HTML5, JavaScript, and EMBER standards, users of the dashboard are able to enjoy a seamless, device-agnostic user experience.

Real-Time, Data-Driven Decisions and Transparency Made Possible

With the utilization of several Esri technologies including the Esri JavaScript API, ArcGIS Server, and basemaps from ArcGIS Online, the Mobility & Economy Dashboard is an innovative tool for SHA to assess its performance metrics and allow greater agency transparency with the public.

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.

 


 

About the Maryland State Highway Administration, Data Services Engineering Division

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.

About JMT Technology Group

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.