Leveraging GIS in Transportation Planning
In India, the road network is huge as the road length is more than 3.01 million Kilometres with 34608 km of National Highway, 128622 km of State Highway and informal network of 2737080 km. These roads are majorly operated in different social, economic and climatic environments. In the country, management and planning of such a vast network is primarily done at two different levels, national and local. The planning at the national level is broad and is carried out using macro level attributes and data like gross domestic product, area etc. whilst at the local level it is more problem specific and centric but is confined to a vicinity of a few metropolitan cities.
In India, a study’s findings states that due to lack of relevant data, the road planning network was not done based on the travel demand requirements. There have been times that the major planning of road networks suffered because of lack of data. Even though when the data was available, the issue then was of access and management of data as the important and valuable information related to current/existing transport infrastructure is scattered all around the country in various organizations. At the state level, attributes of NH, SH and MDR network is available in bits and pieces in different organizations which is rarely utilized effectively. Hence, when looked at it practically the present available data of locations have not been utilized optimally.
One of the many issues highway networks face is deterioration die to lack of funds for infrastructure. Here in such scenario GIS becomes the ray of hope as it can help in improving decision making process of any area for using the available funds in a better and smart way. GIS is widely been used in the field of transportation by planning agencies, metropolitan transportation organizations. Maintenance management of highway is the most critical issue faced by almost every developed country; so, the authorities take help of GIS for highways and transport management.
GIS helps the transport planners to collect, store and analyze the data on density of population, land uses, travel behavior etc. Typically, it includes highway maintenance, traffic modelling, accident analysis, and route planning and environmental assessment of road schemes through better understanding of general topography, land cover and impact on environment.
The objective of GIS is to map, display and integrate the data for better understanding of attributes and to ease the decision making process. Government and agencies look at the data critically to identify advantages/ disadvantages, potential issues through GIS to make the process efficient and effective by optimum utilization of resources and at large develop a better transportation policy and planning.