Hi all, this is my first post on Geonet, and I am excited to begin sharing some of the projects and workflows that I have gone through over the past couple of months. I'll also be talking about applying Geographic Information Sciences (GIS) to some of the areas that I'm passionate about, including transportation, national security, urban planning, public policy, and imagery. My first couple of blog posts will focus on brief overviews of some GIS applications that I've made or seen in specific areas of study before I begin to delve deeper into experiences with individual products, extensions, and fields.
Though I love understanding how things move, I've always found mass transportation to be especially interesting. From subways to commuter rail to buses to bikeshares, moving large sums of people quickly, efficiently, and in a more environmentally salient way is always a challenge. But how does GIS factor into this, and how/should you get involved? (hint: you should)
GIS helps give geographical, demographic, and other types of context to anyone looking to learn more about a specific field. For transportation, this includes enabling planers, developers, politicians, and other stakeholders to analyze demographic data, environmental data, imagery and other geospatially enabled data to understand where new transportation infrastructure can have the greatest positive effect on existing populations, while minimizing environmental disturbances, and ensuring that at-risk populations are not left behind with new development. GIS and transportation work together like wheels on a bus, with GIS enabling transportation decision makers to 'roll' forward with smarter decisions (and eliminating those pesky rush-hour traffic jams that ruin your day).
For those of you that are new to GIS and interested in transportation (or really anything) the first thing you should explore is an ArcGIS Online (AGOL) account. This gives you the ability to load a webmap with a variety of basemaps including streets, topographic grey canvases, and thousands of other options. My favorite thing to do is explore the imagery and start to find interesting patters that could alert someone to the presence of transportation infrastructure (Rails, Runways, Roads, Trails, Bridges, etc...). Using your eyes as remote sensors is a fun and easy way to start to understand the geographic characteristics of a location that you are not currently in.
A more advanced step for incorporating GIS data into your map is using Living Atlas or ArcGIS Online content to give your map some context. This can include bringing in transportation layers from organizations like WMATA, Amtrak, METRA, MTA, and thousands of others (not just in the US too!). A really cool thing about AGOL is that it can incorporate live data that enables you to track the movement of transportation vehicles, monitor live traffic and weather data, and even bring in 3D models to give your map more context (more on that in a later post) all at one time! My favorite thing to do is bring in current transportation layers and then add demographic data to see where populations and incomes will grow the most over the next 5 years and then try to build my own smarter additions to the transportation network with the goal of making it more connected and effective.
Look at the images below for some ideas about how you can incorporate transportation data into your mapping experience. Check back in every other week for new blog posts! Next time we will continue our adventures in transportation, and show some cools ways you can plan your transportation network of the future. Until then, keep those map 'rollin' on in!
*The content of this post is my views and experiences alone and does not reflect the views of my employer.