December 16, 2009 By Mary Jo Wagner
A small GIS team at the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) seems to like a good challenge. After all, it's not every day a state DOT tries to create a single, seamless repository of transportation information covering the entire state -- from the small private road to the primary arterials -- and does it successfully.
But that's exactly what WSDOT is doing, in collaboration with Washington state, in building the Washington Statewide Transportation Framework (WA-Trans). It's the data-heavy system Tami Griffin, WA-Trans project manager, and her advisory team envisioned it would be six years ago when WSDOT decided to create a comprehensive, statewide transportation GIS. As she suspected, the development and implementation of WA-Trans has become one of the most complex and progressive GIS transportation initiatives ever undertaken. The project is a massive Web-enabled GIS transportation system -- a huge product of data integration and conversion, software integration and application development.
"Across the states there are some DOTs that are implementing some of the smaller-scale pieces of what WA-Trans has, but I am not aware of any agency that is implementing a system on the same scale as WA-Trans -- and only a few are thinking of something even close to this," said Griffin, WSDOT's IT and GIS project manager.
With the primary goal of creating a single-lane "highway" to one transportation data repository for the entire state, WA-Trans incorporates the information management strength of GIS software with the real-time data transformation and distribution capabilities of Web-based GIS and spatial extract, transform, load (ETL) tools. The combination eventually will provide users with a standardized, seamless and holistic view of Washington's transportation network. Initially connecting the state's and counties' road-related data, WA-Trans' final destination will be multimodal -- including continuous and connected data sets for light rail, heavy rail, ferries, ports, airports and nonmotorized transportation infrastructure.
By defying the odds -- there was no precedent for such complexity -- WA-Trans is moving toward better efficiency, collaboration and fiscal responsibility for local and state authorities. It's also a testament to what a small group with limited resources can achieve when committed to a common goal.
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