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Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)

Right-of-Way Scans

GIS in Right of Way Scan, Tallahassee, Florida

July 21-22, 2004

A Right of Way (ROW) scan covering Geographical Information Systems (GIS) was held in Florida in July 2004. The scan, sponsored by FHWA-s headquarters Office of Real Estate Services, was attended by representatives of 12 State DOTs and FHWA staff from both the field and headquarters. Participants explored the development of new GIS tools that allow earlier input of ROW data to aid in project decision-making. A major goal of the scan was to integrate ROW data into environmental streamlining through GIS tools. New technology that allows web-based systems to be developed while incorporating state-of-the-art aerial and 3-D stereo imagery was demonstrated. The peer scan gave participants a chance to share relatively new GIS uses in ROW.


Session 1 - Current Status of GIS in ROW within the FDOT

Right of Way Management System (RWMS) - This is a browser-based system that electronically captures the events and details of the Right of Way valuation, acquisition and management process. Data is stored in a DB2 database that resides on an IBM Mainframe computer. The Mainframe also hosts major portions of the transaction logic for the system. The data stored in this system provides the basis for current management activities and is designed to provide data to an enterprise GIS in the future.

Outdoor Advertising Inventory Management System (ODAIMS) - This is a client/server application created specifically for the regulation of outdoor advertising signs. The application is written in VB6 and utilizes an ORACLE database. The GIS portion of the application utilizes Microsoft-s MapPoint Application to allow for viewing sign locations on a map.

Session 2 - Florida Dept. of Environmental Programs (FDEP) GIS Webserver

Session 3 - Florida-s Efficient Transportation Decision-Making Process and the

Environmental Screening Tool

Florida has developed a new, more efficient process for conducting environmental reviews of transportation projects. The new process is called "Efficient Transportation Decision Making" or the ETDM Process and was developed by FDOT working in conjunction with federal and state agencies. The objectives of the multi-agency working group that developed this process were outlined by Congress in Section 1309 of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21):

A key component of the process is Florida's Environmental Screening Tool, an interactive database and mapping application available on the Internet. The application provides tools to input and update information about transportation projects, perform standardized analyses, gather and report comments about potential project effects, and provide information to the public. The EST brings together information about a project and provides analytical and visualization tools that help synthesize and communicate that information. It is used throughout the ETDM process to:

An interactive application called the "Environmental Screening Tool (EST) allows Agencies to access project planning information and other data about potentially affected communities and natural resources. Agency opinions and requirements are documented in the comment portion of the database. Teamwork has been created among agencies involved in transportation decision-making through Agency Operating Agreements (AOAs). These AOAs between FDOT/FHWA and state and federal agencies document the interagency understandings and contain agency-specific requirements for implementing the ETDM Process. The presentation provided an overview of the process, ongoing efforts with AOAs, as well as an introduction to the EST.

Session 4 - The New Role of GIS in Right of Way Acquisition by the Florida Turnpike Enterprise

This presentation will illustrate the ways that certain capabilities of the Turnpike-s GIS resources have been applied to Right-of-Way processes. It will show the methods that ROW uses to view and query properties of interest and overlay then with many other helpful layers, such as aerial photography, wetlands and land use. It will also demonstrate how our Right-of-Way Database has been integrated with GIS mapping and the Right of Way maps within the application.

Session 5 - Participant Discussion

Session 6 - 3D Demonstration

Session 7 - ROW GIS Applications

This presentation consisted of GIS Applications in ROW Section and how the applications have become part of day-to-day operations. The ROW Section has implemented GIS Applications for managing Indian ROW Applications, Government Land Acquisitions, Property Management and monitoring Water Rights.

The ROW Bureau is expanding its use of GIS functions to include all Bureau functions. The ultimate goal is to create a system that affords users access to a linked and fully integrated database. This will provide a seamless flow of documentation from beginning to end and facilitate a more efficient and economical right of way process.

Session 8 - GIS Support in ROW Acquisition Decision Making

Automated Driveway and Access Management System (ADAM),
During Phase I, methods were examined by which the typical driveway permitting process could be automated and a prototype system baseline design could be developed. Now in Phase II, the prototype system is under construction. The major elements of the prototype system have been completed and are undergoing testing and quality assurance measures. The ADAM system includes a web accessible GIS, electronic permit application tool, and software application for evaluating stereographic aerial imagery. The use of both stereographic 3D and 2D imagery for access management and roadway access permitting and design is an asset for engineers, reviewers, and surveyors.

GIS style data layering capabilities allow users to bring a wide variety of spatial data into a common context to allow for high power graphic presentations and analysis. High-resolution stereographic elevation data allows users to extract digital elevation grids and planimetric data with positional accuracies of 3 inches or less in X, Y, and Z. The combination of these advancements in photogrammetry, GIS, web-based technologies and document management systems is proving to be a highly synergistic toolset that stands to greatly improve access management and transportation related decisions.

Innovative Corridor Location and Right of Way Decision Support System - Environmental Streamlining in Corridor Location/Land Acquisition Decision Support

A Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grant was awarded to HSA Consulting Group, Inc. to focus on core environmental streamlining objectives during the corridor alternatives analysis phase of project development. Incorporating the analysis of natural hazards into a visual and quantitative decision support system was proposed as the research topic for demonstration purposes. The research has shown that incorporating natural hazard assessment into the very earliest stages of corridor concept development and continuing such assessment throughout the planning process most effectively accomplishes environmental streamlining objectives. Additionally, integrating geospatial environmental data libraries, parcel boundary, and right of way management data with high-resolution 3D imagery provides a GIS environment suitable for use by planners as well as for surveyors, designers and right of way specialists. A notional system architecture has been developed for such a right of way decision-support system.

ROW acquisition decisions are real - concrete - When a property is acquired it is the point of no return for a project. The public has been affected, public records changed, and legal documents executed. Perhaps, it is this reality and exactness that has distinguished the needs of ROW GIS systems from typical GIS systems that tend to be properly referenced geospatially for purposes of planning and analysis, but not necessarily for design or right of way decisions. A geospatial transportation software tool is proposed to close the precision and accuracy gap between GIS and ROW professionals.

As stated in the scope of work for this SBIR, "determination of new roadway alignments together with right-of-way needed to support these alignments is a complex multidisciplinary process". This planning process becomes even more challenging when natural hazards such as floods and hurricanes are factored in. The general goal of this phase of the research effort is to develop a foundation on which analytical tools can be developed that are capable of providing the results of various analyses in an easily understandable manner for use by transportation planners, project development engineers, right-of-way and land acquisition specialists.


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John L. Garner, ROW Operations, FDOT

John L. Garner has served in all areas of the Right of Way business for the Florida Department of Transportation and currently has management responsibility for acquisition, relocation assistance, property management, technology application and outdoor advertising regulation.

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Office of Right of Way has been looking at GIS for a number of years. Our experience demonstrated that the work effort to create base maps from CADD Right of Way Maps was far out of proportion to the benefits obtained. Despite automated routines, the process of creating the necessary geo-referenced structures often required 40+ man-hours for a single project. Our Right of Way Managers concluded that the system we were using did not provide significantly greater ability to manage projects when compared to the previously available text lists.

As the need for improved capability in data analysis became greater, FDOT undertook to redesign the basic data maintained for the management of Right of Way projects. The system redevelopment took 2 ½ years and cost $2 ½ million. The resulting system is called the Right of Way Management System (RWMS). It is a browser-based application to reduce hardware requirements and improve upgradeability. The application is housed on a DELL server that features quad processors and RAID Level 5 storage. Data is stored in DB2 database which resides on an IBM mainframe computer along with other databases which the application accesses. The mainframe computer also hosts a translation layer that handles queries from the web server.

While FDOT is in the process of developing an Enterprise GIS application, the first phase of the RWMS does not currently interface with the GIS. The design recognizes that, as the Enterprise GIS matures, inclusion of Right of Way data will desirable, as a result, the system design was developed with an eye toward accessibility. The primary facilitator is the software translation layer that is designed to respond to queries from various sources and integrate data from several different databases.

The system is designed to track all aspects of Right of Way down to the individual interests in the real estate. A fundamental design premise is that data will be entered as events occur by the person closest to the event. Data integrity is improved through the implementation of business rules that control the timing of data entry. The FDOT Enterprise GIS is currently capable of displaying road attribute data and Work Program data. The method employed is to utilize the map as an index to the text data. Query capability is available. Clicking on a highlighted section allows one to view the textual data.

Table showing example of the Enterprise View Results in Text Format
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Example of an Enterprise View of a county in Florida
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Future development of the RWMS and the Enterprise GIS is anticipated to lead to an interface between the two systems at some level. The necessary keys are currently in place to allow the GIS to display textual data from RWMS. Since the current GIS displays data for each project in the Work Program, a probable candidate for early use will be the Right of Way Project status.

As with any system development, there are hurdles to cross. A major hurdle in GIS applications is the development of base maps on which to display data. The FDOT Enterprise GIS currently uses a base map that is digitized at 1:24000. While quite adequate for displaying generalized information, it does not achieve the survey-level accuracy of a Right of Way Map. Consequently, attempting to display data with survey-level accuracy can result in unexpected and misleading conclusions. This is one of several issues that must be dealt with before a true Right of Way GIS is feasible.

When pursuing development and integration of systems, virtually any problem can be solved if cost is not a factor. One issue to resolve is whether the analytical tools provided by a GIS system sufficiently enhance productivity sufficiently to justify the cost. With most of our employees primarily familiar with text-based systems, there is reluctance to allocate scarce resources to developing GIS capabilities. A major challenge facing further development is being able to demonstrate a positive cost-benefit for these types of systems.

One area where the ability to visualize geo-referenced data is very valuable is in our Outdoor Advertising Regulatory Program. In this program, the physical location of billboard structures is critical, since Florida law provides that a permit is valid only for the location for which it is issued. Historically, location has been determined by use of a linear referencing system (milepost and offset). The primary problem with this system is the constant need to expand and improve roadways, resulting in changes in the reference system.

In 1998, the Florida Legislature mandated that a new inventory of all regulated signs in the State be done. As part of this inventory, the FDOT decided to capture latitude and longitude for each sign location so that a permanent reference would be available. In addition, we undertook development of a new computer system to store and manage the data. The result is the Outdoor Advertising Inventory Management System (ODAIMS). The Office portion of the ODAIMS is a Visual Basic client-server application utilizing an ORACLE database. It allows for the complete management of the regulatory aspects of the program including the issuance of new permits, the transfer of permits from one owner to another and the issuance of Notices of Violation. It also allows us to track litigation that is an integral part of the program.

The Field portion of the ODAIMS system is designed to operate on a laptop computer and is a Visual Basic application utilizing an ACCESS database. A major feature of this field system is the ability to directly capture latitude, longitude and sign dimensions through the integration of GPS and Laser Rangefinder instruments.

We are currently in the process of implementing an interface between the ODAIMS and Microsoft MapPoint. The MapPoint software allows us to plot signs by latitude/longitude and utilize the streets and other features included in the software. We selected the MapPoint application because of its low cost, simplicity and the fact that its maps are more accurate than those currently in use in the FDOT Enterprise GIS. We do not need the analytical abilities of a true GIS, but do need the ability to accurately plot sign locations.

Example of MapPoint Interface showing Outdoor Advertising Sign Locations
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Each sign is shown as a "pushpin" on the map with location being determined from the latitude/longitude data in the database. This gives a high-level visual reference for the locations of the individual structures. Although this application is new, it has already shown that it will be a valuable quality control tool. For example, some early plots showed signs that are located in Tallahassee, to be in North Africa. A slight error in latitude/longitude!

As our ability to capture accurate latitude/longitude has improved, the system is allowing us to quickly check field data and make a visual check on location. The most frequent finding is that one or two structures on a section are not where they are supposed to be. This is usually related to field procedures and we are constantly working to improve these to ensure the accuracy of our data.

Example of MapPoint Interface and ODAIMS
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The ODAIMS/MapPoint interface will also serve us in making regulatory decisions. Since the user can plot all or a portion of a roadway section and see the location of sign structures relative to other features, a quick identification of a questionable structure is possible. This will be particularly useful when taking questions from the public about a particular sign.

In summary, the FDOT is very embryonic in its application of GIS to production activities. Serious questions remain as to whether a full GIS implementation can significantly improve performance in the Right of Way production area. At the same time, a useful application of basic GIS capabilities is proving valuable in the area of ensuring consistent locations of outdoor advertising signs for regulatory purposes. Our conclusion is that the usefulness of GIS in Right of Way is somewhat limited and may not be cost effective unless it can leverage resources used in other areas.

Q&A Session following John Garner-s presentation.

  1. How are the latitudes/longitudes (lat/long) for road segments established? They are established at the beginning - in ROW design. Mileposts are used.

  2. How does the ROW Management System (RWMS) relate a project to a geographic reference/GIS link? Our project section number is the geographic link. Florida DOT drives each route every two years. A seven-digit number is assigned that relates to the milepost and a long/lat in the Roadway Characteristic Inventory (RCI).

  3. You showed how the FDOT cost estimate for a project is displayed. Has this system increased the degree of accuracy for project cost estimates? No, every district has its own cost estimate section. FDOT programs the entire amount for the project in the beginning - after first year left over money goes into 'roll forward-. ROW is trying to lower the amount of money in the 'roll forward- account. Project cost estimates now use a worst-case scenario, but FDOT is considering a more realistic estimate. They are in the process of comparing estimates to actual expenditures to improve cost estimating.

  4. Do you have data for the FDOT Acquisition Incentive Offer (Bonus) Pilot Program? This is a pilot for which information is still being gathered. The evaluation as of May 2004 can be found on the FHWA Office of Real Estate Services website under publications, research.

  5. How does FDOT handle data storage? FDOT uses a mainframe computer (type IBM DB2) for all databases. There is a translation layer that farms for the data and sends it back to the web server.

  6. How did you transition to the new system? FDOT took every active project and did a software conversion. It was a 'sudden death changeover- during a three-day weekend. This took place on February 1, 2003 and has been in use for over a year.

  7. Archiving - can you retrieve historical data? Yes.

  8. Did you do this in-house or with a consultant? Was the cost really $2 million?

The management was in-house by FDOT. John Garner was the ROW project manager. The legislature agreed to fund the system because the ROW program in Florida spends a lot of money and FDOT couldn-t give the state legislature the information on the ROW program that it wanted. The legislature appropriated $2.5 million for a RWMS that accumulates data through many data layers and is always current and available to management. Now reports can be developed quickly. (Several participants concurred that their legislatures would like reports faster as well.) John demonstrated the FDOT GIS system - Enterprise View. It uses the ESRI Suite. GIS maps can display the FDOT road projects. The System has 'Drive the Road way- ability that gives a video view of driving down the road. You can focus on and magnify objects (billboards) on the side of the road.

  1. What ties down the points and how many miles of road are video-logged? FDOT uses mileposts to tie down and video-logs 12,000 miles. FDOT uses Microsoft MapPoint Interface for the outdoor advertising (ODA) inventory. FDOT uses a consultant to feed data directly back to the inventory. FDOT does a management check of the data for reliability of points.

  2. Have you found that the base map is a source for errors? This is acceptable accuracy for ODA permits. The GPS and laser range finder aren-t as accurate as the Enterprise system.

  3. Is your GPS location for signs taken as gospel by the ODA industry? Yes, they are accurate to 1 meter. FDOT completed a full inventory of billboards in 1998 and has a GPS location for every sign. The industry relies on their location information and pays for it through their fees.

  4. Do you barcode signs, with condition height and direction? Not yet. FDOT permit tags look like license plates. A user has to go to the database itself for conditions. Our next step is to put the mapping system onto an Internet website.

  5. Did you do control secondary roads? Yes, have to control secondary roads per state law.

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Jonathan Watson, Systems Analyst for Web Mapping System (WMS)

Jonathan Watson is a GIS Systems Analyst for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). His current responsibilities include oversight of the GIS Webservers for FDEP as well as ArcIMS Website development.

The FDEP Bureau of Information Systems (BIS) GIS section works as a guiding and directing partner with other agency personnel to support the geographic information needs in protecting Florida's environment. BIS/GIS provides basemap and agency GIS data; GIS software and hardware solutions; infrastructure and methods for retrieving, viewing, and analyzing GIS data; and GIS education, cooperative data projects and information exchange.

BIS houses GIS data for the entire FDEP. An Oracle database hosts the majority of data and ArcSDE is used to get this map data to the GIS community. The database is about 1 Terabyte in size: 600 gigabytes of raster imagery and 400 gigabytes of vector data. File-based layers are typically used in the field when ArcSDE is not accessible. Vector data describes a point, line, or polygon. To improve performance, many vector layers are generalized (reduced number of features, vertices, and/or attributes).

Raster data contain aerial photography data that is represented by geographic areas called Digital Ortho-Quads. Raster data can be accessed via shapefiles or via the Oracle Raster database. Three layers are available and include data generated in 1994, 1999 and 2002. Imagery housed in Raster database boasts increased performance over file-based counterpart. To create the Raster database and increase performance, 6-9 "pyramids" were made for each layer. A pyramid is a predefined scale in which the Raster data is stored (1:100, 1:500, etc), so in effect, the data is stored 6-9 times over in the database with varying compression levels. JPEG90 compression was used. In 2002 Hi-Resolution 1ft/pixel resolution imagery took 100gigs on a hard disk, now it is160gigs in SDE. 1994 data that took 30gigs on disk now takes 200gigs in SDE. For a Raster data example see this website:

Generalized vector layers and data are available for public use. 3.8 gigabytes of data is available at

GIS Software is used at FDEP -
ESRI-s ArcGIS 3.2 is supported till end of CY2004; ArcGIS 8.3 is currently supported; ArcGIS 9.0 is being introduced. ArcIMS is an ESRI product that runs on a webserver and delivers GIS maps, data, and services. Clients can access the FDEP Web Mapping System applications by using just a web browser. Arc Spatial Database Engine (SDE) is used to store the majority of the DEP-s GIS data in Oracle. DEP Clients statewide use ArcSDE to connect to the Oracle/SDE database server in Tallahassee.

FDEPWMS implementation schedule was as follows -

September 2002: research began on an ArcIMS 3.1 hosting array

June 2003: first generation of FDEPWMS released on ArcIMS v3.1

August 2003: research began on ArcIMS v4.01

March 2004: applications migrated to the current iteration of the FDEPWMS v4.01

FDEPWMS specifications are -

Reverse proxy servers: Intel Pentium 4; 512mb Ram

ArcIMS application/web server: Dell PowerEdge 1650, dual P3 1.2GHz; 2gb Ram

ArcIMS spatial servers: Dell PowerEdge 2600, dual Xenon 2.0GHz; 2gb Ram

The FDEPWMS is available Monday thru Friday, 8:00am to 6:00pm. Servers are rebooted every morning, and all websites are available 1 hour later. File-based layers, Website directories, and ArcIMS map definition files are backed up nightly.

This following describes lessons learned in designing, building and implementing a highly available, fault-tolerant and distributed ArcIMS system. Topics addressed include: using a reverse proxy server for enhanced security; server load balancing; configuring multiple spatial servers, ArcIMS fail-over; and the development of remote access procedures for an in-house development community. The challenge was to build a commercial-grade, centrally managed, web mapping system that would replace existing independent, Internet and intranet map servers.

In September of 2002, we began the exercise to develop the FDEPWMS. Though FDEP had complete responsibility and authority to design the system, our management defined the project-s goals. These objectives framed our vision of the system and continue to drive its current maintenance, administration and development. They are security, redundancy (reliability), and performance.

Lessons Learned

This is an overview of the key points we learned during our challenge to build the FDEPWMS. These suggestions are items that came up more than once in our post-mortem discussion on the FDEPWMS development project, or they are topics that have sprung up in more recent talks as the system has evolved. For the most part, these are lessons that we want to share because we wished we had known them before we started and they have often saved us time and headaches.

Create Separate Systems for Development, Staging and Production
Never ever develop and test on your production system," that statement comes from a slide in one of the ArcIMS Technical Workshop presentations at the ESRI User Conference and we have taken it to heart (Russo, 2002). We initially built the FDEPWMS as the production system and the staging system came later. The staging system has been one of the most important evolutions of our system. It is crucial for our developers and for us as administrators because it allows us to test applications in production conditions without risk. We have made a strident effort to completely replicate the production system-s configuration so our testing is as accurate as possible. The staging system has also been invaluable for testing security patches, OS updates and new ideas for administrative and monitoring tasks. Also, because we stress an ArcIMS development cycle that includes primary development and testing on single, standalone systems, the staging system is the first opportunity to test any issues involving a distributed system. The primary objective, however, is to iron out problems related to the hosting of the site, not to further test functionality.

Use Generalized Layers
Building on knowledge we gained from another ArcIMS research effort in 2001, we highly suggest taking the effort to generalize reference data layers used in ArcIMS websites (Clay, 2001). Though the research pointed out that not all data benefits from generalization, usually improvements in map generation time are realized by reducing the number of features, vertices and/or attributes from the data layer. Generalized layers are not a panacea, however. Other tuning methods exist that help reduce map generation time, such as the efficient use of AXL code for scale-dependencies on layers or when labeling, for performing spatial queries and when choosing the optimal output image type (Russo, 2002).

Each objective and its realization in the system design are detailed in individual sections to follow. The design led us to a scalable, distributed array of five Wintel servers that would mitigate as many risks as possible while still satisfying the performance goal. The System consists of two web/application servers and two spatial servers (map servers) housed securely behind a firewall with only a Linux-based reverse proxy server available for public access in the De-militarized Zone (DMZ). A staging system that mirrors the production system evolved to test applications prior to deployment on the production array. The hardware and software platforms for the FDEPWMS were configured and optimized for their individual role in the system. Platform choices were also proven solutions that met Departmental IT standards ensuring support from our Network and Systems group and familiarity within our GIS development community.

If Applicable, Monitor ArcSDE Connections
ArcSDE connections are a limited resource in our environment. As mentioned before, we have over 350 internal GIS users who consume ArcSDE data in ArcGIS 8x, ARCINFO 7x, ArcView 3x and now through the FDEPWMS, public users consume connections, as well. Our section maintains the Department-s centralized, enterprise spatial database server, which currently runs ArcSDE 8.1.2 and ORACLE Since the FDEPWMS is a distributed system with multiple spatial servers and an increased number of spatial server instances, we have had to test, monitor and plan system changes that cause increases in the use of ArcSDE connections. We developed a formula that helps us predict the number of ArcSDE connections that changes or additions to the system will make.

Manage Remote Development
The FDEPWMS is a hosting environment built to potentially accommodate ArcIMS websites from any group within the FDEP. Though managed by our section, BIS GIS, the system is a shared resource. Therefore, we had to devise a management scheme that would give our developers the freedom they required, while not jeopardizing the integrity of the overall system. The final outcome was to set up user groups and NT shares for the system, create guidelines for access, develop an ArcIMS Development Plan document that helps us estimate resource usage and begin a list serv just for the FDEP ArcIMS development community.

Avoid Large Image Catalogs
We have had to figure out a way to deal with large image catalogs since providing imagery as a backdrop to vector layers or using it as a verification layer is a very popular option for FDEP ArcIMS websites. Catalogs that reference the Department-s collection of 1999 or 1994 Digital Ortho Quarter Quads can have almost 4000 records and are stored on a separate, dedicated server. When working on our single systems, we discovered we had to increase the extended timeout property in the AppServer properties file to successfully start a map service with imagery (Fleming, 2003). We have learned that when a map service is started with large image catalogs such as ours, the spatial server reads the header of every image file listed in the catalog. Due to our distributed system configuration and the additional number of spatial servers we maintain, it can take upwards of an hour and ¾ to refresh our map services.

We do have several raster-based data layers in ArcSDE, such as several scales of Digital Raster Graphics (DRGs) for the state of Florida. We are also trying to obtain the funding for additional storage that would support loading the DOQs in ArcSDE, but that project has a long time horizon. In the near term we are developing tools that will dynamically add file-based raster data to our ArcIMS sites.

Monitor the System
Monitoring becomes increasingly difficult as the system becomes more distributed and complex. We use a combination of tools and procedures to verify that our systems are up and communicating, but we know there is room to improve our efforts in this area. Software and system logs are also key instruments in tracking system health, maintenance activities and in trouble-shooting efforts. Several free tools that help with monitoring ArcIMS systems are available from the ArcScripts portion of ESRI-s website.

Preventative Maintenance is Good Medicine
As the FDEPWMS system has evolved, we have instituted several preventative measures to maximize its availability. We use several scheduled tasks that run batch files to help keep the system running consistently and smoothly. To help prevent memory links and orphan processes, we stop and start the IIS and Jakarta services daily. We also refresh the ArcIMS Application Server, Monitor and Tasker NT services daily on each system because communication to our ArcSDE server is interrupted during database refreshes. We also use ADMINCMD AXL tags to run ArcIMS Administration tasks that essentially refresh and save our ArcIMS Administrator catalogs every morning. Finally, we reboot the system weekly and maintain a system.

Three of our most important improvements will help on the reliability front. First, we have already purchased another reverse proxy server to include in our system and reduce that single point of failure. Next, we are planning on testing IP load balancing to divide and distribute HTTP requests passed from our reverse proxy server to the web/application servers. Also, in the event of a system failure this improvement will help with forwarding all requests to the available server. We plan to use Cisco hardware for this effort and will work with our Systems and Network Group to implement and test its success. Finally, we will look at ArcIMS Application Server load balancing as a means to contribute yet a higher level of availability to the FDEPWMS. ArcIMS Application Server load balancing gives us an extra layer of reliability by transferring the load of a failed or over-burdened ArcIMS Application Server to an available ArcIMS Application server.

In mid 2003, ArcIMS is used in almost a dozen FDEP websites and online applications to provide geographic information to the public and internal staff. Functionality ranges from simple map display and query, to highly, customized sites offering server-side solutions that allow interactive data update and verification tools. The development of web mapping applications and viewers and the conversion of existing GIS tools to a web-based platform has become the major focus of GIS development within the agency. The continued development of the FDEPWMS and the web mapping systems that will follow it are essential if FDEP expects to keep pace with the growth and demand for web-based GIS tools and information displays.

Q&A Session following Jonathan Watson-s presentation

What is the quality of your aerial data? Newest information is the best - 1 foot/pixel resolution for some data, but this is very expensive. Different program areas or agencies need different resolutions. FDEP has 1 meter and 5 meter resolution that meets most program needs.

Do you have ownership of data issues where data was acquired from other agencies or sources?

The Florida agencies share data. It-s important that all parties providing data agree on its use. The public has access to data unless an agency specifically wants it restricted (for security purposes).

How much query ability do you lose?

It-s pretty close to what most GIS users expect. You are limited by how much you invest in coding.

Do you take data from outside sources (entities that you regulate)?

We take what they have and check it against what FDEP has.

How many different people feed data into the system?

The majority of them are consultants. They gather data and we check the data overnight before putting it on the system. The Florida legislature mandated that all data from agencies be integrated -IMS.

How freely do you give info?

Data is shared freely.

Does FL have a GIS regulating agency?

It has been disbanded. There is not an ongoing effort to regulate. FDEP tries to organize the data. Agencies do not gather data the same way - they hire consultants who gather data with different instructions and expectations.

How can you tell what data sets are the best or most accurate?

It's a problem. Ask Larry Barfield, FDOT, who has a presentation this afternoon.

Ohio noted that sharing of county appraiser information is an issue. The Florida Bureau of State Lands is capturing deeds for all parcels on line using a mapping interface.

Reverse proxy server - location?

Servers are internal to FDEP. It-s the security for the system. The ARC-IMS servers are internal to FDEP. The Linux servers are open to the public. The Florida Resource Environmental Analysis Center (FREAC) supplies data for counties, some at the1ft. level.

The Idaho DOT volunteered that it has looked at systems and hired a private consultant (Intergraph) to host the site to prevent security problems.

Janet Myers, FHWA Headquarters Office of Real Estate Services

How does your agency answer the question "What can GIS do for me - that I don-t already have the capability to do?"

Florida Turnpike-s answer - the people who are collecting the data are using it in report form. They can see and make better decisions with a GIS/visual answer to the questions they ask

Has anyone had to sell a GIS based project to management?

Ohio DOT-s answer - the State Historic Preservation Officer-s data was on index cards. We were able to convert the data and can see GIS/digital data so we make fewer trips to view sites. We also converted and mapped Department of Natural Resource (DNR) data to avoid or mitigate on road projects. GIS allows you to integrate data better, though there are accuracy issues. Pavement issues are better presented and understood by the legislature with a GIS visual presentation. Ohio started using GIS 20 years ago and originally used it to display crashes and crash data. The current Ohio director understands what GIS can do for the Ohio DOT.

FHWA, Mel Cooper from South Carolina - GIS has helped environmental streamlining efforts in SC.

Ohio DOT- this scan is a very good way to bring attention to how GIS can be used by ROW.

New Mexico DOT-s Division director has asked for data that could only be presented by GIS. They were able to map all DOT water rights in 4 weeks and provide answers to decision-makers. Gov. Richardson wanted information on road projects, how much money would be spent on projects, how many jobs for consultants, etc. The information was mapped and presented. That sold the Division director on GIS.

Ohio DOT - there should be a standard policy for GIS. The FHWA should assure that DOT right of way interests are represented when GIS standards are determined.

Janet Myers - research to date shows that states are concerned about GIS standards and want to make sure the transportation layer is represented. The layer should include ownership information, etc.

Gay Smith of HSA - the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) creates standards for metadata. The Florida DOT followed those standards when developing the project development tool called ETDM.

Maine DOT - is looking to acquire a database to incorporate GIS. Is trying to determine what level of detail do users need?

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Larry Barfield, FDOT Environmental Management Office
Peter McGilvray, FDOT Technical Resources Manager

Peter McGilvray supervises the Environmental Management Office and is the Technical Project Manager for the Environmental Screening Tool, a web based GIS application designed to facilitate Florida-s Efficient Transportation Decision Making Process. He also serves as Project Manager for the Florida Geographic Data Library, a digital inventory of Florida GIS data assets.

Larry Barfield is the Administrator, Environmental Management Office, Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). Mr. Barfield currently has responsibility managing the Environmental Process Compliance Section that includes natural environmental issues. The Section-s primary responsibilities involve developing and maintaining procedures to insure compliance with NEPA and all applicable Federal and State laws.

ETDM is a new integrated approach to transportation planning, project development and delivery in Florida. It is a collaborative process involving the FDOT, resource agencies, MPOs, and the public. There is a commitment to this process at the highest Department levels. The ETDM process and principles have been incorporated into formalized agreements. It requires participating agencies to embrace (or at least accept) the concept that we are all in a partnership with a common goal. The goal is to produce good transportation projects that address the mobility needs of Florida residents, visitors and businesses. Simultaneously, we desire to protect the valuable environmental resources that make Florida the unique place that it is.

We want to do this in a timely manner. ETDM seeks to correct concerns with the traditional method of review and input by agencies. We reviewed the mechanics of the process, the players, and roles. We looked at logical entry points; developed environmental screening tools and expected benefits.

First, there were concerns with the traditional planning approach:

  1. Environmental considerations were not linked to project planning up-front.
  2. Substantial time and resources were being spent producing environmental documents; but this was not necessarily correlated to producing projects the public perceives as "better" in the end for their community.
  3. Projects were not considered in an environmental context. There was little or no input from resource agencies on potential impacts of the project on the natural or human environment.
  4. There was little or no recognition of the potential costs of actually building the project in the affected environment. This included cost to the resource, cost to mitigate or cost to community.

Secondly, there were concerns with traditional scheduling:

  1. Sequential actions.
  2. Long time lines with gaps.
  3. Late agency involvement.
  4. Risk of late project changes. Late changes are difficult and costly.

Goals of the ETDM Process:

  1. Introduce identification and consideration of potential environmental and sociocultural effects of major capacity improvements into the planning process.
  2. Study projects more efficiently.
  3. Build on input at each stage. This way FDOT doesn-t continue to invest time and money if the project is fatally flawed. And the FDOT won-t continue to address an item if it is not an issue.
  4. Obtain permits earlier.

How is the ETDM process accomplished?

  1. Early, continuous and interactive involvement of resource agencies, the public, MPO's FDOT and FHWA from the planning phase through NEPA approval and permitting.
  2. Implementation of Planning and Programming "Screens."
  3. Good documentation throughout the project life; a project "diary" that stays with project.
  4. Use of the Florida Geographic Data Library (FGDL) and GIS based Environmental Screening Tool to enhance analyses of impacts and to record results and decisions made at every phase.

Who are key players and what are their roles?

  1. The Environmental Technical Advisory Team. Each FDOT District has an ETAT. It is comprised of a representative from 23 resource agencies. The ETAT member must be able to speak for the agency responsible for interaction with FDOT. The role shifts from the planning phase through permit approval phase.
  2. ETDM Coordinators coordinate activities of the ETDM process:
    • Initiate project screens,
    • Notify ETAT of review readiness,
    • Monitor timeliness,
    • Prepare summary reports,
    • Coordinate dispute resolution
  3. Community Liaison Coordinators (CLCs):
    • Prepare sociocultural effects inventory,
    • Review GIS analysis results,
    • Respond to public comments,
    • Assist with summary reports.

The Florida Geographic Data Library (FGDL) is the ETDM Foundation. Project development concepts and scope of improvement has been developed. It allows focused technical studies. At the end of the process the basis for a permit is agreed to in advance. Some preliminary engineering has been moved into the project development phase.

The Project Development Summary Report summarizes all activities in the project development phase. It serves as documentation for CEs. Permits and conditions are included.

Benefits include:

  1. More informed public, agencies and personnel
  2. Effective and timely decision making without compromising the Environment
  3. Ready identification of avoidance and mitigation options
  4. Sociocultural effects balanced with the natural environment
  5. Attention is focused on key technical issues
  6. Agencies and the affected community have ready access to quality data and feedback online
  7. Review and permitting processes are integrated
  8. FDOT can get early NEPA review and approval

Lessons Learned in the ETDM Process

  1. Agency participation was ensured by getting commitment at a "Summit"
  2. FDOT clearly stated they are "throwing out the book"
  3. Keep Agency participation throughout
  4. Everyone kept focused on "What's Right for Florida"
  5. The Website enhanced access to information
  6. "Team" and "Teamwork" were emphasized (e.g., ETAT)
  7. Regularly scheduled meetings and workshops maintained momentum
  8. Task Work Group tackled specific issues
  9. Used "white papers" to effectively to move the process
  10. Design for change, use a flexible database
  11. Develop incrementally
  12. Frequent feedback
  13. Keep it simple
  14. Obtain clear guidance before making changes
  15. Develop trust based on mutual benefit
  16. Need multiple agency contacts
  17. Coordinate agreements with highest level person and include legal review from the beginning
  18. Mutually develop agreements and communicate via e-mail and conference calls frequently
  19. The hierarchy of agencies will affect the schedule (Military: COE, USCG)
  20. Identify historical or reoccurring issues and address in agreements
  21. Identify Agencies current and future workload if needed for funding purposes
  22. Must be in constant communication with Agencies - once engaged, stay engaged

ETDM process status as of July 14, 2004:

  1. 140 projects have gone through ETAT Review
  2. 700 participants
  3. 250+ persons trained in ETDM project input
  4. 300+ ETAT reviewers trained
  5. Preparation for 2005 Work Program
  6. Planning Screen event completed in May 2004
  7. Programming Screen event is underway
  8. Now loading 65 projects from the FIHS cost feasible plan for Planning Screening
  9. Now loading new projects from the amended MPO Long Range Transportation Plans

There is public access through this site:

Q&A Session following the Florida ETDM presentation

How do you deal with agencies not commenting at the planning stage?

Agencies often comment that there is not enough information at the planning stage. FDOT then knows what studies need to be done and what data is needed.

What is the difference in time between the Programming and Planning screens?

The Programming screen often takes 1 to 2 years to get to that stage of project development. FDOT has a better idea of issues and finds comments received are more focused at the programming phase.

How can the public pull out information?

About 15 different ways - depending on what they already know and what they want.

How do you get data sets from other agencies?

Agencies give the FDOT data sets - through Florida Geographic Data Library (FGDL) managed by University of Florida. The FDOT converts the data and gives it back to agencies. These agencies have an incentive for current and accurate information as their data is viewed by other agencies and the public on the website. Also, there are agreements between FDOT and each agency.

How are agencies notified when a new project goes into the system, has GIS analysis, and is ready for review?

ETDM coordinators go into the system and pull up (query) which projects need their comment/review. The system classifies what the project status is (edit, review, etc) and lists status.

Can public see comments?

Yes, at the end of the review. The public cannot see archeological or endangered species sites or other sites/issues classified as protected, called an "exception."

What access do consultants have to the system?

ETDM coordinators are responsible for access. A consultant would go through the coordinator for the agency.

Who has the authority to red flag a project?

Each agency has this ability through their ETDM coordinator.

What preliminary engineering items have moved ahead in the process?

Some permits.

Is it too early in Planning screen to show design?


Comment from Pete McGilvary: the ETDM screens identify 22 issues for review and comment. Issues represent technical studies that are done for the environment document.

Can you review GIS analysis in the editing mode?


Did you use consultants to develop the ETDM Tool in house?

FDOT used both consultants and in-house staff.

Property Appraiser shape files are used - but are you going to link the website to property appraiser data?

No, it-s the same process used with other resource agencies - we get data twice a year and convert through FDGL. We get the information they share - not necessarily assessed value, etc., for all 67 counties.

Are Tribes a part of the process?

Yes. Florida has five federally recognized Tribes.

What happens when there are engineering problems, unstable ground or what ever?

If the corridor is adjusted or changed then the project goes back to the Programming screen and we get comments from agencies based on the new corridor. We expect to see benefits from ETDM in that FDOT will be getting permits earlier for ROW, otherwise it can (and currently does) negatively impact ROW time.

Who are the Community Liaison Coordinators for public involvement?

There is a FDOT representative and a MPO representative.

How will you measure success and when?

We are working on that right now.

Will you have it within five years?

Yes. We will be using performance measures on everyone-s part especially when resource agency positions are funded by FDOT/FHWA.

How do you see Environmental Justice (EJ) issues?

FDOT does the community impact assessment and coordinates comments through community coordinators. For information on socio-cultural evaluations please look at the see website information.

Do have any suggestions for a state that doesn-t have access to funding for this kind of system?

The Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) has standards but also collects info throughout nation. It-s a start - look at whether there are more data sets out there that are available to tap into in your state.

How would a state go about getting this system up? Should they go through higher ups and show them what a system like this can do?


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Kathleen Joest, FTE ROW Manager
Daniel Teaf, FTE Program Manager for Spatial Data Analysis

Kathleen Joest has been the Right of Way Manager for the FTE for two years. She has worked for the Department of Transportation, in various right-of-way capacities, for twenty-two years. She holds Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (Real Estate) from the University of Florida.

Daniel Teaf is the Program Manager of the Spatial Data Analysis Section for the FTE. He is responsible for the development, integration and maintenance of the Turnpike-s statewide GIS database as well as map production, application development and intranet mapping applications.

The mission of the Florida Enterprise Turnpike (FTE) is to help meet the State-s growing transportation needs, ensuring value to customers, protecting investors and managing the Turnpike System in a business-like manner. It is the largest toll system in Florida. FTE is part of FDOT - not a separate authority. It is a system of toll roads - not separate facilities. It is user-financed: does not rely on gas taxes. They operate in 14 of 67 counties, serving over half the State-s population, 1.5 million customers daily. They have a statewide program with a small in-house staff. They require fast turn around and needed an electronic solution.

The FTE has 5 permanent FDOT employees. All the rest are contract employees. They spend $150 Million to but 500 parcels a year. The Florida legislature passed legislation allowing them to bypass many rules and procedures FDOT must follow. They do not use gas tax. If they use Federal money to build the Sun Coast 2 Turnpike, they will follow Federal rules.

FTE uses Property Appraiser data sets from 16 counties. FTE contacts the Property Appraiser; receive the data set and process; inserts the data set into the Geodatabase; completes the Metadata; and updates data annually.

They use the electronic system to track key activities and generate standard reports. It has streamlined ROW production and is user friendly. They use simple data entry compatible with the FDOT RWMS. It is accessible to all team members, enabling them to work with fewer resources. They have reduced research and response time. They have accurate information when they prepare for negotiation.

Database components are:
Active Project List; Cost Estimates; Contract Summaries; Parcel Information; Litigation Status; Market Research Data; and Special Studies

Database information includes:
Parcel Schedule; Ownership; Location; Assigned Appraiser; Review Appraiser; and Approved Compensation

Electronic appraisal reports are available online:
Full text; Charts; Graphics; and Photos

Advantages of the database are:

Example of a ROW map that is submitted to the FTE
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Q&A Session following the Florida Turnpike Enterprise presentation

How often do they update county information and aerial data?

Some data are 5 years old, but are trying to keep age to 2 year maximum. Older photos are from rural areas - where not as much is changing.

What type of market research is available? Multiple Listing Service?

Not sure we get that information.

Important note: What software is used to create ROW maps?

Microstation. If you set it up right, using the correct GIS lat/long as the base coordinate in Microstation, you can create the GPS that FTE uses. The electronic ROW map that is produced is geographically accurate. If not set up at the beginning it is a painful process to establish and recomputed. Two months ago they discovered that when the correct coordinates are used, the project number will relate mapping and ROW data together.

What phase are you in at the time that you can see a parcel layer with ROW lines?

In the Design phase when ROW Maps become available.

How do you justify the cost of the system?

This system allows the FTE to respond to a legislator, or any one else, to explain costs, and how and what resources are being impacted.

Are you complying with the Uniform Act?

For projects that are not Federal-aid the FTE looks for ways to speed up procedures, however, there are state rules that require them to follow Federal laws. The FTE uses the Florida DOT Acquisition Incentive Offers technique on non-Federal aid projects.

What are you doing about map revisions?

We go back and re-enter new maps into the system. ROW Maps and Design are being done by same entity. This makes it quicker and blame cannot be put on ROW Maps from Design and vice versa.

What is the accuracy of the maps?

Can you tell the distance to improvements using this system? There are some limitations so FTE has a disclaimer on their website about accuracy. They are requiring ROW Maps to show improvements and how far improvements are from the ROW.

Can you shade areas to show what has been acquired and what has not been acquired yet?

They are not able to do that yet.

What is the process for converting ROW maps for the system?

Currently FDOT users have to manipulate the data coming in and pick the layer of data that is needed. They plan to revise the contract next time to ask for certain layers of data.

Do you have CAD standards that would specify how data is sent over?

Yes, but these have not been consistently enforced and so data does not always meet standards. The Florida Turnpike Enterprise (FTE) has more freedom in selecting consultants (Design and ROW Maps together) and has been successful in demanding more from consultants. The consultants know they may not be hired by FTE again.

Where does county data come from?

Counties send data. The county-s appraiser data is usually electronic.

That must be unusual?

In other states the counties use paper data stored in file cabinets... Florida county appraisers are aggressive and there is a state law that requires them to keep the information and provide it electronically.

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Dick Henry, FHWA Ohio Division

While Technology is about saving time and money, Dick hopes there will always time to talk to people. What does FHWA see as their role in developing ROW GIS system? Technology and data have to be developed at a state level in order to be useful and be used. FHWA can assist with funds for development and can facilitate knowledge sharing, as is happening in this Scan. The state is the user of the system, not FHWA.

Can you change or update coordinate systems on the CAD maps?

It is VERY difficult to do if not part of the original set-up.

How many UTM (Universal Transverse Mercadure) zones does Florida have?

Florida has two with unique problems because of the shape of the state.

One of the critical areas for the ROW GIS is county appraisal data. One participant suggests FHWA encourage all county appraisers to put data into electronic form to speed up the ROW GIS process for other states.

Comments on dealing with people who have the information and how to approach them? Daniel Teaf (FTE) asks what the county appraiser could use (data) in return for data.

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Joel Hearne and Leigh Berryman, SimWright

This was a hands-on 3-D demonstration of aerial photogrammetric technology matched with GIS applications for a driveway permit system (ADAM).

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Art J. Gurule, Computer Software Engineer, IT Section NM DOT

Art J. Gurulé served as the ROW Lead Agent for the New Mexico Department of Transportation for several years. He also serves on the Technical Committee for the Right of Way Section whose function is to provide computer network and application support addressing concerns pertaining to computer issues and also develop and implement procedures to systemize and organize the Right of Way Section GIS Database.

This portion of the report pertaining to the New Mexico DOT is an excerpt from the July 2004 draft final report on Geographic Information System Implementation of State Department of Transportation Right-of-Way Programs, prepared by the Institute for Transportation at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland. Mr. Gurule-s power point file is called Florida Master1.ppt. [1]

Right of way activities at the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) are mostly housed in the Right of Way Bureau. GIS implementation of right of way programs in NMDOT started as a pilot project around 1989, which was difficult to coordinate because of the lack of dedicated technical resource. The ArcView® platform, acquired in the later part of 2001, is being used by Right of Way Bureau for implementing GIS projects.

Right of Way Areas involving GIS Application

The Bureau currently has very experienced technical personnel that have gathered a lot of data over the years to support the GIS program. Current GIS applications in right of way involve: Property/Asset Management (including Airspace Leasing, Excess Land Inventory, Excess Land Disposition), and Land and Water Rights Acquisition.

Property/Asset Management: The Property Management Unit has taken the lead in implementing GIS in its everyday tasks, within the Right of Way Bureau. The first major undertaking was the entering of all non-right of way (NRW) parcels into ArcGIS®. NRW parcels are excess land parcels purchased as part of a construction project but not needed for right of way purposes. There are approximately 300 NRW parcels in the inventory that are located throughout the State that were purchased for about 12 million dollars. Entering the NRW parcels- information into the GIS took approximately a year because of the detailed nature of the information and the lack of resources. Prior to the implementation of GIS, spreadsheet or access database was used to prepare reports that included list of all the NRW parcels with their respective size and market value information. With the use of GIS, the scope of the report has been expanded to include an aerial photo with the parcel overlaid to show its relationship to major roadways, accesses, topography and other attributes to determine marketable properties in the NRW inventory. Entering the parcels into ArcGIS® format, albeit a long and tedious initiative, has simplified the process of storing, retrieving, displaying and producing parcel maps and information.

Excess Land Disposition: The State of New Mexico passed a new law at the 2004 Legislative Session that allows NMDOT to sell excess properties on the open market. Although new procedures for selling the excess properties will have to be established, the use of GIS has streamlined the process of identifying the excess properties. There are ongoing plans to scan and hotlink/hyperlink deeds, contracts, or other pertinent documents to the parcels in GIS database for quick display of information.

Miscellaneous Applications (Road Exchanges/Research): Large volume of requests for information on NMDOT owned properties, other private properties ownership, property abandonment, sale, lease, encroachments, preparation of quitclaim deeds for road exchanges with municipalities, etc are received by the Right of Way Bureau. The requests received covered 10,000 miles of roadways in a 400 square mile area of the State of New Mexico. Using GIS, the Property Management Unit handles the aforementioned large volume of request for information with a staff of four. Efforts are also being made to enter every request received in GIS to produce maps visualizing the nature of the request, and to facilitate data archiving for research and related activities, including presentations and preparation of reports.

The Right of Way Specialty Units (Indian Agent and Water Rights Agent) have taken a full advantage of the use of GIS in implementing projects in parallel with that of the Property Management Unit, including presentation of data for negotiation with the Indian Community and Water Rights inventories.

Advantages and Disadvantages inherent in GIS Application

The major advantages inherent in the Right of Way Bureau-s, more specifically the Property Management Units-, application of GIS are easy access to both visual and text data of NMDOT owned properties, resulting in minimum use of hardcopy data and operating cost. The disadvantage is the large amount of time and resources involved in learning GIS and developing GIS-support data.

Future Area of GIS Application

Future plan will be to leverage GIS technology in implementing every functional area the Right of Way Bureau is involved in.

Internal and External Factors Impeding GIS Application

The main problem affecting the GIS program has been inadequate resources, including funds and personnel. Consequently, there are not any specific GIS positions, classification or Units within the State Government, and GIS continues to be a small part of the overall IT budget. Also, the Right of Way Bureau, by keeping up with policy changes and new programs, lags behind in keeping pace with new developments in GIS technology.

Additional Resources to Fully Leverage GIS Technology

From the experience gained by the Right of Way Bureau in initiating the use of GIS, there is the urgent need to establish a GIS Section within the NMDOT that will be charged with GIS implementation of right of way programs. The Section should have enough personnel to effectively support the GIS implementation needs in the individual units of NMDOT, including the Right of Way Bureau. The GIS Section, with the assistance of FHWA, will also keep pace with the changing technology and massive amount of new data requirement to support future right of way and other programs of NMDOT.

Q&A Session following Art Gurule-s presentation

How good is ARCGIS web-based training?

It-s good -he recommends using it.

Have you used GIS data in condemnation cases?

Yes, review appraisers have used it for trials. It is good for visuals in court, but can-t be used for survey level accuracy.

Did you ever have to support cost savings?

Yes. Don-t have to request as much for consultants as we used to. There is a huge cost savings in reduced amount of travel to check out parcels.

Do you have security issues with sensitive data, such as water sites?

Not really. This should be up to your DOT to decide.

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Gay Smith, CEO, HSA Consulting Group, Florida
Joel Hearne, SimWright, Inc., Florida

Gay Hamilton Smith is CEO of the HSA Consulting Group, Inc. HSA is a transportation and land use planning firm providing services to cities, counties, the Florida Department of Transportation and federal agencies. These services include transportation planning, traffic engineering, GIS mapping and photogrammetric services and development of transportation software applications.

Joel Hearne is a GIS Programmer for SimWright, Inc., a photogrammetry and GIS consulting firm. Joel has built several web-based GIS systems for local governments, federal research grants, and other consulting firms. A recent project involved designing, developing, and implementing a volumetric, demographic, and environmental analysis model for a new airport in San Diego.

Automated Driveway and Access Management System (ADAM) - Joel Hearne

Driveway access is among the most difficult roadway features to plan since it involves the issue of balancing a property owner's right to reasonable access with the public good that comes from efficient well-managed traffic flow. The FHWA Office of Real Estate Services looked at processes for permitting driveways and acknowledged the need for new technologies to improve the driveway permitting and planning process. A Small Business Innovative Research Grant was awarded to SimWright, Inc. and HSA Consulting Group, Inc. to develop innovative tools to automate the driveway access permitting process.
Many of the reasons for developing an automated permit application submission and review toolset are obvious; reduction of hardcopy documents, rapid application submission and reviewer response, improved tracking, and resource consolidation. The less obvious benefits include features such as virtual site visits, customized spatial analyses, and the ability to view stereographic aerial photography over the web.

During Phase I, methods were examined by which the typical driveway permitting process could be automated and a prototype system baseline design could be developed. Now in Phase II, the prototype system is under construction. I am presenting the results of several years of research and development aimed at developing a web-based e-permitting system built upon a foundation of geo-spatial awareness. GIS and photogrammetry are integrated. Our prototype implementation includes tools for improving access management decision-making and asset management.

Phase II research and development work focused specifically on building an electronic permitting system that integrates web-based GIS and Stereographic Photogrammetry (3D aerial-photography that can measure horizontal and vertical dimensions). E-permitting and Internet cartography are exciting, but there are no (I haven't seen any) web-based stereo imagery solutions. Development of a web-based stereo imagery viewer was a large part of the effort. The API libraries born from this effort are already proving valuable in SimWright-s StereoGIS and SPIDAR systems. Eventually these "code libraries" will find a place in HAS-s TransView line of products. Inventive applications of Web Mapping Servers (WMS) evolved along the way. These include: Perl/MySQL/VML/SVG integration with the ESRI ArcIMS internet mapping system, integration of stereo-photogrammetry with ArcIMS, and integration of the ROW permit application process with ArcIMS. All of this has been pulled together into a prototype driveway permitting system that we call the "Automated Driveway and Access Management (ADAM) System.

Components of ADAM include

ADAM demonstrates how GIS acts as an information vertex for a variety of outside databases, geo-spatial data warehouses, and other information sources. ADAM integrated property data with transportation data to give a synergistic effect.

ADAM incorporates traditional Internet forms, but also offers a GIS interface that can be used to enter information. For example, a user can click on a property on the map and a block of associated information gets added to the form (things like address, city, zip, land-use). In addition, information can be added to a form via an online GIS interface. For example several pieces of data are contained in a property record (owner name, address, zip... site address, city, etc.). By simply helping a user locate and identify the property on the map all of this information can be added to permit application for automatically. From here GIS proximity analyses can be used to locate additional features on the map that are useful for completing or analyzing an application.


The major elements of the prototype system have been completed and are undergoing testing and quality assurance measures. Currently the ADAM system includes web accessible GIS, an electronic permit application tool, and a software application for evaluating stereographic aerial imagery. The use of both stereographic 3D and 2D imagery for access management and roadway access permitting and design has proven to be an asset for engineers, reviewers, and surveyors.

GIS style data layering capabilities allow users to bring a wide variety of spatial data into a common context to allow for high power graphic presentations and analysis. High-resolution stereographic elevation data allows users to extract digital elevation grids and planimetric data with positional accuracies of 3 inches or less in X, Y, and Z. The combination of these advancements in photogrammetry, GIS, web-based technologies and document management systems is proving to be a highly synergistic toolset that stands to greatly improve access management and transportation related decisions.

Innovative Corridor Location and Right of Way Decision Support System - Gay Smith

ROW acquisition decisions are real, when a property is acquired it is the point of no return for a project. The public has been affected, public records changed, and legal documents executed. Perhaps, it is this reality and exactness that has distinguished the needs of ROW GIS systems from typical GIS systems that tend to be properly referenced geospatially for purposes of planning and analysis, but not necessarily for design or right of way decisions. A geospatial transportation software tool is proposed to close the precision and accuracy gap between GIS and ROW professionals.

As stated in the scope of work for this SBIR, "determination of new roadway alignments together with right-of-way needed to support these alignments is a complex multidisciplinary process." This planning process becomes even more challenging when natural hazards such as floods and hurricanes are factored in.

Example of a roadway analysis slide.
enlarge image

The general goal of this phase of the research effort was to develop a foundation on which analytical tools could be developed that are capable of providing the results of various analyses in an easily understandable manner for use by transportation planners, project development engineers, right-of-way and land acquisition specialists. We attempted to identify innovative methods for corridor assessment to support project development from early planning stage to final alignment and ROW acquisition.

Q&A Session following the HSA and SimWright presentations

On ADAM system, we are looking at getting an automatic permitting system. Does your system automatically update the driveway permit map?

Does it overlay the new driveway request (engineering drawings) onto the GIS map?

Our system will do this if engineering drawings are submitted with correct coordinates.

Can you see the 3D view of the proposed driveway?

Yes, we can do this but it is not fully developed yet.

Comments on the problems with databases needed to link/overlay the data. Have you solved the problem? Solved for this application (ADAM and driveway permits).

What is the resolution (looking at TransView in use by FDOT District 3)?

The Transview uses 3" resolution. This resolution was determined by the engineers and planners that need and use this information.

What is the cost?

Routes are routinely flown by FDOT. FDOT started acquiring this data in early 2000. The aerials are used by many units, not just for driveway permits.

Have you found that there is any state that has universal tax ID or parcel numbers for all counties?

No...but the District of Columbia does have this information.

GIS Scan Wrap-up

The District of Columbia (Washington DC) would like to see more examples of management of ROW aspects, for example, managing signs, utilities, and sidewalk cafes. The District collects fees for all uses of ROW and could use a good inventory system.

Janet Myers - what would you like to see the FHWA Office of Real Estate Services do in the GIS area?

  1. More communication in conjunction with AASHTO and TRB.
  2. Encourage GIS systems to be more user friendly from a ROW standpoint, such as point and click. Make it unnecessary to know which data layer is being used.
  3. Suggest this be considered as a theme for next year-s AASHTO/FHWA ROW meeting in Austin, TX (2005). Or have a technology theme.

Janet Myers - how can we improve ROW scans (feedback)?

  1. Participants were complimentary of the GIS theme, the logistics and the organization of the GIS scan.
  2. Participants suggest they be queried ahead of time to find out their interests and needs.

[1] Saka, A., Dr., "Geographic Information System Implementation of State Department of Transportation Right-of-Way Functional Areas," Draft Final Report dated July 2004, FHWA Office of Real Estate Services.

Updated: 10/20/2015
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