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Smart Transportation Requires Smart GIS Solutions in Atlanta

Jeffrey M. Johnson, GISP, Director, GIS Information Technology, Atlanta DOT
Jeffrey M. Johnson, GISP, Director, GIS Information Technology, Atlanta DOT

Jeffrey M. Johnson, GISP, Director, GIS Information Technology, Atlanta DOT

The City of Atlanta, newly formed, Department of Transportation (ATLDOT) aims to improve the lives of its users ranging from Atlanta residents and daily commuters to tourists visiting the city. Firmly established within the cradle of the Civil Rights Movement, Atlanta’s DOT is committed to delivering equity, safety, and mobility through various transportation options. At the core of this mission is Vision Zero Atlanta and its purpose of eliminating traffic fatalities within the city.

To support the department’s initiatives, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and techniques are now central for managing project and asset information. As Director of this Program, I must keep innovation central to deliver the vision and mission effectively. Over my 15-year career in the public sector, I have witnessed geospatial data analysis change from traditional paper maps and spreadsheets to robust servers, database platforms, and visualization tools. Furthermore, smart technologies, coupled with the power of Geographic Science, provide a realistic visualization of the operation of our city.

The traditional role of GIS has focused on collecting, maintaining, and analyzing geospatial data. New toolsets allow us to take data to another level. Planned preventive maintenance is taking the place of reactive maintenance. Predictive analytics optimize responses to unplanned events and even begins approximating the location of the next automobile crash. ATLDOT was recently involved in a project reprioritization effort, due to budgetary shortfalls. In this exercise, GIS prioritization models guided decision-making for project funding, ensuring that equity, safety, and mobility were reinforced throughout the process. The Vision Zero Atlanta initiative utilizes the same techniques, improving program effectiveness.

Presenting actionable insights to key decision makers is what makes our Transportation GIS practice impactful

Smart transportation solutions, or Intelligent Transportation Solutions (ITS), is an evolving set of tools including camera feeds, sensor nodes, smart streetlights, and analytical tools. These mechanisms provide real-time information regarding our roadways. In addition, data sets aid analysis of trends and inform the engineering process with roadway design geared to improve overall safety.

We connect the power of GIS technology, which provides true location intelligence, to support workflows related to asset inventories, communications, asset management, and business intelligence reporting. Through this effort, ATLDOT is more agile and adaptive in an ever-changing technological landscape.

“Ease of use, meaningful visualizations, and cost-effective data management are paramount in ensuring that these solutions are effective and sustainable.” Daphne Rackley, Atlanta Deputy CIO

The difficulty of coordinating pothole repairs, enhancing pedestrian safety, and issuing contractor permits, in addition to other data points, requires a holistic systems approach. Integrating an array of technological solutions with GIS allows us to solve numerous problems which accompany these responsibilities. To ensure technological adoption, the City of Atlanta has standardized GIS as a key system of record. It is utilized as an enterprise solution for the city, empowering its business units to collaborate. ATLDOT actively shares asset inventories and planned project work through a GIS web services, which is consumable by other city departments. This visibility provides an increase in operational awareness, reduction in the need for rework, and bolsters coordination within the city.

Presenting actionable insights to key decision makers is what makes our Transportation GIS practice impactful. By delivering a system of engagement, ALTDOT’s GIS Program is truly paving the way to a better customer experience in the Atlanta area.

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