Launch Slideshow

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Pushing overdrive

Pushing overdrive

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    The non-destructive testing unit of the Montana DOT recently purchased two ground-penetrating radar units, used in conjunction with falling weight deflectometers, on which the radar units are mounted. Photo: Montana DOT

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    Chesterfield, Mo., used two ProXR pack systems to inventory its 2638 traffic signs. Initially, information was collected by walking from sign to sign. To save time, workers rode a mountain bike from sign to sign, speeding collection rates by 64%. Photo: City of Chesterfield

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    This map shows each plowing or salting route, and what pass the trucks are on, enabling managers to maximize crews and equipment during winter storms. Photo: Hamilton Township

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    Since so much information is gathered on each parcel or permit area, the extent of damage to assets can be quickly calculated. Photo: Accela Inc.

Coordinated collection

The Product:
GMS-2

What it is:
A small, handheld, wireless GPS receiver that includes a digital camera and offers sub-foot accuracy.

Where to get it:
Topcon Positioning Systems Inc., www.topconpositioning.com.

The User:

Robert Grant, senior engineering specialist—survey, public works engineering, Bainbridge Island, Wash.

How he uses it:
To collect data for capital improvement, designing roads, and for sewer upgrades.

Benefits:
Can be easily used by one person, even a volunteer or intern. The built-in digital camera enables users to add photos to field data about an asset. The city recently added all hydrants to its database using the GMS-2.

The wow factor:
The city is working toward bringing CAD (used by engineers) and ESRI (used by planners) information together into one comprehensive database. Collecting this data is the first step toward developing a comprehensive GIS.

Pack ‘n go

The Product:
GeoXH

What it is:
Handheld asset-data collector delivers sub-foot GPS accuracy and Bluetooth and wireless connectivity.

Where to get it:
Trimble Navigation Ltd., www.trimble.com.

The User:

Jason Ridgway, senior engineering technician, Chesterfield, Mo.

How he uses it:
The city recently upgraded to the GeoXH after using the product's predecessor to inventory signs, trees, and pavement. The city is using the data to comply with GASB 34 financial reporting standards.

Benefits:
The parks department, for example, used the product to record the species, condition, and location of more than 2000 city-maintained trees.

The wow factor:
The city inventories an average of 65 miles of street each year as well as 2600 sign supports and 4400 sign assemblies. A lot more time can be spent in the field collecting a lot more data, which means less time in the office and far fewer paper-to-computer record errors.

Snow fighters

The Product:
Route Management Program

What it is:
Geographic information software that automates route tracking, service requests, complaint tracking, and street opening permit management. Where to get it: National Geomatica, www.nationalgeomatica.com.

The User:
Richard Balgowan, director of public works, Hamilton Township, N.J.

How he uses it:
To plan and track snow and ice control operations for and during winter events. The township also plans to use it for leaf collection and stormwater management activities.

Benefits:
Because it analyzes historic data involving the township's response to weather events, the software helped cut salt-spreading time from as much as four hours to 1½ hours and plow time from 36–48 hours to 24 hours.

The wow factor:
Because data about number of passes made is immediately entered into the system's GIS street map by the field crew, employees in the main office can see how well the department is fighting a winter storm.

Permitting simplified

The Product
Accela GIS

What it is:
A Web-based application that integrates geographic data and analyses into the permitting process. Users can access geographic representation of all land-use, zoning, and infrastructure information associated with parcel, permit, inspection, or plan.

Where to get it:
Accela Inc., www.accela.com.

The User:
Michael Schonlau, GIS coordinator, Omaha, Neb.

How he uses it:
To locate and attach property parcel information to permit applications. It also offers “proximity alerts,” which raise flags in the application process if the permitted area is in a restricted area or where special fees exist.

Benefits:
Everything can be accessed online, plus it offers users a graphic representation of the status of the permitting process.

The wow factor:
Users can leverage the vast library of GIS map layers to speed up permitting and inspection, and to better communicate with other departments and provide better service to the public.