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Wisconsin's Information System for Local Roads Expands Local Access to Data while Integrating State and Local Safety Data Systems

Summary from: Wisconsin Information System Local Roads State and Local Data Integration Case Study FHWA-SA-14-037

Publication Year: 2014


This case study, available as part of the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Integration of State and Local Safety Data project, describes Wisconsin's efforts to integrate local roadway data into their State data system.

This case study is part of a series of four. Each case study identifies a State's experience collecting local data, the challenges and obstacles faced and how they were overcome, benefits of the practices, reasons for success, lessons learned, and applicability of the practices to other agencies.

The Wisconsin Information System for Local Roads (WISLR) is an example of successful development of a safety and asset management system designed specifically to meet local stakeholder's needs. For Wisconsin, that included developing the new system in a spatial framework that differed from what was already in place for State-maintained roads, and then integrating the State roadway data with the new local roads system to create an all-public-roads database.

Before migrating to the WISLR system, Wisconsin managed the centerline mileage certification process for over 90,000 miles of local roads with more than 1,900 separate paper maps. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) entered roadway attribute information into a mainframe database accessible only to select State staff, and local agencies received paper copies of local road mileage certification data. There was enormous duplication of effort—local agencies often had their own systems for managing data on roadway miles, assets, and attributes that were not compatible with the existing WisDOT system.

WisDOT launched WISLR in the mid-1990s. It integrates spatial location, asset, inventory, and crash information for local roads using an “on/at/towards” LRS (Linear Referencing System). Users identify the road name (“on”), plus the distance and direction to the nearest intersecting street (“at” or “towards”). This location coding method gains precision by incorporating measured distances along each roadway. WISLR records Intersections at measured distances along that roadway and termini (the ends of the roadways) as the starting (zero) or final distance measurement within a jurisdiction. When a location is specified, WISLR represents that location as the unique combination of the street name and the distance and direction from the nearest intersecting road or terminus. This allows the data for each event or feature to be associated spatially with all other data from the same location. WISLR also includes a translation of State-maintained roadway location, crash, and inventory data into the “on-at-towards” LRS so that WISLR serves as an all-public-roads safety data resource. In Wisconsin, local agencies collect and own the data for roadways under their jurisdiction; the centralized system is available to all authorized users.

Key Accomplishments:

The following are key accomplishments of the Wisconsin Information System for Local Roads:

  • Consistent statewide local roadway data.
  • Cost savings through reduced redundancy.
  • Expanded use by local agencies as new modules and capabilities are added.
  • Efficient tool for safety analysis.
  • All-public-roads LRS and basemap.


The original purpose of WISLR was to serve as an aid to mandatory recertification of centerline mileage by the local agencies. While State law requires the recertification of centerline mileage, agencies can use any method or software to accomplish the recertification. Even so, compliance is above 90 percent and the vast majority of local agencies use WISLR for data mining and decision-making. The online WISLR user numbers continue to increase each year.

The State is considering upgrades to make the WISLR network representation as high resolution as the state trunk network (STN). This could include turn lanes, medians, dual carriageways and other features not currently captured at the same resolution in the WISLR for the STN making the system even more useful.


Susie Forde
Data Management Section Chief
Wisconsin Department of Transportation

Kelly Schieldt
Statewide Local Road Coordinator
Wisconsin Department of Transportation

Stuart Thompson
Federal Highway Administration

Publication Year: 2014

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