Margaret Martin thought she'd hit the jackpot when her Baltimore Gas & Electric (BG&E) contact called to tell her about a tool that might help them better coordinate street cuts and repairs.

He and Martin had been struggling to satisfy the requirements of Citistat, the mayor's performance-based initiative to improve service delivery. Winner of Harvard University's 2004 Innovation in Government Award, the program requires the city's DOT not only to provide biweekly updates on the amount of new pavement laid, but to share its progress in monitoring repairs to pavement cuts made by any other entity, public or private.

BG&E and every city department, uses a different system to track projects, including different mapping programs: ESRI's ArtGIS (www.esri.com/) and GE Energy's Smallworld (www.gepower.com). As head of the DOT's engineering and construction group, Martin was beginning to despair of standardizing them.

"My dream is to have a better-managed, credible program that the political leadership buys into and can see we're going to take care of them in time," she says. "So my first question was, 'Is this for real?'"

She was referring to an Internet-based program hosted by Envista Corp. (www.envista.com ) that requires users to input five pieces of information-a project's start and end dates, its starting and end locations, and a contact person's information-into a system that looks like a standard Web browser. Each utility enters this information, which is One Call color-coded and overlaid on a map. When users log in, they see all the projects planned by all stakeholders within a particular geographic area.

"I had four young engineers in the room during the presentation, and afterward all they said was, 'wow,'" Martin says. (For insight into how technology affects a department's ability to recruit young talent, click here).

Martin plans to go online with the program in October. San Francisco has reduced street cuts by 27% and Providence Water in Rhode Island is using it to replace 25,000 lead pipes over 15 years. Veolia Water North America is also a partner.

There is no start-up fee to use the subscription-based program, which bases its annual fee on population. For example, a city with 6,000 or fewer residents pays $1,000 annually.

- Stephanie Johnston

Session: Reduce Street Cuts: Use a Web-based Application for Utility Collaboration
David Turocy
Deputy Commissioner, city of Newton, Mass.
Margaret Martin, PE
Division Chief, Transportation Engineering & Construction Division, Baltimore DOT
Rick Fiery
CEO, Envista Corp.
Mon., Aug. 18, 2008
3­-3:50 p.m.