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Department Director:
Kirk Brethauer
(412) 391-5590 x347

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Two Chatham Center Suite 500
112 Washington Place
Pittsburgh, PA 15219rections
(412) 391-5590 (P)
(412) 391-9160 (F)
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spctiptracker.org

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Data Services: Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

[ SPC's Unified GIS ] [ Regional GIS Assessment ] [ Recent GIS Activities ]

GIS is an analytical tool that allows an operator to view map layers on a computer screen while accessing databases of the map features. By viewing the map layers simultaneously, one can analyze relationships within and between the different layers.

Layers Graphic

GIS integrates data from different sources in a multitude of formats to represent any area within the region. Scenarios can be created to represent changes in the landscape, infrastructure, and populations.

GIS is used in-house by the SPC for a multitude of activities within the various departments. SPC also provides GIS data to its planning partners, transportation agencies, transit operators, consulting firms, businesses, environmental agencies, and various offices of federal, state, county, and municipal government. With over 60 map layers, SPC has one of the largest collections of comprehensive GIS data for the 10-county region.

SPC's Unified GIS

In 2002, SPC launched a collaborative effort to upgrade GIS data and operations across the region. Not only does this Unified GIS aid in establishing a single, regional data set representing the geography, topography, and land use for the entire ten-county region, it also establishes a working relationship with the region's GIS users. This cooperative process involves SPC's GIS staff and activities collaborating with local governments and planning partners to develop the following:

  • Technical and interoperability standards
  • Consistent information categories
  • Protocols for data development
  • Data exchange agreements

SPC is expanding their relationships with GIS users in the region, both public and private, to address issues, share data, and participate on region-wide activities to simplify the development and availability of accurate GIS data.

For a more detailed assessment of recent GIS-related activities, please soo our Recent Activities page.

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Regional GIS Assessment

As a first step in implementing the Unified GIS, SPC, with assistance from staff at the Geospatial Technology Program within Pennsylvania State University's College of Agricultural Sciences, completed a brief Regional GIS Assessment for the 10-county region. SPC met with staff at the planning, assessment, 911, and other departments at each county and at the City of Pittsburgh and conducted short interviews concerning the status of existing or planned GIS activities. The report gives a general assessment of county GIS programs and presents recommendations toward a long-term strategy for the counties. For a copy of the report, click SPC GIS Assessment Report Summer 2003 (PDF--large file, 2.86M).

For a more detailed assessment of recent GIS-related activities, please see our Activities section below. You can also visit the Recent Activities page for the Data Services Department in general here.

For additional information on GIS activities at SPC, please call Kirk Brethauer at (412) 391-5590 x 347 or e-mail kbrethauer@spctiptracker.org.

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2013 GIS Activities

Data and applications developed and maintained by the Information Systems staff are utilized by various SPC departments to advance projects and support programs at regional and local levels.

SPC developed software tools to aid with linking transportation planning with the National Environmental Policy Act (LPN) and to assist project sponsors in evaluating potential Transportation Improvement Plan projects. Geographic Information System (GIS) staff identified data layers and pertinent attributes to aid planners in evaluating candidate projects that support the policies of SPC’s long range transportation plan and mapped the locations of candidate projects throughout the region. The project locations were merged with other spatial transportation, environmental and demographic data into a web-based map application where project sponsors and planning partners compiled the required data for project evaluation. GIS staff continues to refine the data and assist in compiling additional mapping for consideration by planning partners and the public.

Aerial Image of Parkway WestSPC enhanced online mapping applications to provide regional spatial data via the web at locations around the region. Through the use of an ArcGIS Flexviewer application, data representing Census 2010 urbanized areas and urban clusters were compiled for the region and combined with standard base maps and aerial imagery. The application was used by SPC staff in meetings with county planners and PennDOT District staff in developing the 2010 Adjusted Urban areas for the region and in evaluating functional classifications on roadways. The application showcased current adjusted urbanized areas for the region along with areas designated by county planners where future development is expected to take place. After incorporating additional data to allow planning partners to review individual street and road segments against aerial imagery, final adjusted urbanized areas and functional classification changes were determined and recommended for adoption by the Commission. By replacing a series of paper maps with a web-based system, planning partners were able to view the entire region as well as focus on individual neighborhoods in order to ensure similar criteria were applied across the region. The online tools also aided in completing the project promptly with immediate partner review as areas were designated.

GIS data and applications were used to integrate multiple types of data to support a transit oriented development study for the Lower Monongahela Valley in Allegheny County. After participant communities were identified for the study, 2010 Census data at all levels of geography were compiled on the latest population characteristics. With a particular focus on populations most likely to use and benefit from transit service, statistics were generated by block group for data representing the percentage of households below the poverty line, the percentage of persons with no access to a vehicle and the percentage of population that is over 65 years of age. Areas of similar statistics were examined and priority focus areas in the communities were identified. When this data was combined with data representing transit routes and stops, employment locations, existing residential areas and service facilities such as hospitals, both transportation linkages and disconnects were identified. The spatial intersection of these varied data layers and the resultant mapping helped planners and the public to see the relation of existing developments and direct their focus to the areas with the greatest potential.

Signal Corridor, Kittanning, Armstrong CountyFor the past several years, PennDOT has provided SPC access to recent and detailed data from their Crash Data Analysis Retrieval Tool (CDART). This data plays a key role in prioritizing transportation investments and developing strategies within the Traffic Signal, Transportation Improvement, and Congestion Management programs and for road safety audits across the region. In 2013, staff utilized CDART to query, select, compile and analyze crashes for candidate signal projects along congested corridors, and for sections of roadways that are candidates for safety audits. The single database allows a voluminous amount of information to be distilled down to prioritized factors and spatially mapped across the region.

SPC continues to expand access to information regarding the region’s Traffic Signal locations. SPC created an ArcGIS Flexviewer application to allow PennDOT staff and planning partners to view the location and components both within and outside of their jurisdictions for the purposes of determining future upgrades. When coupled with the extensive data in the online traffic signal database, the mapping helps planners look at entire corridors for possible solutions to improve traffic flow. By incorporating additional GIS data, the application allows users to see attributes on individual signals, view traffic data from GIS files of PennDOT’s roadway management system, and print simple maps. Staff made additional enhancements to differentiate between complete signals, beacons and flashers in both the database and the map application. As Traffic Signal projects are completed, Staff updates the system with new permit information, revised permit scans, and timing data.

Building on an extensive collection of GIS data representing the natural environment, SPC advanced efforts to improve the breadth and quality of data representing hydrology, elevation and soils in support of SPC’s Water Resource Program. The updated data represents environmental factors that may affect areas located within storm water management watersheds and will aid in identifying storm water impacts to transportation and other hard infrastructure. Land cover data was standardized in all member counties along with mapping for Act 167 Designated Watersheds and Municipalities with Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4). SPC will move forward with refining spatial data representing impaired waterways across the region and cataloging data for the total maximum daily loads across selected waterways to support the environmental resource components of SPC’s short and long range transportation and economic development plans.

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GIS Metadata (External Site)

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For additional information on GIS activities at SPC, please call Kirk Brethauer at (412) 391-5590 x 347 or e-mail kbrethauer@spctiptracker.org

 

 

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