NRA puts Ireland’s roads on the web

14 Jan 2004

The National Roads Authority has gone live with a web-based geographical information system (GIS) that provides information on more than 5,500km of Irish roads.

The new system will be available to more than 100 NRA users in an easy-to-use, map-based format. The NRA has overall responsibility for the planning and supervision of construction and maintenance works on Ireland’s national road network.

An existing GIS system, based on an Oracle database, holds road data such as road condition, accident information, drainage and road usage, necessary to employees across the organisation. This has only been directly available to employees who are GIS trained. Other employees had to request the information or use summary reports. The NRA identified a requirement to give all employees direct, fast, easy access to this information and this system now provides that.

Using the new system based on the Environmental Systems Research Institute’s (ESRI) ArcIMS system, engineering inspectors will be able to view traffic volumes, speed limit locations and even archaeology in the vicinity of any national road. This not only releases the GIS section from running numerous reports for people, but also gives the engineering inspector instant access to the data they need.

A tender was issued to four leading GIS vendors, including ESRI Ireland, to provide a proof-of-concept prototype for an Intranet solution, based on supplied sample data. ESRI Ireland’s solution was chosen over the competition based on an excellent working prototype, which the NRA felt best met their requirements. ESRI Ireland’s strong position within the Irish GIS community was also a deciding factor. The prototype was customised with the help of the ESRI Ireland Consultancy team and company-wide deployment was completed in October.

Commenting on the intranet implementation, the GIS manager at the NRA Martin Bourke commented: “Since we went live with the ESRI web GIS, we have had some really positive feedback from users. Any employee with access to the Intranet now has immediate access to up-to-date information — they can retrieve Ordnance Survey maps of their area of interest and overlay them with the required attribute data. The main thing is that they can do this without having to have specific GIS training.”

Planned developments for the system include increasing the data held within it and integrating the web GIS with the NRA’s existing project management system. This will allow users to see further information such as costing and time scales for road building and maintenance schemes.

By John Kennedy