Cowboy Boots, Coffee Shops, & Gravel Roads: Chasing the Dream of a Multipurpose Road Centerline File
Synopsis: Mapping and creating a unified database of all public roads in Arkansas posed many challenges and provided many lessons for how to capture road system data through GIS and on the ground efforts.
The webinar (recorded on August 18th 2021) brings together Brian Coolidge, senior project manager from AppGeo, Bill Johnson, Carpe Geo Evangelist for AppGeo, Sharon Hawkins, section head of GIS and mapping for the Arkansas DOT, and Jonathan Duran, deputy director of the Arkansas GIS office to discuss the data documentation process and the role GIS played.
A Single Standard
Arkansas has over 100,000 miles of state and local public roads, but the tracking and mapping of these roads was inconsistent and there was no unified set of data for statewide information. In response to federal mandates (HPMS/ARNOLD and NG 911 for example), Arkansas DOT set out to create a single data set to capture the complete road system for use by emergency services. Representing state leadership for GIS and GIS at the DOT, Sharon and Jonathan travelled across Arkansas on a “roadshow” to gain cooperation and obtain data from local officials and non-profit organizations. This on the ground effort was essential to ensure there was no duplication in the data. Gathering data from various stakeholders required building relations across the state, and showing the power of accurate GIS data for policy and governance.
The resulting statewide dataset enabled the DOT to meet new federal reporting requirements for local roads as well as their traditional highway performance and safety reporting on state highways. The same dataset also meets the requirements of the local partners for data they need to maintain local roadways within each county.
The Next Generation of 911 Compliant Datasets
New GIS data standards for next-generation 911 (NG 911) are presenting the next set of challenges to Arkansas as they work to evolve their data to meet this rigorous use case. More details will need to be added to the roadway dataset and the success of the earlier partnerships between the state and local officials will again be tested. The challenge of keeping a single dataset up to date and able to meet new requirements never ends.
Getting into contact with local officials and working on the ground to supplement data collection efforts was essential to the success of the project. Without the ability to form these local relationships, compiling the data would have been almost impossible to do.
Duran: “We had to spend a lot of time interfacing with local data editors. To do our work we had to introduce them to a number of new data fields, which isn’t always the easiest thing. Additionally, these data editors had other responsibilities. Another problem was turnover and the loss of knowledge between data editors. It was hard to keep up and keep our ducks in a row. But maintaining these relationships was key to continuing these systems.”