NC IT Roadmap - Transportation

“For families trying to get to work and school faster, for farmers and business owners seeking to get their goods to customers, and for CEOs looking to grow in North Carolina, transportation is essential.” 

- Governor Cooper 

North Carolina has the second largest highway system in the country, with 15,000 miles of primary highway and 80,000 total miles of roadway, 18,000 bridges and culverts, 3,300 miles of train track, and 70 public airports. It is the responsibility of government to ensure the safety of all who travel in our state.

Transportation is a high-tech industry, whether using state-of-the-art techniques and materials to build our bridges, drones to collect images for mapping and planning, or online and mobile options for issuing driver’s licenses and renewing registrations. Information technology is a driving force in the delivery of world class transportation services. We will continue to leverage technologies like GIS to improve our roads, and will rely heavily on digital technologies for customer-facing services like license renewal.

DMV Improvements

The N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles is working to reduce the amount of time spent and the number of transactions that take place in DMV and vehicle registration offices. This is being accomplished in large part by automating he processes and allowing for online transactions.

Screen Capture of N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles Website

myNCDMV: myNCDMV is a cloud-based digital service that delivers a simplified, on-the-go experience for many DMV transactions. The new platform went live late in 2018 with the ability to conduct vehicle registration renewals, property tax payments on limited registration license plates, duplicate registration card requests and specialty license plate orders. Thousands of NC citizens have used myNCDMV for streamlined mobile transactions, with overwhelmingly positive feedback. Over 630,000 constituents have set up profiles and almost 800,000 transactions have gone through the platform with an exceptionally low 0.3% of all transitions requiring support. Additional services will be added in the coming months to include driver license renewals, duplicate license and ID card requests, driving record orders, and online appointment scheduling.

myNCDMV is leading the charge in creating a more frictionless, simplified approach to conducting business with citizens. We are looking at other lines of business where we can leverage this technology. 
Process Improvement Initiatives: DOT has hired a vendor to assist them in developing a plan for process improvement across their many types of transactions. They are considering many improvements including:

  • Providing a way for customers to fill out DMV forms online and having them ready when they come into the office.
  • Establishing a partnership with the Department of Public Instruction to allow individuals who pass driver’s education classes through the school system to take their exams online at the schools rather than coming into DMV facilities. Exam results will be available when the individual comes into the office for the driving test, saving students and parents time and reducing overall wait times in the facilities.

Transportation Innovations

We strive to build and operate our highway system as efficiently as possible. While the average driver may not see all the information technology that contributes to the development and management of roads, there are teams of people and billions of dollars spent annually to the quality and safety of our roads. Below are some of the many initiatives DOT is undertaking.

DOT Toll Systems: As North Carolina’s population grows, the NC Turnpike Authority is working to increase the number of toll roads in the state to give drivers more choices in routes, reduce congestion and provide an additional revenue stream to repair and build new roads. As these roads are being developed the latest toll-collecting technologies are being researched and implemented. The Triangle Expressway and the Monroe Expressway utilize all electronic tolling technology which eliminates the need for drivers to stop to pay a toll. Instead, drivers travel at highway speeds through free-flow toll zones that use high-speed video cameras and overhead gantries with radio frequency readers to identify drivers and collect tolls. The approach, called open-road tolling, not only eliminates toll booths and allows for free-flowing traffic, it significantly improves the quality of life for travelers and communities.

NC Quick Pass HOV: The DOT has recently launched a new program in the Charlotte area called NC Quick Pass HOV, a mobile app and website managed by the NC Turnpike Authority. This site allows NC Quick Pass account holders to set High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) status and travel in the I-77 Express Lanes for free when there are three or more occupants in the vehicle. To qualify for free travel users must have an NC Quick Pass account in good standing, have a transponder properly installed in the vehicle and set HOV status at least 15 minutes before traveling in the express lanes. This program is currently only valid in I-77 Express Lanes but future enhancements to the program are expected. 

DOT UAS Integration Pilot Program: North Carolina’s DOT was selected as one of 10 participants in the federal government’s Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP). This program focuses on bringing together state, local, and tribal governments with private sector entities to discuss safe drone integration. The program was designed to help the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) craft new rules that support more complex low-altitude operations by identifying ways to balance local and national interests related to drone integration; improving communications with state, local, and tribal jurisdictions; addressing security and privacy risks; and accelerating the approval of operations that currently require special authorizations. The program has generated meaningful dialogue and provided actionable information to the USDOT on expanded and universal integration of drones into the National Airspace System.

Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) Enhancements

Transportation is inherently geospatial. GIS tools significantly aid in planning, monitoring and managing complex transportation systems. Through GIS-based traffic modeling, accident analysis, and route planning, we can determine where capacity enhancements are needed and identify opportunities for strategic investment.  

Project Advancing Transportation through Linkages, Automation, and Screening (ATLAS): DOT's Project ATLAS

will be an enterprise IT system that fills a major gap in the agency's project delivery process. ATLAS consists of a suite of GIS web applications that help manage and expedite transportation projects that are being evaluated for potential human and natural environmental impacts (adhering to the National and State Environmental Protections Act) that can cause projects to be delayed and budgets to be expended. The ATLAS system has been designed to provide better information to project teams so that projects can be completed quicker and more efficiently. The following is a breakdown of Project ATLAS applications and the role they serve in supporting the agency through this process:

  • The ATLAS Search Tool is a GIS web application that has been specifically designed to allow project teams to find and download spatial data related to project development so that environmental analyses can be conducted. The ATLAS system puts into place data standards that did not previously exist so that all projects across the state are being evaluated using the most current and authoritative data available.  
  • The ATLAS Screening tool is a GIS web application that allows project teams to screen transportation projects and study areas for potential impacts. This application provides data for download and exports a PDF report that quantifies these potential impacts. Prior to ATLAS, this was a lengthy manual process. 
  • The ATLAS Workbench is a web application that is integrated with DOT's SharePoint Connect environment and automates deliverable upload, as well as harvests spatial data for all projects using the system. In the past, DOT did not collect any spatial data that was created per project during this effort. Through Project ATLAS, DOT will be providing over 100 new GIS web-services that can be used by other agencies across the state. The Workbench also provides project management functionality so project teams can more efficiently administer transportation projects.
  • The ATLAS Administration Application allows select managers the ability to update components of the other applications without having to go through formal IT development processes.  

Project ATLAS will be an extensible, flexible system that has the potential to integrate with other systems as needed.

Mobile (GPS/UAS) Spatial Data Collection: The mobile data collection program within DOT is coordinating the application of drone technology and associated data collection activities utilizing Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), across the division.

Until the development of the mobile data collection effort, mobile projects were the sole purview of the agency, division, or group creating the mobile project. Rules, regulations, standards and support were piecemeal and insular. One of the most important tasks of the mobile data collection effort is the creation and implementation of standards and guides, and a centralized support structure to provide to agencies utilizing mobile data collection and GIS-based UAS efforts. Mobile GIS and UAS have untapped potential and will only continue to propagate across the entirety of State enterprise. 

NCDOT Geospatial Portal (GO!NC 2.0): DOT’s primary geospatial portal for GIS data and maps is GO!NC. GO!NC is currently a hybrid solution, consisting of ArcGIS Online and an internal deployment of ArcGIS for Server. The GO!NC product provides a flexible platform for DOT staff to develop, share, and maintain geospatial data, maps, and applications. It supports enterprise-level content as well as content intended for teams and individuals. The GO!NC

product meets many needs such as providing a platform for content discovery, supporting non-technical NCDOT users in developing and sharing geospatial data, providing a solution for DOT’s field data collection efforts, supporting custom application development, and enhancing public outreach efforts. DOT continually finds new ways to use GO!NC to meet business needs.

In 2015 DOT was awarded a Special Achievement in GIS (SAG) from Esri. The SAG is awarded to organizations who set new precedents in the GIS community. Today there are over 1,000 DOT employees with active GO!NC accounts (over 300 of these were added in 2017 alone) and over 50 contractors actively using GO!NC for mobile data collection. There are over 200 datasets and over 100 web maps publicly shared.

GO!NC has supported North Carolina citizens through emergency events with timely geospatial transportation information since its inception, some examples include Hurricane Sandy (2012), Hurricane Matthew (2016) and most recently Hurricane Florence (2018) and Hurricane Matthew (2018).

To continue to provide the high level of service, and growth of GIS at DOT, we will update DOT’s geospatial portal in terms of user empowerment, discovery, and functionality.

Transportation Online Planning, Prioritization, and Programming System (TOP3S): TOP3S is a GIS-based, rules-driven solution that automates, supports, and integrates the key aspects of DOT's planning, prioritization, and programming processes for all statewide transportation projects. This solution will support DOT’s Strategic Prioritization Office of Transportation (SPOT Office), and will include:

  • Providing a centralized secure repository for all DOT transportation projects with functionality to geo-spatially support business processes from project entry (Planning), through evaluation and scoring (Prioritization), and normalization and State Transportation Improvement Projects (STIP) distribution (Programming).
  • Automating the integration of the data needed from internal and external sources to support the planning, prioritization and programming processes.
  • Providing decision support functions for long term planning and the creation of optimized programming scenarios for the maximization of DOT resources and project delivery.
  • Establishing a connection between planning, prioritization, and programming as projects will be maintained in a single dataset, allowing users to track projects as they flow through the process.
  • Implementing an open and transparent data-driven prioritization process for partner agencies, elected officials, DOT staff and the public.
  • Improving the methodology used to plan, evaluate and score, normalize, and  identify and select projects to be funded and implemented.
  • Maintaining an ongoing commitment to transparency.

Traffic Engineering Accident Analysis System (TEAAS) Reporting Integration: The NCDOT Transportation Mobility and Safety Division (TMSD) requires assistance with developing a solution that will provide an efficient method of sharing current ordinance spatial data with their customers. Over the last two decades there has been a steady increase in the demand for ordinances delivered as spatial data products, especially from commercial businesses in the freight transportation industry. The Farm Equipment ordinance (G.S. § 20-116 (j) (8) f), is statutorily required, and at this time is several years out of date due to business owner level staff reductions and turnover. Without the capability to distribute accurate ordinance spatial data, law enforcement issue tickets in error, freight and construction vehicles risk using unauthorized roadways which may result in situations such as trucks becoming stuck in tunnels, and elevated safety risk to non-freight related traffic due to public consumption of faulty ordinance data through commercial providers of navigation software.

Currently, there are approximately 80 ordinance types that are stored in the TEAAS, DOT’s system of record, and all are useful as spatial data for both internal and external customers. However, this data is not natively stored in a spatial data format creating a significant resource burden to convert and reference to the current published version of the LRS. This project serves to comply with state statutes, facilitate the public consuming more accurate information, and reduce the risk of public violation of ordinances, which increase the risk of unsafe conditions on our roadways.

GIS/SAP Integration: DOT has made significant investments in SAP and GIS. These enterprise systems provide a technology platform to improve planning, operational efficiency, and decision making. One limitation of the current implementation of the systems integration is that data flow between GIS and SAP is not always automatic, forcing staff to take manual steps to perform some analyses or generate reports. Increasing the automated integration between GIS and SAP will provide a better user experience, create opportunities for business data visualization to support decision making, and serve as a pattern for organizing and integrating information across the enterprise.