Chicago tracking fleet with GIS
- By Brian Robinson
- Jul 24, 2002
Chicago's huge fleet of government vehicles will be watched over and controlled
by a Web-based geographic information system starting in September, when
the second phase of a project to upgrade the city's automated vehicle location
(AVL) system is completed.
The new system also will be a critical piece of Chicago's homeland security
strategy, something that was only a minor consideration in the project's
initial planning but has become "a very big deal" after Sept. 11, according
to Scott Stocking, a GIS analyst for the city.
As part of the upgraded system, fleet managers will get real-time security
alerts if vehicles stray from their normal routes and operating procedures.
It will also allow them to disable any vehicles.
"A card-swipe security feature has always been a part of the AVL to
ensure only authorized users will drive the vehicles," Stocking said. "But
we decided to beef up the alert notification in Phase 2, and now all of
our [fleet vehicles] will have this feature."
Chicago's vehicle management system was based on a traditional client/server
approach, with all of the difficulties and costs associated with maintaining
that system. The Web-based front end will allow the city to consolidate
its vehicle data into a single repository and use an ESRI's ArcIMS server
to provide access to the GIS via a Web browser.
The Web-based approach also will enable the city to open the GIS data
for other applications, said Peter Thum, president and co-founder of GeoAnalytics
Inc., the Madison, Wis., consulting firm that developed the Web-based GIS
front end for the AVL. One possibility is to link certain application service
providers to the system to provide layers of functionality.
An example that the city is already considering, according to Stocking,
is to use such a service to link weather-related predictions of snow storm
intensities to make sure snow plows and other vehicles were sent to where
they could do the most good.
Other services could include 3-D aerial photography, which will provide
a better perspective of activities in certain areas.
Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be reached
Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.