South Dakota wins international award for innovative highway mapping system


The South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT) has won an international award for its innovative use of mapping technology to help prioritize work and improvements to the state’s roadway system.

Esri, a world leader in geographic information system (GIS) technology, has presented SDDOT with a prestigious Special Achievement in GIS (SAG) Award, at its annual User Conference in San Diego, California. Selected from over 300,000 eligible candidates, the agency received the award for its innovative application of technology, data collection, geospatial information visualization and thoughtful leadership through GIS.

SDDOT was one of 167 organizations in fields such as agriculture, defense, transportation, non-profit, telecommunications, and state and local government to receive a SAG Award. Esri staff nominate thousands of candidates annually from around the world for consideration, and company president Jack Dangermond selects the finalists. Esri founder Dangermond is a keynote speaker at the 2016 ITS World Congress in Melbourne, Australia, this October.

SDDOT annually creates a 700-page document called the South Dakota Highway Needs and Project Analysis Report. The document contains information on identification, geometrics, structural characteristics, traffic, crashes, and programmed improvements on state routes. The old application created pages by using DS MapBook technology. However, technology advances necessitated a change, and the agency’s goal was to replace the existing technology with a dynamic, user-friendly web application to make the data available to both GIS and non-GIS clients, while taking advantage of additional data layers, such as the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) and asset inventories. This paper document was used by multiple departments within the DOT.

The new application opens in a web browser and allows the user to zoom to an area, select a highway from the dropdown list, and view the data for a selected route. As the user pans across the map window, the attributes refresh and display the data for the segments viewable in the map extent. The old document had limited content due to page size, while the new app is scalable so additional data fields may be added as needed. The app reads the underlying data tables and optimizes how the page is rendered. Tools in the UI (user interface) give the author freedom to change the look of any page, and enhanced functionality allows printing by page, route, area, or the entire book. The 2015 edition of the report is the 12th edition to use the Esri ArcGIS software.

“The SAG Awards serve a great purpose,” said Dangermond. “A Special Achievement in GIS Award recognizes best practices for organizations implementing technology to change the world. Highlighting good work benefits the entire GIS community and that’s very valuable.”

SDDOT’s planning and engineering division director, Mike Behm, commented, “Our GIS team in the office of Transportation Inventory Management has continually identified ways to improve the products they deliver to both internal and external customers throughout the state and nation. This award is an honor for the agency and is another example of our outstanding use of innovation and exceptional customer service.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).