Commercial Map Data: A Bridge to Safety and Efficiency

Posted: 12 August, 2021 | By Trimble MAPS

It's essential for fleets to be equipped with the most up-to-date commercial map data, both in the back office for operations, as well as in the vehicle for driver navigation. Commercial map data differentiates itself from consumer map data, being that it contains information specific to commercial vehicles, like roadway allowances, bridge heights, weight and load restrictions, etc. Commercial map data also helps fleets operate more efficiently, particularly during the last-mile portion of the route, ensuring vehicles have proper turn-by-turn navigation.

Trimble MAPS is committed to providing fleets and drivers with the latest commercial map data, including information on newly opened roads and bridges that can serve as a primary or alternate route, updates to road classifications or allowances, and new tolls. It’s also critical that fleets are compliant on legal roads with truck allowances, and using commercial map data this allows fleets to generate precise mileage calculations for rating, billing, and driver pay. Additionally, fleets can utilize assets better with accurate drive times and even provide drivers with safe guidance on the road.

In order to maintain this data, Trimble MAPS has an extensive team of digital cartographers, GIS engineers, a procurement team, QA analysts, and data scientists working behind the scenes to make sure we have the most updated map information possible. Trimble MAPS also has long standing relationships with state, county, and municipalities, which is important when managing thousands of data sources.  Our engineers and cartographers spend each day conflating those sources and continuously updating the map data through advanced map editing tools.  The analysts monitor millions of commercial routes with 40+ configurations along with quality assurance rules to verify roadway attributes that calculate routes, miles, and cost throughout our products and services. All crucial when making and updating commercial maps. 

Bridging the Gap

Laura Weber, Communications Specialist and Office Manager at Cline Avenue Bridge, LLC, owned by United Bridge Partners (UBP) — a company that privately builds and operates bridges without using local, state, or federal funds — understands the importance of updating commercial maps. Her company delivers transportation infrastructure for communities nationwide, putting new routes in service. Recently, Weber’s team reached out to Trimble MAPS with the news that they have reopened Cline Avenue Bridge In East Chicago, Ind, which restores a more direct route between Chicago and Northwest Indiana. 

After the original Cline Bridge was closed and subsequently demolished due to safety concerns in 2009, drivers had to find different routes for eleven years. When the new toll bridge UBP built opened in December 2020, it renewed a critical transportation link, enhancing transportation to interstates and businesses that advance economic prosperity in Northwest Indiana.

Kate Legnola, Sr. Product Manager of Map Data at Trimble MAPS, notes that giving drivers and fleets accurate map data, including information such as the reopening of the Cline Avenue Bridge, is critical so they can make the best routing decisions for their business.

The critical value this adds is that businesses are able to choose which roads work best for them and make routing decisions based on the mileage, estimated drive time, and toll cost. Being able to make these educated calculations is something you won’t find within consumer map data. 

Accurate Map Data Lets Fleets Factor in Safety and Sustainability Too 

Legnola adds, “Safety issues aren’t the only challenges solved with up-to-date commercial map data. In the case of the newly opened Cline Avenue Bridge, even if a new route does not completely replace the ones used before it was available, it might become a secondary option under certain conditions, like heavier-than-normal traffic on the primary route. Having a less crowded backup route not only helps drivers get to their destinations quicker, it also cuts down on the time trucks spend idling in traffic, which can lower emissions, decrease driver stress, and improve the safety of surrounding neighborhoods.”

Consider the environmental impact of taking the Cline Avenue Bridge from East Chicago, Ind. to the heart of downtown Chicago; it saves 13.5 miles versus the neighboring I-80/94 expressway. If each trip of the anticipated 10,000 vehicles per day saved that many miles, it could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 19,907 metric tons each year – the equivalent CO2 emissions from 21.9 million pounds of coal burnt.* More efficient trips translate to resource conservation and reduced environmental impact. 

“In an industry where profitability is measured in time and miles, drivers with the greatest roadway intelligence have the upper hand,” said Weber. “We are proud to enhance our region’s connectivity with the new Cline Avenue Bridge, which provides an alternative to traffic congestion, and we are grateful that Trimble MAPS provides powerful data that allows drivers to make informed route choices.”

The bottom line is that when new bridges and roads come into service, drivers and fleet operators need to know about it so they can optimize efficiency to save time and money while keeping drivers safe. 

*Sources: EPA – “Greenhouse Gas Emissions from a Typical Passenger Vehicle” and
EPA “Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator”

Tags: navigation road safety

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