Everything is Somewhere: Takeaways from the 2023 GIS-T Symposium

Created on April 18, 2023
by Mike Boyink

Vintage gas station signs on Route 66.

Author John Steinbeck called it “The Mother Road.”

You know it as Route 66.

Created in the mid-1920s, Route 66 connected the main streets of rural and urban communities to develop the first national route from Chicago, IL, to Los Angeles, CA.

Mapping out Route 66 required using early surveying equipment like poles, chains, and “transit theodolites” – a steampunk-looking device that combined a spirit level, a precision telescope, leveling screws, and a vernier scale.

Bubbles is a 66-foot-tall sculpture on Route 66 in Arcadia, OK.

If you wanted to create Route 66 today, you’d work with the Transportation GIS (GIS-T) community members.

2023 GIS-T Symposium

The Geospatial Information Systems for Transportation Symposium (GIS-T) comprises the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, state-level Departments of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration, various transportation-related research councils, and transportation industry products and services providers.

And fittingly, this past week found the GIS-T community gathering on Route 66.

The annual Geospatial Information Systems for Transportation Symposium moves yearly, but the 2023 event was in Oklahoma City, OK.

According to the conference website:

The GIS-T Symposium brings together professionals from government and private industry interested in the use of GIS for transportation. Network, share experiences, share knowledge, see state-of-art software, and learn more about this field. Join your fellow professionals in addition to the 40+ exhibitors in the technology hall.

State Summary and Roll Call

Rizing staff demo Rizing software solutions to a potential customer.

A unique event at the Symposium is the State Summary & Roll Call of States. A representative from each state can address the crowd for one minute, summarizing their accomplishments of the past year and listing goals for the following year.

Notable accomplishments included:

  • Completion of risk assessments
  • Cloud migrations (often to corporate offerings like Amazon and Google)
  • Disaster recovery planning
  • Rockfall mitigation
  • Evacuation route planning
  • Asset management implementation
  • Crash analysis
Booth visitors could play ski-ball to win a Garmin watch.

Notable goals included:

  • Exploring Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
  • Creating digital twins
  • Implementing data governance
  • Using LiDAR to detect asset changes
  • Using drones for data collection
  • Gathering vertical clearance data for sharing with navigation companies
  • Creating a “citizens insights” app

Rizing at GIS-T

More software demonstrations at the Rizing booth.

Scheduled breaks from symposium presentations brought visitors to Rizing’s exhibition booth on the tradeshow floor. Visitors enjoyed a mix of business and pleasure, with a ski-ball competition available in between demonstrations of Rizing’s GIS-related products, including:

  • Road Analyzer – share data across your organization and provide access to local or state agencies
  • Mercury – simplify complex SAP and GIS integration
  • OmniSpatial – browser-based field and office data collection
  • Productivity Tools – linear referencing maintenance and analysis
  • Road Video Viewer – video log viewing across multiple years of collection
  • HPMS Assistant – tools for FHWA’s annual HPMS submittal process

GIS-T Takeaways:

The Rizing booth staff had a busy time connecting with other attendees. Some of their takeaways included:

DOTs have lots of data, but it’s captured in disparate systems,” says Rizing Senior GIS Consultant Logan Erikson. “Getting that data consolidated and integrated is an ongoing challenge.

I’ve definitely learned more about HPMS (Highway Performance Monitoring System),” says Rizing Senior GIS Analyst Paige Drippé.

GIS-T conference attendees chat with Rizing Geospatial staff.

The conference validated the need for intersection management,” says Rizing Senior Project Manager Jesse Day. “We saw it coming. The Federal Highway Systems Model Inventory of Roadway Elements (MIRE) data collection requirements are causing a real deadline now.

Next Up, Atlanta

Atlanta will host the 2024 GIS-T Symposium.

Maybe the Georgia DoT officials can offer tips for navigating the 71 different Atlanta roads with “Peachtree” in the name.

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