Research and Implementation of a GIS Based Sidewalk Assessment System

Although sidewalks and trails act as the foundation infrastructure for active modes, they are often secondary concerns to many municipalities in terms of maintenance. With limited budgets and resources, there is often greater emphasis to focus investment towards primary infrastructure (such as roadways and bridges) which typically are backed by greater operational information and condition investigations that are used justify use of public funds. While the focus on primary infrastructure is justified, this often leaves very little funding or consideration for secondary infrastructure, like sidewalks and trails.  This issue of limited funding to sidewalks and trails, combined with potential high public use and yet, limited background data, increases the risk of lawsuits from issues such as like trip hazards. Lawsuits that can be quite costly to municipal agencies and detrimental to public perception of safety and mobility. These practices of minimum funding and high liability lead to an inconvenient truth; that sidewalks / trails carry a high level of liability and that many agencies are not able to focus on them enough. One reason for the omission in funding and priority is that municipalities sometimes struggle with how to approach condition rating their sidewalk and trail networks. There can even come a point where condition rating alone is not enough. Simply put, this can place agencies in a situation of having the data, then asking what’s next? To address these problems, the City of St. Albert set out to not only develop an acceptable condition rating system, but also work closely with its GIS and IT departments on how to best represent it. The result was a network level condition rating that allows the city to have its sidewalk network represented in 10 m sections, all condition rated in a range of 1 to 5. 1 being good condition, 5 being poor condition. This system has allowed the City to better coordinate capital funding to ensure that as much work is accomplished in approved capital programing while being responsible with tax funds with a high level of transparency.


Newstead, B., Schick, D.

Session title

Spatial Dimensions of Asset Management (S)


Asset Management Task Force


Asset Management
Maintenance & Construction







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