Web GIS serving the intelligent Transport System


Web GIS serving the intelligent Transport System

Parviz Tarikhi



Modern technologies utilization particularly information technology development, establishment of active networks, using computer systems in implementing operations, and promotion of the culture of applying new technologies are amongst the policies that the Iranian Transportation and Terminals Organization (ITTO) affiliated to the Ministry of Roads and Transportation follows up since 1994 when the Ministry’s title modified from Ministry of Roads to the Ministry of Road and Transportation according to the law ratified by the Parliament in July 1994. The approval put more responsibility and functions on the Ministry in controlling and management of routes and transportation issues. This is basically in support of the 4th National Master Plan of Iran for Economic Development. Road transport share in Iran in comparison to other types of transportations is very tangible. It is because of the specific social and economic conditions of the country in recent few decades.

Benefiting new technologies ITTO’s Development, Maintenance and Utilization Department of Roadway Network duly established a data base about roadway situation, technical foundations and auxiliary installations. The data base has been set up in such a way that could be easily up-dated for all the necessary alterations, modifications and new developments. In order to reach this goal through contribution of ITTO and Deputy for Roadway Maintenance and Provincial Affairs Coordination of the Ministry of Road and Transportation, the roadway identification and auxiliary installations plan was carried out.

In the mentioned plan, data gathering by using GPS connected to qualitative computer geographic coordinates of roadway network based on roadway type and specifications have been undertaken and for each 200 meter a spot was marked. Also at the stage of field statistics, geographic coordinates of technical foundations such as bridges, tunnels, water fronts, retaining walls, intersection, etc. have been allocated and through specific forms metadata related to technical foundations have been collected at Road and Transport Office headquarters and added as the next data layer. Taking into account the auxiliary installations including fuel supply stations, bascules, service units, hygienic, telecommunications, service providing and technical services in addition to geographic coordinates registration, all other information required at field statistics stage was collected and added as extra data layers.

The objective of implementing the plan was to establish a data base comprising of roadway identification and auxiliary installations in a GIS environment by utilization of which and adding diversified data layers, statewide transport officials would have access to appropriate tools for well managing maintenance, construction and development of roadway network, organizing and streamlining auxiliary installations, disseminating information to road users, locating auxiliary installations, tourism and welfare service complexes and increasing safety traffic index at roadways as well.


Development Procedure

To set up an efficient Web GIS for ITTO several strategies was proposed to enable the system planners to provide a favorable implementation. The strategies were technically and knowledge-basely assessed and manipulated so that the requirement of ITTO project could meet the minimum cost and time. In the image 1 the Web GIS development hierarchy for ITTO is shown. It is based on 8 major phases that starts with the requirement analysis and concludes with the use and maintenance of the Web GIS system.

ITTO Web GIS project aims at disseminating Iranian road information through the Internet for easy data accessibility. The requirement analysis phase was performed carefully through interviewing potential users. This phase produced two critical lists of information that is:

  1. Needed functions; the required functions are the basic visualization functions such as Pan, Zoom, and more advanced functions such as object identification, spatial query, and shortest path. Users are capable of applying these functions to view road information, and peripheral constructions like gas stations and so on. 
  2. Available or needed geographic data; ITTO captured several layers of road information using GPS. The project used only 25 layers of information including police stations, restaurants, gas stations, mosques, etc.

The information achieved through the requirement analysis phase was fed directly to the next phase – Conceptual GIS Design.

Once the required data identified the data model that describes the entities and their relationships were designed. Since, the data is delivered through a central server, and users have access to raster formats, Medium Client architecture was chosen to provide users with access to interactive maps.

Selecting suitable software was important for implementing the project successfully. Software was evaluated on functionality and performance, and independent of the hardware and operating system. Considering required functions, cost, and efficiency ArcIMS 3.1, and MapObjects IMS were selected for further evaluation. Web GIS requires specific hardware configuration. Since the volume of transferred data is huge, the speed of Internet connection is a key factor. Most of the data are sent from map server to clients, that by the way the transmission speed has been identified to be more than 128kbs. Based on a pilot project and the experience gained through similar projects, a dual processor computer with 512 MB Ram was selected for the project.

The primary purpose of design and construction of database phase of the Web GIS development process was to specify how the Web GIS performs the required applications. Database design involved defining how graphics would be symbolized in terms of color, weight, size, symbols, and so on, how graphics files would be structured, how non graphic attribute files would be structured, what was the active layer, in which scale should the layers be exposed, how GIS products would be presented based on map sheet layouts, report formats, etc., and what management and security restrictions required to be imposed on file access. Selecting a source (document, map, digital file, etc.) for each entity and attribute, setting-up the actual database design (logical or physical design), defining the procedures for converting data from source media to the database, and defining procedures for managing and maintaining the database were the respective functions that led to the project aim.

The database design was conducted in parallel with the pilot study and benchmarking processes. Actual procedures and the physical database design could not be completed until a specific GIS hardware and software was selected while at the same time GIS hardware and software selection cannot be finalized until the selected GIS can be shown to adequately perform the required functions on the data. Therefore, the three activities, design, testing, and hardware-software acquisition was conducted concurrently and frequently.

At Web GIS System Integration phase the Web GIS hardware and software was acquired and data conversion was completed. The objective of this phase was then to integrate different components of the hardware and software, to test them to make sure they work as expected, and to initiate all procedures necessary to use the GIS.

The initial requirement analysis phase contained some applications of fairly complex nature. However, the majority of initial applications was straightforward, and can be implemented using the basic functionality that is part of the Web GIS software. More complex applications were not supported by the basic functions of Web GIS but have been programmed. Ease of use, user-friendliness, and reducing the data transfer volume were the critical issues faced in the development. Image 2 shows the user interface that was developed using HTML, Java Script, and Java as well.

The final phase in implementing ITTO’s Web GIS was to put the system to use. In this phase user support and service as well as system maintenance were taken into account and has been programmed.


Web GIS system at work

Web GIS development processes faces new challenges such as technology innovations, huge data transfer rate, and the users who are not specializing in technology. Due to high data transfer rate from server to client, high Internet band must be selected while it is the same for selecting processing system with high effectiveness. It is the privilege of the system that the users can access to road data with no time and place limitations. At the same time, travelers can plan and manage their trip efficiently.

ITTO’s Web GIS was designed and put at work late in 2002 and is accessible through http://www.iranroads.com. It is a user friendly system that works based on the functions including zoom in-out, pan, shortest path, move, media, distance, selection and clear function. The information about the provinces and their limits, structures, road types including freeways, highways, main and secondary roads, rural roads, urban roads and transit roads is available through the site both statically and graphically. Foundations like clinics, mechanical stations, gas stations, telephone, welfare, police stations, mosques, religious places, terminals and TIR-parks are available also to users and can be located easily. The system has been set up in such the way that potentially could be developed to support also the railway information in the future. 

ITTO’s Web GIS and the services that it provides for the variety of users by the net bring Iran its first Intelligent Transport System. The site is easily available globally to all users in Iran and abroad. For facilitating of access to the services of the system for different users the software is presented in both Persian and English versions that the user can easily switch to one which is appropriate.    



Parviz Tarikhi is a space science and technology expert, freelance journalist and technical writer based in Iran. In course of his cooperation with the United Nations Committee of Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN-COPUOS) since 2000, he worked as the Committee Bureau member in capacity of Second Vice-Chairman and Rapporteur in 2004-06. Write to him either in care of GeoConnexion or directly at the e-mail address ptarikhi@isa.ir .






The caption for image 1 [WebGIScycle.jpg]:

Web GIS Development Hierarchy (image source: ITTO)


The caption for image 2 [WebGIS1.jpg]:

The User Interface (image source: ITTO)



The caption for image 3 [WebGIS2.jpg]:

Zoom-in view of the Web GIS user interface (image source: ITTO)


The caption for image 4 [tto-headquarter.jpg]:

Headquarter building of ITTO (image source: ITTO)


The caption for image 5 [Chalous-road.jpg]:

Chalous Road (image source: O. Omid)


The caption for image 5 [Tehran.jpg]:

Tehran highway (image source: tehran24.com)


November 2006






Note: Apart from any fair dealing for the purposes of research or private study, or criticism or review, this publication may only be reproduced, stored or transmitted in any form or by any means with the prior permission in writing of the author.




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