About a year ago, the traffic engineering division in Anchorage had a problem. They had to keep track of 65,000 street signs, and the outdated paper-based tracking system in place violated the municipal code that required the department to maintain accurate, up-to-date records of its traffic-control devices. They needed a cost-effective way to digitally inventory the significant supply of signs and signals.

The team filled the gap with GeoResults Mobile custom GIS software, developed by Olympia, Wash.-based Marshall, and iX104C3 mobile tablet PCs, from Austin, Texas-based Xplore Technologies. Thanks to a $1.5 million state grant—and cheap labor by 11 summer interns hitting the pavement with the tablets—Anchorage was able to catalog the signs quickly. Their efforts began in June, and the data collection was completed by the end of August.

According to associate traffic engineer Lee Coop, the effort has made the city's sign management efforts much more effective and flexible.

“One of the biggest deals is our ability to track costs related to a specific asset,” he says. “Another is being able to schedule maintenance.”

Now that the legwork is done and the signs inventoried, Anchorage can move to the next phase: implementing a comprehensive asset management system.

Custom reflective signs

The company can make highly reflective signs—using high-performance material from 3M—to your specifications. The diamond-grade signs can be made with a self-adhesive material, or laminated to a metal substrate, in sizes up to 26 in. Choose from an array of colors to create up to six-color combinations. The resulting product is durable, and visible at night or in severe weather conditions. Almetek Industries. www.almetek.com.

Graffiti-fighting towels

TWL-200 premoistened towels safely and quickly remove paint, ink, permanent markers, and other types of graffiti from signs and nearly any other non-porous surface. The treatment chemical is nontoxic, nonflammable, odorless, and environmentally friendly. The towels feature two textures: one side has an abrasive but nonscratching surface to remove tough, ground-in stains; and the other is an absorbent material to soak up liquid and leftover residue. SEI Chemical. www.seichemical.com.

Reflective post panels

Enhance the visibility of any sign with these reflective panels, which attach to any new or existing U-channel post. The product consists of a highly reflective, diamond-grade material in red, blue, yellow-green, and red/white striped versions. Each measures 336 inches and includes mounting hardware. Lordon Inc. www.britesidepanels.com.