Web Mapping 101: Everything You Need to Know


In your job as a planner, we know you're often fielding basic questions about public transit. We hope this Remix Primer blog series offers another resource as you educate your constituents.

An Introduction to Web Mapping

For transit planners, the first step of transportation planning involves understanding transit services that are already in place. As many planners know, the process of learning about the supply and demand of multiple systems can often be lengthy, expensive — and necessary. This is where web mapping comes in.

Created with a geographic information system, web mapping opens a new world of information to transit planners. Web mapping collects a vast amount of data from various agencies and organizes it in an interactive map, cutting down the time it takes for planners to harvest important information. By connecting planners with powerful insights about their community, web mapping broadens the ways they can serve the public.

What is Web Mapping?

Web mapping generates online maps that are created with GIS — a geographic information system. Planners can explore the geographic content by interacting with the data layers that are embedded in the web map. These maps can be shared via various online mediums. In this example, the US Forest Service uses GIS tools and broad data sets to create interactive maps of US National Forests that can be used by the public or other government agencies.

Web maps are versatile resources that typically include elements such as:

  • A reference basemap that provides basic context of the area
  • Data layers that display unique data points in a given area
  • Tools that manipulate each layer and perform various analyses

By starting with a basemap and using unique map applications — like Transit solutions — to layer in area-specific data sets, transit planners can more easily visualize and model the ways their transportation systems can grow.

Web maps are highly interactive, making them the perfect tool for answering important stakeholder questions, conveying trends in the area to fellow agencies, or understanding the way people move around a particular area. Even better, these versatile maps make it easier than ever to connect with data remotely. GIS data can be:

  • Easily shared with teams and stakeholders
  • Accessed with a wide range of web browsers
  • Accessed with smart devices

Continuous and Multiscale Web Mapping

When it comes to transit planning, having flexibility in the way data can be viewed and analyzed is essential. Web maps offer this versatility by working across multiple scales. Continuous and multiscale web mapping broadens planners’ horizons by:

  • Allowing users to zoom in to see additional details relevant to their planning needs
  • Enabling a zoom out feature for understanding the broader context of the data
  • Providing continuous panning and zooming capabilities for flexible viewing

Web maps have no edges, allowing planners to pan over a limitless area — all of which can be zoomed into for an increased level of details. For example, a transit planner can explore the way the public moves in a certain area of the city and quickly compare it to an adjacent neighborhood, city, or state by panning over as desired.

Real-Time Feeds

Another important quality of web mapping is its real-time capabilities. Data layers can be constantly updated with the latest information. When planners update their own data layer, maps referencing that particular data layer are updated as well. In transit planning, data often shifts quickly  — making the real-time element of web mapping a must-have for informed decision making.

Who Uses Web Mapping Tools?

Web mapping provides a wealth of information for various planners, including city and transit planners. Especially when paired with web applications, digital maps give transit agencies the power to reimagine their systems. Web mapping is also valuable to consultants, who may use GIS data to analyze accessibility, help create new plans, sketch transit routes, and more.

Ultimately, web mapping helps planners and consultants tackle massive amounts of data in a short time frame with easy-to-use layers and a wealth of easy-to-access data points.

Web Mapping and Transit Planning

The growing availability of open-access web technologies has made it easier than ever to use web mapping as a part of the transit planning process. The benefits of web mapping for transit planning include:


In its earliest iterations, installing and operating web mapping systems put financial strain on planners. Now, GIS tools are low-cost or free and have become increasingly more user-friendly. As the barriers to utilize web mapping tools lower, planners are able to digitize their transit systems and elevate processes from planning to public outreach.  

Improved Insight

One way that planners can utilize the insights that live web maps provide is through visualization. Web mapping enables planners to create visual maps with environmental, socioeconomic, and transit-driven data. These maps make it simple for transit planners to explore new solutions and make important decisions about how to change.

Another important capability of web mapping is spatial analysis. Spatial analysis explores the way that citizens navigate their city through location-specific data. This data can inform transportation modeling, which helps planners learn more about how their proposed plan might impact the community.


Web mapping not only allows transit planners to improve their service, it can help them communicate better with the public. GIS can be utilized to create public-facing portals that open the flow of communication between transit services and those they serve.

How Remix Can Help You Utilize Web Mapping

Collaboration has always been valuable for transit planners. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for online connection has only increased.

Fortunately, web mapping creates a space for collaborative mapping that can connect even the most widespread teams and fuel transportation projects during the development phase. Increasingly, transportation planners are setting broader community goals to optimize their city. They are focusing on values such as sustainability, equity, and safety. To attain these goals, collaboration between agencies has never been more necessary— or achievable.

When it comes to maximizing the benefits of public transit, Remix makes it simple with solutions like street map making software. This software allows planners to create concepts for street-level improvements, such as bus speed, reliability, and accessibility. Remix Streets makes it easy to add and access web mapping data layers like:

  • Safety data
  • Curb inventory
  • Bicycle networks
  • Transit origin-destination
  • Movement counts

When you are connected with the treasure trove of web mapping data, you can make informed decisions about your transit systems, without bogging down your team with weeks of legwork. To learn more about how Remix can help elevate your transit planning, schedule a demo today.