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Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Public Roads > Vol. 66 · No. 6 > National Highway Institute(NHI)

May/June 2003
Vol. 66 · No. 6

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The National Highway Institute (NHI)

901 N. Stuart Street, Suite 300

Arlington, VA 22203

www.nhi.fhwa.dot.gov

Applying Location Data to Transportation Planning

A picture is worth a thousand words. Spatial data—from maps and photographs to digital video and satellite imagery—can help transportation professionals visualize information in multiple dimensions. In the past, for example, to study the condition of pavement on a particular stretch of highway, an engineer would need to pull out a map, visit the location to take notes, and refer to numerous tables with historical data. Today, however, spatial data technologies make it possible for that engineer to gain access to photographs, digital video, weather trends, current and historical pavement condition data, and more—simply by clicking a mouse. The various spatial data technologies that make this possible are the subject of a new course available from the National Highway Institute (NHI).

The course, Applying Spatial Data Technologies for Transportation, aims to prepare participants to evaluate and plan for implementation of transportation planning applications that rely on spatial data technologies. The Federal Highway Administration, in cooperation with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, developed the course to introduce middle managers—those who manage technical specialists—to today's major spatial data technologies, such as remote sensing, geographic information systems (GIS), and global positioning systems (GPS).

Attendees will learn about various aspects of the applications, including the level of effort for development, technological challenges, training needs, and evaluation measures. Instructors place particular emphasis on crosscutting implementation issues, both technological and organizational. Exercises focus on how to make use of spatial data technologies in an environment where data sharing and cooperative agreements are essential components for success. And, reflecting NHI's commitment to learner-centered training, the course offers participants opportunities for discussion and joint problem solving.

Upon completion of the course, participants will be able to:

  • Recognize current and emerging spatial data technologies.
  • Understand the benefits and limitations of each technology.
  • Benchmark the trends in terms of high, medium, and low risk for implementation.
  • Understand why a transportation planner would want to apply each technology.
  • Describe specific examples of applications using spatial data technologies in transportation planning.
  • Identify common obstacles during implementation.
  • Recognize the value of cooperative efforts—both internal and external—when implementing the technologies.

Participants should have a basic understanding of GIS or have completed NHI's course, Applications of GIS for Transportation (#151029). Various professional users of spatial data technologies will benefit most from the course, including individuals representing State departments of transportation, metropolitan planning organizations, county and city governments, transit agencies, airport and port authorities, consultants, and State/Federal agencies that have access to environmental data warehouses (e.g., Florida, North Carolina, and other States).

To learn more, consult the course catalog on NHI's Web site at www.nhi.fhwa.dot.gov. For scheduling, contact Danielle Mathis-Lee at 703-235-0528, danielle.mathis-lee@fhwa.dot.gov. For technical information, contact Mark Sarmiento at 202-366-4828, mark.sarmiento@fhwa.dot.gov. For more information about transportation-related training courses, contact NHI at 4600 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 800, Arlington, VA 22203; 703-235-0500 (phone); or 703-235-0593 (fax).

Rendered model of GPS receivers using timing signals from at least 4 satellites to establish a position

As shown in this rendered model, GPS receivers use timing signals from at least four satellites to establish a position. GPS and other spatial data technologies introduced in the course can help transportation professionals collect and analyze data more efficiently.

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