Open Data on the Open Road

When Chris Trott, the founder of a local dual-sport motorbike group, wanted to explore some new routes with his fellow adventure riders, he called Grey County’s Business Solutions Manager, Jody MacEachern, looking for a map of county roads without winter maintenance.

“We were trying to get information from Google Maps, but it doesn’t tell you what’s maintained and what’s not,” said Chris. “As adventure riders, we’re always looking for new routes through rougher and quieter roads, and we want to ride legally, but it we often run into challenges getting access to information about potential routes.”

“We do display all roads on our GIS website, but only highways and county roads display when the whole county is visible. We don’t explicitly identify roads as having no winter maintenance, since you would have to understand the street class codes, which you could do by going through the meta-data – but that’s not really something most people can or want to do when they come to our GIS site,” said Jody.

But when Chris explained what he was looking for, Jody was able to create a custom web application showing him just the data he wanted, using data shared through Grey County’s newly established Open Data portal, opendata.grey.ca

Jody’s process for creating a custom map for Chris was straightforward: Logging into ArcGIS Online, he created a new (empty) map and added content by searching Grey County’s open data by searching for “grey roads.” Changing the visible scale to draw all layers and filtering by only those roads with no winter maintenance (street class = 4), he highlighted these roads using thick purple lines and named the roads layer so Chris and other riders would be able to easily understand what they were viewing. He then shared the map as a web mapping application.

“We were able to finish the entire process before Chris was off the phone,” said Jody of the process.

Jody later enhanced the map to show the county roads network in grey underneath the highlighted ‘no winter maintenance’ roads and added Grey County’s aerial imagery to show connectivity where some of those roads become unopened road allowances. He also changed the web application to one that allowed users to switch the base maps and imagery, as well as searching by road name.

“The fact that Jody quickly shared the data and gave us a clickable link, that was brilliant,” said Chris. “We don’t always get that kind of quick, positive response when we ask for this information from other organizations. He understood what we were trying to do and the resources his provided were outstanding.”

 “Using our open data to help Chris was fun for me and useful for him,” said Jody. “We’re hoping to expand the process we used with Chris into a tutorial that we can customize and expand, depending on the audience, and share with local students to show them the possibilities with GIS.”

For more information about opendata.grey.ca, please contact:

Ashleigh Weeden
Communications & Community Engagement, Connected County Initiative
ashleigh.weeden@grey.ca or 519-372-0219 ext. 1255

For more information about Grey County’s GIS tools, please contact:

Jody MacEachern
Business Solutions Manager
jody.maceachern@grey.ca or 519-372-0219 ext. 1273