SEPTA Uses Esri Platform to Plan for Papal Visit to Philadelphia

SEPTA Uses Esri Platform to Collaborate, Plan for Papal Visit to City of Brotherly Love (Part One)

Pope Francis' visit to Philadelphia was a major logistics event for SEPTA and the region.

In September 2015, Pope Francis visited Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as part of the World Meeting of Families. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), operating the Philadelphia region’s public transit network, had to implement a plan to accommodate the large number of attendees expected for this historic occasion. Gannett Fleming, Inc. was selected to assist SEPTA with preparing for this event’s significant transportation logistics requirements; while GeoDecisions, the geospatial information technology (IT) division of Gannett Fleming, played a major role in leveraging the Esri® ArcGIS Online platform to support this effort.

Plan Objectives

Gannett Fleming provided SEPTA with rail station logistics plans to accommodate approximately 10,000 to 13,000 passengers per station expected during the Pope’s visit. Development details included:

  • an available parking lot classification, designation, and assignment plan for 20 primary stations utilized
  • a macro-level vehicles and pedestrians traffic plan to and from each station
  • a micro-level passenger queuing plan within each station.

Team Diversity

To achieve project objectives, individuals from multiple Gannett Fleming divisions were identified with expertise in traffic planning and management, pedestrian planning and management, geospatial IT, emergency management for large events, and public safety. While this team functioned smoothly when discerning policy and planning framework requirements, it became evident that geospatial technology was needed to support data collection, synthesis, analysis, and presentation requirements.

GIS Solution

As GIS lead, GeoDecisions staff designed a SEPTA geospatial strategy. The Esri ArcGIS Online platform foundation enabled team members to collect, update, and share data simultaneously. Due to the limited project time frame and diversity of individuals involved, deploying a rapid, easy-to-use, and accessible GIS solution was paramount.

Core project data was stored in an Oracle® Database, where necessary field domains were assigned. A set of desktop maps were then designed to fit different task disciplines. These maps were published through ArcGIS Server then consumed by ArcGIS Online as web maps.

Stay tuned for more on data security and field collection including lessons learned. 


"Pope-5" by michael_swan is licensed under CC BY 2.0