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ECONOMICS Last modified on November 11, 2019

On the map

The utilisation of geographic information system (GIS) mapping technology has helped Reno- Tahoe International Airport become an economically competitive hub, writes Esri’s Terry Bills.

Airports play an increasingly important role in connecting economies, strengthening global supply chains, and driving regional development.

Owned and operated by the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority (RTAA), Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO) currently serves over four million passengers annually and delivers more than $3 billion in economic impact to the region.

It expects these figures to rise in the years ahead, with traffic exceeding 6.5mppa in the near future and cargo growth fuelled by companies like Tesla.

Knowing that an efficient, well-connected airport can deliver a competitive advantage to the region, RNO is positioning the Reno-Tahoe area as a central distribution hub to help drive greater economic development in the western states.

This requires capital improvement funds and, in order to receive this funding from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), RNO must also comply with the FAA’s Airport GIS programme.

As a result, RNO needed to collect precise survey information of airfield data in a digital format. So, the airport used a satellite-based air traffic control system called NextGen, designed to gather the digital data required to support this transition. This data would give RNO a head start on gathering the digital GIS data needed to plan for new regional economic opportunities.

The data RNO collected for the FAA’s Airports GIS programme provided the foundation for a series of immediate applications which were designed to support the FAA and wider airport and airspace operations: UAS Restricted Airspace, Airport Height Restrictions, Airport Land Use, Emergency Flood Analysis, Airport Surface Radar coverage analysis, and more.

After a series of stakeholder meetings were held with the properties division, facilities and maintenance, engineering and planning, air service, and operations and finance, the team was able to further refine the airport’s future needs for an enterprise GIS.

Wanting to minimise hardware and software costs, RNO used Esri’s ArcGIS Online cloud-based location intelligence software to deliver both data products and applications to the airport.

At the centre of the GIS applications is a portal through which all other applications and data can be accessed. Any asset or object on the airfield or within the terminal can be identified with its corresponding information. And because it is distributed through ArcGIS Online, it can be accessed anywhere at any time by anyone with appropriate permissions.

The future value of GIS proved itself when RNO developed a new long-range airport Master Plan, which called for a $1.6 billion modernisation and capital improvement to support growing passenger and cargo volumes.

The airport created a separate ArcGIS Online Group for the Master Plan team and all data previously collected became the foundation for their planning activities, supported a public comment application, and provided all stakeholders with efficient and consistent exhibits to be shared among the team as they moved through the review process.

The Master Plan has been submitted to FAA for approval, and the airport is positioning itself for a new larger role in the regional economy.

“The implementation and application of GIS at the organisation will improve the overall business process by connecting departments and making information more accessible,” says Marily Mora, president and CEO Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority.

“Ultimately, this will allow us to serve our customers and stakeholders better than ever before.”

About the author

Terry Bills is global transportation industry manager at Esri, an industry leader in geospatial and location intelligence technology. Visit go.esri.com/esri-airports for more information about the company.

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