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GIS vs. CurbIQ: What Are the Differences?

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GIS vs. CurbIQ: What Are the Differences?

Proactive management of curb space is one of the best things cities can do to improve urban mobility for all modes of transportation. We’ve written about this before and shown how quick and easy it can be for a city to get started by digitizing their existing curbside regulations. But once you’ve done that, what’s next? How can you best summarize this information to gain insights on how curbside restrictions change over time, sort out whether the existing allocation meets your needs, and make changes where existing rules don’t align with local priorities?

Since the resulting curb layer is geospatially referenced, you may be tempted to crack open your favourite GIS application and take a look, but traditional GIS platforms have a couple of major limitations that make it difficult to work with curbside regulation data.

GIS does not work well with temporal complexity

Curbside regulation layers are complex spatially. It’s very common for a single segment to have multiple rules that apply to it – e.g. a no parking zone for an entire block face, but with a taxi stand and courier delivery zone placed right in the middle. 

Image by SharedStreets

GIS does not work well with non-tabular data sets

Working with data in tabular formats like CSVs and shapefiles is the bread and butter of traditional GIS. But curbside regulations are typically in JSON formats with more easily expandable data structures.

Image by SharedStreets

When dealing with curbside data JSON data structures are required to capture all of the detail related to curbside regulations – where they apply, what uses are allowed there, when they are in force, how they relate to other overlapping regulations, and more. These files can be converted to tabular structures to allow for backwards compatibility with legacy systems, but the resulting number of attributes can grow to become unwieldy to work with for areas with complex curbside regulations.

A better way

To help cities overcome the issues with traditional GIS platforms and leverage digitized curbside regulations we developed a set of simple tools purpose-built for managing curbside data. These cloud-based solutions are designed to be immediately familiar to anyone with prior GIS knowledge while being easy to use for non-technical folks as well.

The CurbIQ platform includes dynamic legends to accommodate new and unique types of curbside regulations (on-street patios, anyone?) and automatically filters regulations to surface the highest priority regulation. CurbIQ tools also include filters to quickly view regulations for different times, days, and months. To understand how regulations change over a single day we’ve added a panel with a visual summary so it’s easy to see when restrictions change throughout the day on any street.

Headshot of author
Adam Wenneman

Adam is an experienced Transportation Planner at IBI Group working in transportation master planning, regional transit planning, parking policy, and curbside management. He first read ‘The High Cost of Free Parking’ as part of his thesis work on commercial vehicle parking policies and hasn’t stopped thinking about the curbside since.