Work-flow driven application integrates GIS, disparate data sources, and requisite forms to improve transportation planning and management
March 21, 2019 (Harrisburg, Pa.) GeoDecisions®, an international geospatial technology company, has completed the development and launch of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s PennDOT Connects Application. The web-based application was created to enhance cooperation between districts, planning partners, and municipalities in their work to identify and address the commonwealth’s most pressing infrastructure needs.
“The new application provides municipal planning offices, rural planning offices, district planners, and central office planners with a single portal to collect and manage key project information, forms, and community input pertinent to the project proposal and planning process,” said David C. Thieme, MCSD, MCDBA, FCP, JCP, a solutions architect at GeoDecisions. “It also integrates the latest data from the state’s roadway, bridge and environmental management systems to create customizable geospatial maps of defined project areas, including flood plains, extreme weather, bridges, existing project proposals, multimodal project management system designations, and proximity to environmental and archaeological sites.”
The PennDOT Connects Application replaces PennDOT’s legacy screening form for project proposals and environmental scoring and allows users to complete Project Initiation Forms within the application. It leverages business process management principals to streamline procedures and engage each user at the appropriate points of the process based upon their role and responsibilities. Social networking and collaboration tools are incorporated into the portal to promote discussion, knowledge sharing, co-creation, and form completion.
The portal features an easy-to-use interface that minimizes training time and reduces the need for additional systematic programming or recoding. It also features a robust search engine that allows users to query any data point in the system. An accompanying mobile tool is in development that will equip users to take meeting notes and gather study area information in real-time while at public meetings or in the field.
“With the full scope of a proposed project at their fingertips, project planners are better able to consider all factors and issues that may impact the project, its delivery schedule, or budget – a key priority of the PennDOT Connects transportation planning process,” said Brendan Wesdock, MCP, GISP, president of GeoDecisions. “Our team leveraged its deep understanding of the workflows and forms used by many departments of transportation to create a system backbone that we can adapt for other applications.”
Gannett Fleming, GeoDecision’s parent company, has also been deeply engaged in supporting the implementation of the PennDOT Connects Policy, which aims to transform capital and maintenance project development by ensuring that community collaboration happens early and that each project is considered in a holistic way. The global infrastructure and engineering firm took on roles for multiple work orders, including:
Planning Catalyst Team Support, supported PennDOT Connects’ think-tank for improving transportation planning at the state and local level
Regional Long-Range Transportation Plan Guidance, which addressed how MPOs and RPOs can adapt their planning practices to accurately reflect community development priorities
Planning and Engineering 360, a three-module training series Gannett Fleming designed and facilitated at five venues across the state to teach planners and engineers to collaborate on community planning, transportation planning, and transportation project development
PennDOT Connects Municipal Outreach, Training, and Technical Assistance Program, developed the municipal outreach program and facilitated more than 30 two-hour municipal outreach sessions with local officials.
Development and Training for Publication 688, conducted research and interviews with municipalities that have adopted comprehensive plans to identify significant transportation issues and weigh their experiences with benefits and drawbacks. Gannett Fleming leveraged the research to develop a technical handbook of best-practices in transportation planning within comprehensive plans.