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I am in a road association and we maintain our own 3 mile dirt road. In doing research on best practices for maintenance I discovered that other organizations use some mapping/GIS programs to help.

I know very little about GIS in general and wonder what would be good resources to start with.

More specifically, is there a generic program I can use to create a map of the road, then use it to collaborate with others to track issues with the road, map points on it and keep a history of maintenance?

If not, is there a base for this kind of thing and can a developer build one in a reasonable amount of time? I am a software developer and would b more than happy to spend time on this project if that is required to get different pieces working.

The road is in Vermont.

EDIT:

Basically what I am hoping for is the following:

  • Software that allows me to drive a specific route and store that as a working model.
  • Download some GPS/County information to automagically set elevations, etc.
  • Allow multiple people to use the software and share information
  • Look at historical data over time (e.g. locations of potholes, bad ice, washboarding in a certain year or month - and view that as a report) - or some other means of collecting and storing data sets and keeping them distinct in time.

Please disabuse me of any unreasonable expectations or educate me on what I should be looking for.

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You might want to look for a simple Pavement Management System (PMS). I think dirt roads are usually referred to as being paved with gravel. All PMS's I've seen are likely a lot more complicated than what you will want to deal with. Have you looked for something that uses google maps for PMS? –  Kirk Kuykendall Jun 6 '11 at 22:36
    
This is a great idea, but the title of this question cracked me up nonetheless. –  Matt Parker Jun 7 '11 at 16:33
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3 Answers 3

I'll try to analyze your use cases from a QGIS perspective:

Software that allows me to drive a specific route and store that as a working model.

There is a GPS Tool for live tracking of GPS devices. But I guess you could go with the simpler version of loading the recorded GPX files into QGIS after collection.

Download some GPS/County information to automagically set elevations, etc.

In the US, you have 1 degree (~ 30 m) SRTM data (height model) available. I'm sure there are other sources which I'm not aware of.

You can also use any WMS or WFS for your region.

Allow multiple people to use the software and share information

As long as you're not looking for a multi-user-level/permission solution, QGIS - especially together with PostGIS - can do that really well. There are solutions to keep data synchronized even if multiple people manipulate the same data at the same time.

Look at historical data over time (e.g. locations of potholes, bad ice, washboarding in a certain year or month - and view that as a report) - or some other means of collecting and storing data sets and keeping them distinct in time.

As mentioned before. I'd recommend PostGIS as a data store. For analysis of historical data, you might want to look into Time Manager plugin. But of course some simple filters (on time attributes) could work just as well for you.

Using Print Composer, you can create quite nice reports. Of course, developing the first report will take some trial and error but once your satisfied, you can save it as a template and reuse it easily.

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This paper by Koichi Yagi shows how the accelerometer in a smart phone can be used to measure roughness.

enter image description here

Update

Whatever software you end up using, I think it needs the ability to manage road condition surveys.

An important role of pavement management is prioritizing road repairs and deciding when to re-surface instead of repair. I'd like the road in front of my house to get priority, but this would not be fair to the other stakeholders (taxpayers). Therefore resources should be allocated based on where the repairs are most needed. An important factor in quantifying need is based on roughness, or the International Roughness Index (IRI). I had a summer job many years ago driving over roads with a Mays Road Meter. I'm not sure if Mays meters are still used - I suspect a smart phone accelerometer could be configured for the same purpose at a much lower cost, as suggested by Yagi.

The tricky part would be calibration. With the Mays meter, we would occasionally drive over a standard road segment of known roughness and calibrate. You would also need to do that with the smart phone. Calibration adjusts for things like tire pressure and perhaps the effect of temperature on car suspension(?).

In addition to the road roughness measurements, you also need to keep historic maintenance records. These records help to decide when it makes more sense to re-surface than to repair. (Potholes develop faster in older roads).

I haven't looked into it recently, but sites like SeeClickFix might offer at least one aspect of a solution.

AASHTO also has resources for dirt roads.

Update2

The Bump Recorder app in android marketplace looks like the one described in Yagi's paper. To truly crowdsource pavement condition surveys, I think there needs to be discussion of calibration. The report-a-pothole-with-your-cellphone has become a standard user story for cloud based municipal GIS. With apps like the Bump Recorder, perhaps more quantifiable data could be collected.

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How does this answer the question? –  underdark Jun 7 '11 at 6:42
    
Sorry, I've updated with more info. –  Kirk Kuykendall Jun 7 '11 at 14:15
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A GIS desktop and/or web solution would help you answer these question.

  • you could use something like QGIS or GeoServer as a desktop or web solution.
  • to get accurate county road data you could see if the county has a GIS department to obtain data. If not most States have a open clearinghouse GIS web site to download data or you could possible get data from your State's DOT. GeoServer can also use various API's such as Google Maps, MS Virtual Earth, OpenLayers, and can utlize ESRI data types.
  • QGIS and GeoServer are free to download and use, so you can easily save projects and share them as long as the other people have access to the data or to the internet.
  • both solutions have spatial databases that you can create, and modify as you need.
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If you want to get more sophisticated with data storage, modeling, and storing or linking to non-spatial data, you might consider storing your data in PostGIS (also free to download and use: postgis.refractions.net), which can be used in conjunction with QGIS. –  RyanDalton Jun 6 '11 at 23:09
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