In our data-driven world, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) factor into almost every facet of our work. 80% of all data has some spatial component. SRF’s team of experts works with clients to access and maximize the value of data and use it to overcome their challenges. One of the best ways to get the most from geographic data is to automate complex and time-consuming processes involved with using massive and complex datasets.
SRF works with DOTs to process vast volumes of historical crash data, enabling sophisticated tools that help prioritize safety improvements and visualize crash data in interactive “dashboards.” This data also feeds an automated tool that generates a “crash tree,” which enables safety experts to understand, in a single representation, the number, types, and any causes of years’ worth of crash data at any point on the roadway network.
The SRF GIS team gathers intersection and roadway data sets that include roadway characteristics (e.g., pavement type, traffic volume) and the crash data for each county. Risk factors are calculated and prioritized from that information to identify high-priority roadway and intersection safety needs throughout the state. With this information and analysis, counties are better positioned to receive funding for roadway improvements.
By automating this process with GIS, what used to take weeks of manual data manipulation can now be accomplished in minutes.
Protecting Natural Resources
SRF also works with DOT maintenance staff to utilize GIS data in their winter snow and ice operations. Treating roads with salts or other chemicals to prevent ice buildup is necessary to keep travel safe in the winter. Unfortunately, these chemicals can have significant environmental effects, leading to a dilemma: How to keep the roads safe while minimizing my ecological impact?
GIS can analyze a wide range of sensitive environmental features statewide. For example, soil type, land use, water resources, and vegetation data sets reveal areas of high sensitivity to de-icing chemicals. This data is then available to DOTs as easy-to-use “heat maps” showing the most sensitive road segments. Maintenance staff can then make informed decisions about material applications’ type, amount, and timing to protect the most sensitive areas.
On this GIS Day, we want to highlight and celebrate all the innovative ways GIS technology touches and improves our communities daily. From analysis and visualization to geospatial insights and thought leadership, GIS is constantly evolving the engineering industry in countless positive ways.