Van Sutherland on GIS and Capital Metro

CenTexGIS 003Earlier this month, The Central Texas GIS Users Group presented its first GUS Award (GIS User Spotlight Award) to Capital Metro’s GIS Coordinator Van Sutherland. CenTex GIS Executive Committee Member Jack Avis presented Van the award for “valuable contributions, exceptional leadership, analytical skills, mentoring, and dedication to the field of GIS.” That’s Van there on the right.

Last November, the agency celebrated GIS Day, and you can relive the magic (and learn more about Van’s work) in this earlier post.  (GIS Day 2009 is November 18.)

For those of you asking, “What the heck is GIS, and what does it have to do with Capital Metro?” here’s the answer, from Van himself:

A geographic information system (GIS) integrates hardware, software, and data for capturing, managing, analyzing, and displaying all forms of geographically referenced information.  At Capital Metro, GIS is a critical component that impacts numerous other systems.

Bus stop data is an obvious example of geographically referenced information.  Our GIS includes location (on street / cross street and geographic coordinates), amenities, accessibility, route assignments, photos, and passenger counts for bus stops.  Data on all Capital Metro bus routes is also maintained in our GIS.  This information is used by our service planners to perform analyses and determine how to best allocate resources.

Location information from GIS is fed into the Trapeze FX system for route scheduling.  This schedule data is then combined with the GIS information to update our Web-based trip planner, provide information to Marketing for information display units and other publications, and update our Web-based route maps.  The information is provided to Google for use in their transit trip planner, and to the Sendero group for use in Braille-enabled GPS devices for the visually impaired.

GIS is used to maintain information on our fixed route service area, which is comprised of member jurisdictions.  Combining this information with route information, GIS is used to create files for the Trapeze PASS system defining ADA priority corridors.  MetroAccess personnel use this information to determine eligibility for trip requests.

Capital Metro personnel have collected location data, using GPS technology, on our rail line from Giddings to Llano.  The alignment of the tracks, locations of all switches, crossings, trestles, sidings, control points, and commuter rail stations are stored in GIS.  This data is made available for use in the rail control system, as well as for asset management.

In addition to the geographic data created by Capital Metro, we must maintain a number of other datasets critical to any analyses and / or presentation of our data.  Updated street information is gathered from City of Austin, Travis County, CAPCOG, and other sources, and incorporated into our GIS for use in route planning.  Census data, bike paths, zoning, parcel boundaries, address information, zip code boundaries, and sidewalks are other examples of the types of data used in our GIS.

My responsibility is to ensure all data in our GIS is as accurate and current as possible, to facilitate the flow of data between GIS and other systems, and to provide assistance and guidance to GIS users.

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