Today, with GPS and mobile technology, we can easily understand that knowing the position of points of interest and objects makes for faster and more confident decisions. This includes both day-to-day activities and professional services. Transportation departments and construction companies in the USA have long been asking these all-important questions: “Can we leverage GPS and mobile technology to easily access and view critical information in order to improve all of our business processes and workflows and comply with subsurface utility engineering (SUE) mapping standards like ASCE 38-02?” “Can this technology also be used to survey, locate, and document the precise location and depth of existing buried utilities during highway construction to identify any discrepancies and reduce damages that often occur during ground-breaking activities?” “How much efficiency could be gained by connecting data collected in the field to other systems of record like ERP, GIS, and CAD systems in real-time to improve all aspects of asset management business processes?”
In January of this year, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) implemented the use of a modern cloud and mobile utility mapping solution to meet their requirements to:
1)Improve the collection, storage, and visualization of utilities buried along state right of ways.
2)Provide the ability for real-time automated bi-directional exchange of data between the field data collection devices and the enterprise’s existing GIS and CAD.
The application fulfilled a key requirement to support SUE business practices and meet ASCE 38 data collection standards during construction, repair, and/or maintenance activities. Part of this requirement was for the mobile application to be compatible with a wide variety of survey data collection devices and GPS/GNSS receivers. The solution was flexible enough to support DOT-specific workflows and the addition of data layers and attributes from various external source systems as well as allow for attributing, editing, and displaying the data collected. It was chosen to meet the needs of CDOT for its ease of use, ability to integrate with existing systems, offline and online field data collection capability, survey quality data, ease in comparing/validating existing vs. new data, and finally, any other relevant criteria determined during the solution’s setup, implementation, and testing.
The application consists of two highly integrated commercial software products: (1) a desktop application and (2) a mobile application. Its desktop application is offered on the cloud and is used to manage and display the data. Its application is a mobile data collection and display application. The cloud solution provides the ability to communicate and share data in real-time with both internal and external business or spatial source systems such as GIS and CAD applications in addition to being fully integrated with the mobile data collection app. Any data imported to the cloud can be displayed, searched for, sorted, filtered, and shared on both desktop and mobile applications. It can also export data collected in the field to external systems. When working completely offline, the data will sync when cellular or Wi-Fi connectivity is available. Furthermore, it can run on any modern Android or iOS device and can be coupled via Bluetooth to an external GPS/GNSS receiver to allow the user to capture and record mapping grade or survey grade data in real-time.
INTEGRATION OF GPS/GNSS RECEIVERS
Many DOT, construction, and municipal clients are already embedded into positioning systems that allow users to leverage a common hardware positioning source with the application, which provides a more future-proof solution. The ability to integrate high precision receivers enables clients to leverage existing hardware investments and allows them to seamlessly embed software solutions within their organizations.
The application includes tools and features for survey, photo, sketch, and form creation workflows. In order to utilize these tools inside the data collector, there are two connections needed for GPS/GNSS receivers to bring in location data:
• Bluetooth is standard for all tools
• A Wi-Fi connection is required for receivers such as the R10 and SPS985
THE OUTCOMES OF INTEGRATING WITH BACKEND GIS AND CAD
The implementation with CDOT, infrastructure companies, and SUE firms has resulted in several key findings. The ability to draw survey grade lines while in the field eliminates the need for post processing in the office. The applications provided full mobile capabilities, which may be used in real-time from the office or from the field. DOTs and other construction and engineering companies may leverage their existing GIS databases in the system for reference, including their UAV imagery. The applications provide the ability to easily attribute the utilities while in the field. The application provides the users with the ability to use existing receivers to collect the survey grade data. It has proven that real-time precision data collection and sharing of geospatial data amongst all users provide for better business decisions and reduces delays and costs associated with infrastructure construction projects. Better data quality serves the intent of identifying areas of conflict to mitigate catastrophic accidents, disruption of services, and project slowdowns that result from a lack of adequate utility data and delays in delivery of DOT’s capital programs. The benefit of the software includes the migration and sharing with cloud environments. This integration will make the most advantageous use of the available software services to the benefit of DOT’s construction and engineering projects as well as to the benefit of its consultants and contractors who are able to use the tools in the software to perform all the basic survey and data collection functions that they need to successfully deliver the project to the client.
Peter Srajer is Chief GIS Scientist at ProStar. To learn more about ProStar’s PointMan, a modern cloud and mobile utility mapping solution, visit pointman.com