Displaying local parking information in Google

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The City of Highland Park Manager’s office has recently required the
need to visually display each city owned parking lot in a map format and
publish these maps to the city’s website. Although their original
methodology of publishing PDF maps of these parking lots would initially
work, the city believed that the organization of these maps could
become confusing when combined with all of the other content on the
city’s webpage. After multiple meetings with the Geographic Information
System (GIS) Department the city decided the best way to organize the
information was to create a Google Map containing a point location for
each city owned parking lot. From there, the parking lot data points
would then contain all of the necessary space designation counts for
each parking lot as well as a link to a corresponding PDF maps. The
benefit of doing it this way was to keep all parking lot information
centrally located and easy to find.

The first phase of the project involved the creation of PDF maps for
each parking lot using existing parking data that was created within the
GIS. The maps were then field checked and marked for errors by the
local city staff. Once all of field checks were completed the data
within the GIS was then edited to reflect what was current in the field
and PDF maps of each parking lot were created.

After the PDF maps were finalized, the next step was to create a KML
(Key Markup Language) file that could be used to integrate with Google
Maps or Google Earth products. The creation of this KML file involved
building a model in ESRI’s Arc Catalog application which took existing
GIS data and converted it to a usable KML file format. The most
important function of this conversion was to ensure that the labels that
were used to display the parking lot information in Google Maps were
readable in a clear and concise manner.

The first KML point file that was created was tested for
functionality within the Google Earth application. Users of this product
could click on a desired point and gather information about the total
amount of parking spaces in a selected parking lot and what designation
was assigned for each parking space. In addition, the Google Earth
application allowed for an accessible link to a PDF map for the specific
parking lot that was selected as well as the ability to print these
PDFs for individual purposes or meeting presentations.

Because Google Earth required each city employee to download an
application to their computer it was decided that Google Maps was a
better alternative since it worked from any internet browser and allowed
the same functionality. The last step was then performed that entailed
placing the Google Map link for the parking lots on the city’s web
server in order to make it easily accessible to all city employees and
residents.

In conclusion, the end result of this project created a more
centralized approach to representing the city’s parking structure on the
internet allowing it to be an important decision making tool for the
Intra-City Parking Commission and the residents of the City of Highland
Park. It can also be noted that interdepartmental collaboration between
city departments and GIS allowed this project to be a success.

Link: Highland Park Public Parking Map