GIS Team Develops Life-Saving Lake Houston Zone Map
With warm weekends and summer holidays quickly approaching, the waters of Lake Houston are beckoning Houstonians to enjoy a day on the lake. Tragically, Memorial Day Weekend consistently ranks among the most deadly holidays for boating safety incidents across the state. A new map developed by the Planning and Development Department Geographic Information Systems team could mean the difference between life and death for Lake Houston users.
The GIS team worked with District E Council Member Dave Martin, multiple city departments and safety agencies to create color-coded, zoned maps of Lake Houston. By knowing your zone, residents and recreational lake users can accurately report the location of boating safety incidents. The colored zones also help reduce response time by dispatching first responders to the boat ramp nearest to the incident. This map will be posted on metal signs at all public docks/piers and offered to private communities for installation within their own private launch areas.
Geographic Information Officer Larry Nierth said the project was prompted by a safety incident on Lake Houston. A resident observed the incident occurring on the water and called 911 from the shore. Response time was delayed because emergency responders were dispatched to the caller’s home, which didn't have a ramp or method to launch a recovery vehicle.
When approaching the Lake Houston project, GIS Supervisor Ryan Mize drew inspiration from a previous mapping project for NRG Arena. Andrew Sauls created the NRG data and Mize created an emergency response zone schematic of NRG Arena.
“Dispatching to specific locations on water without using buoys is something we have never done before in the City of Houston,” Nierth said. “The map is the tip of the iceberg. The back-end computer logic is the guts of it all. We’re very proud of this project because it’s a perfect example of how you can prototype GIS technology to enhance an existing dispatch system and potentially save lives.”
Read more in Council Member Dave Martin’s Lake Houston Safety plan press release.
Coming Soon: Three New BCycle Stations
It’s bike month and what better way to celebrate than to hop on a BCycle bike! Bike-sharing is perfect for leisurely rides around the city and a less expensive and healthier option for commuting to work and school. As the city’s premiere bike share program, Houston BCycle has quadrupled in size and popularity over the last four years to 123 bike stations and 800+ bikes throughout central Houston, university campuses, and the world-renowned Texas Medical Center.
The bike share expansion project, administered by the Planning Department, is funded by a $3.7 million federal grant and is close to completion. The City’s program operator, Houston Bike Share, has worked jointly with the department to oversee the purchase and installation of the bike stations.
Recent bike station installations and three upcoming installs are prime examples of how the stations enhance the utility of the City’s broader bike share network. These bike stations are strategically located to serve as an additional mobility option for frequent trips between city buildings; recreational and mobility use along Brays Bayou Greenway Trail and city parks; and accessibility to METRORail line and bus stops, new housing, schools and nearby destinations.
• S. Braeswood & Linkmeadow METRO Bus
• Quitman Near Northside METRORail
• N. Braeswood & Kirby METRO Bus
• Mason Park
• Levy Park
• Bob Lanier Public Works Building
• Houston Permitting Center
• The Exchange at Hardy Yards
More importantly, the installation of these bike stations advances the goals of the Houston Bike Plan to make Houston a safer, more accessible, gold-level, bike-friendly city. Celebrate bike month and ride a BCycle today!