All roads lead to GIS

16 Nov 2005

The National Roads Authority (NRA) is building a new geographical information systems (GIS) to help manage the expanding national roads network. The contract was awarded to GIS provider ESRI Ireland in May after a public procurement process and the system is now in the final stages of delivery.

The project scope includes the provision of software but also the professional services required to migrate data out of the Oracle-based legacy systems in to a new architecture based on MS SQL Server and ArcGIS 9.1, ESRI Ireland’s GIS software.

The NRA records a large amount of data relating to the 5,400km road network via road surveys and other operational programmes. This information includes details of road surface materials, maintenance records, surface condition, signage, drainage, bridges and other structures as well as traffic accidents. All of this information is geographically registered with reference relative to its distance along a road segment.

The NRA has used GIS systems from a number of suppliers, including ESRI Ireland, since 1998. Earlier this year the Authority decided to replace legacy technology with a new GIS system capable of meeting its current and future needs. “We wanted a system that would consolidate our existing diverse GIS platforms onto a single platform capable of meeting our functional requirements. We needed a solution that would scale in terms of storage, performance and functionality as GIS demand increases within the NRA,” said Brendan Kennedy, GIS manager, NRA.

“The use of GIS in transport management is now becoming the norm,” comments Eamonn Doyle, principal consultant, ESRI Ireland. “We have invested heavily in technology which allows road networks to be modeled as a single component of a multi-model transport network. The emphasis in the Transport 21 plan is on just this sort of integrated model and we hope to see further success in this segment in the future.”

ESRI Ireland has a number of other public sector GIS customers. They include Coillte, which uses its software to map all of its forest holdings and generate harvesting plans off and the Department of Environment and Local Government, which uses ESRI technology to manage planning applications. ESRI Ireland is the Irish arm of US-based ESRI which was founded in 1982 and dominates the global market for GIS systems.

By Brian Skelly