GIS bike lane mapping saves hundreds of hours

As the City of Edmonton recognized the new age popularity of bike lanes and progressively expanded the network, Doris Gin realized somebody had to pull the mapping of the lanes out of the ‘dark ages’.

Doris, a geographical information system (GIS) analyst with Transportation Services, knew that city staff would continue to spend untold hundreds of hours poring over bike route maps until the City’s bike lane mapping was transformed from lines on a map into GIS data points in a powerful computer.

Average citizens don’t realize how crucial accurate data-based mapping is to City operations. The GIS system contains critical spatial information that locates virtually every city road, streetlight, sewer, building and much more, all the way to manhole covers.

So how will GIS-mapping of bike lanes help the City be more cost-efficient? A good example is the preparation of budget estimates for bike lane maintenance, a task that’s not as easy as it might seem on first blush.

Doris Gin’s bike path GIS mapping project will save Transportation staff hundreds of hours of painstaking work.

Doris Gin’s bike path GIS mapping project will save Transportation staff hundreds of hours of painstaking work.

Operating with non GIS-based information (i.e. lines on a paper map) staff would have to calculate the exact length of the network, the age and composition of the road base for various lengths of the network, how many kilometres have painted buffer zones, and any changes to the physical layout of the road and its bike lane in the previous year.

“That process might take a whole week of work for a couple of people,” says Doris, “about 100 hours of work.”

Now that Doris has finished her one-time-only conversion of lines on maps into GIS data, however, a job like that will take just a couple hours.

“With the data all entered, all we need to do now is keep it updated with additions to the bike lane network. Other types of relevant information, like changes of roadway alignment or repaving, will be entered in the unified GIS system, so they’ll automatically become part of our knowledge base for bike lanes.”

Doris says the new GIS-based bike lane mapping system will only take a day per year to update.

You can tell Doris is a precision-focused professional. She glows when she’s describing her work.

“I love working on spatial data because it ends up being so useful to so many people, and it saves everyone so much time. Once it’s in there, you have instant access to statistics for budget and maintenance purposes,” she says.

Doris is now working to make the data available on SLIM to City departments, and eventually on Open Data.

Doris Gin has converted the City’s old-fashioned lines-on-paper bike lane map into state-of-the-art geographical information system data, which will save hundreds of needless hours of work every year.

Doris Gin has converted the City’s old-fashioned lines-on-paper bike lane map into state-of-the-art geographical information system data, which will save hundreds of needless hours of work every year.

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