GIS Tool to Measure Performance of Winter Highway Operations

Available Documents
Quarterly Report December 2004
Quarterly Report March 2005
Quarterly Report June 2005
Quarterly Report December 2005
Quarterly Report March 2006
Quarterly Report June 2006
Final Report
Research Summary

Primary Investigator
Alan P. Vonderohe
Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
1204 Engineering Hall, 1415 Engineering Drive
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
University of Wisconsin – Madison
Madison, WI 53706

Project Objective

  1.  Use of Wiscplow to compute performance measures and create decision management tools for participating counties, including evaluation of the performance measures for managing and optimizing winter operations;
  2. Implementation of a solution to the remaining spatial ambiguity problem;
  3. Testing of the necessary spatial database for each participating county; and
  4. Installation of, and training on, Wiscplow and the spatial databases at each participating County Highway Department.

Project Abstract
One of UW-Madison’s primary activities on the Winter Maintenance Concept Vehicle Project has been development of a geographic information system (GIS) application, referred to as “Wiscplow”. This software system computes winter maintenance operations performance measures by integrating and analyzing environmental, equipment status, and materials usage data coming from the vehicles with spatial databases of roadway centerlines, attributed with patrol sections, route systems, number-of-lanes, and functional class. Patrol sections are roadway segments usually assigned to one vehicle. Manually-entered data, such as storm event types and durations, labor and equipment cost rates, [j1]and vehicle equipment configurations are also used in the computation of performance measures. Wiscplow outputs include reports and decision management tools (e.g., charts, graphs, and maps) that show values of, and relationships among, computed performance measures.

Decision management tools allow managers to visualize relationships among performance measures and make well-informed decisions on their business practices. Ultimately, Wiscplow is intended to help transportation agencies at multiple levels (i.e.,central office, districts, and counties) to measure performance of winter operations. Before participating counties can use Wiscplow successfully, several impediments must be overcome. One impediment results from positional errors in both vehicle data and roadway spatial databases. Early sensitivity testing of performance measures revealed four computational problems arising from spatial ambiguities in these data sets. Some of these problems are being addressed on the current project. However, in the current project, one particularly complex computational problem will remain unaddressed. To resolve the remaining spatial ambiguity problem, Wiscplow needs further refinement. Another impediment that limits the effectiveness of the Wiscplow application is a
lack of accurate and attributed spatial databases. Before Wiscplow can be used productively, counties must have accurate roadway centerline spatial databases and these databases must be attributed in certain ways. While a few of the participating counties have adequately accurate spatial databases, many of them do not. Moreover, none of the counties’ spatial databases are attributed to be operational with Wiscplow.

Task Descriptions
Additional performance measures will be written into the Wiscplow code. A remaining spatial ambiguity will be corrected. Appropriate digital maps will be obtained. Software will be installed at participating counties.

Relationship to Other Research Projects

Potential Benefits of the Project
This project will move the concept winter maintenance vehicle, which has been an effort of several states, to another level.

Technology Transfer Activities
The research team will provide on-site training and installation in each of the participating counties.

Project Information

  • Milestones, Dates: Project Start Date: September 1, 2003. Project End Date: August 31, 2004
  • Budget: $130,000
  • Student Involvement: 3 project assistants
  • TRB Keywords: GIS, Winter Highway Maintenance, Snowplow
  • Primary Subject: GIS Tool for Winter Maintenance Vehicles
  • Modal Orientation: Highway
  • Project Number: 04-01