The task of setting a realistic criterion to decide which roads to repair on priority has become more difficult with limited funds for road maintenance, an ever-increasing road network and the related voluminous data. In order to maintain its voluminous transport infrastructure data, the Tamil Nadu Highways Department (TNHD) has established a web-based Road Maintenance Management System (RMMS), consisting of a database to store road condition data collected through special data-collection vehicles. TNHD is primarily responsible for the construction of new roads and maintenance of its vast existing road network in Tamil Nadu.
RMMS consists of a web-enabled Road Information System and PMS – a planning system for prioritisation of roads to suit the budget. Although RMMS generates a variety of reports related to road and bridge data, it lacks visualisation capabilities. TNHD wanted an application, which would provide them with visualisation capabilities to better allocate resources for the road sector. Geographical Information System (GIS) was a befitting solution to provide visualisation and enhance the analytical, problem-solving, and decision-making capabilities of TNHD.
How it works
A GIS map with data on roads and bridges can help decision-makers in planning, monitoring, and maintaining of roads and related assets effectively. TNHD deployed a solution, centered around Esri’s ArcGIS Server technology, a web-based GIS road and bridge information system (based on the client-server architecture) under e-Pathai (electronic project, administration, traffic, highway assets and information management system) programme, that integrated the GIS solution with RMMS and Project & Finance Management System (P&FMS).
e-Pathai GIS help to view, understand, question, interpret, and visualize data in many ways that reveal relationships, patterns, and trends. The system is a mix of digital base maps for Tamil Nadu consisting of several layers (spatial data) compiled from different sources, such as Survey of India (SOI) and attribute data (non-spatial data) on roads, bridges, etc. from RMMS database besides other attribute data of interest such as demographic details from the Census of India, average annual rainfall data from the Meteorological Department of India.
Several spatial and non-spatial data from various sources have been integrated into e-Pathai GIS. The key sources for spatial and non-spatial data are Survey of India (SOI), Open Series Maps (OSM), and RMMS. The SOI layers in e-Pathai GIS are available only to departmental users due to sensitive nature of data. Spatial data for 20,000 km (SH and MDR) based on GPS data stored currently in RMMS has been used to create a graphical representation of the roads in e-Pathai GIS. The spatial layer thus created has been linked with the related non-spatial or attribute data in RMMS after cleanup of the various graphical data inconsistencies.
In addition to OSM digital data from SOI, several other spatial and related non-spatial data have been compiled as additional layers (MLA, MP constituency boundaries, soil boundaries, district-wise annual average rainfall from various sources, after taking appropriate undertaking and permission, in the e-Pathai GIS.
The ArcGIS platform’s extensive capability helped TNHD to rationalise their decision making in planning, programming, funding and allocation of resources. e-Pathai GIS has been programmed in such a way that the public can also access details about bridges, roads and other projects implemented by the highways department.