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Cartegraph and Esri: Cobb County’s powerful approach to snow events

Cobb County, Georgia DOT

A major snow event can cripple a city or county. Traffic snarls or comes to a stop, and citizens worry about the safety of loved ones. As transportation departments attempt to clear roads and restore the normal flow of traffic, local government agencies get flooded with citizen requests and inquiries. In short, when a snow event arises (planned or not), effectively responding to and managing it becomes priority number one.  

Located northwest of Atlanta, Georgia, and overseeing approximately 2,500 miles of centerline roadways, Cobb County Department of Transportation (DOT) manages the second largest county-owned road network in the state. Faced with major snow events during winter 2014, Cobb County realized the circumstances’ complexity and the importance of reacting quickly and efficiently. 

Challenge

The DOT’s readiness efforts for winter weather include five staging areas for salt and pre-defined treatment routes, as well as equipment for de-icing and snow removal.  However, knowing the challenges associated with a major snow event, Cobb County DOT also required a solution that would help it efficiently plan road maintenance and allocate resources during inclement weather. The organization’s need proved threefold: 

  1. A better system for documenting the progress of spreader trucks and plows, and helping county leadership predict when specific roads would be cleared
  2. A tool for accurately planning road maintenance routes so the busiest and most crucial roads receive priority plowing and salting
  3. A process for informing citizens when to expect local streets to be plowed, salted, and restored to a safe travel condition

Solution

The powerful combination of Cartegraph and the ArcGIS platform answered Cobb County’s need. During the snow events of 2014, Cobb County used the systems in perfect tandem. By combining Cartegraph’s work and asset management capabilities with Esri’s road segments feature class and traffic counts event layer, the DOT created an effective and efficient response that: 

  1. Ensured arterial and major routes were prioritized and cleared first
  2. Prioritized services on minor roads through segment slope and traffic volume analysis
  3. Communicated live, up-to-the-minute information to citizens

Result

“Using Cartegraph route-based work orders and our defined snow routes with spatial analysis, work and asset management was successful during the event response,” said Mary Jaden, GIS Transportation Analyst. “Management was satisfied with the results. This aspect of the snow response was not a topic of the weather event debrief because it worked so well. We are actively preparing for and practicing event response for the coming winter. In terms of Cartegraph and Esri, our approach is unchanged to date.”

Jaden’s quote captures the essence of this story — effective, reliable technology is integral to the effective management of routine maintenance and work events, as well as unpredictable situations requiring swift responses. Preparation is often the difference between proactive planning and a reactive response. Cobb County DOT found the most effective tools as close as the click of a mouse and successfully responded to the challenge. Thanks to proactive planning and superior software, Cobb County is ready for the next weather event that comes its way.

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