Departments of Public Works staffs throughout the country are out in the field every day, taking care of our public infrastructure. Typically, their (digital) data is back in the office. It does not have to be. Sometimes departmental data needs to be freed from the confines of local servers and Local Area Networks; it needs a breath of fresh air.
In Gloucester, Massachusetts, this historic city also has historic infrastructure to manage, which makes it all the more critical for staff to have access to plans and documents at any location where work may occur.
To enable Gloucester’s Department of Public Works (DPW) workers to access drawings and plans for specific locations when outside the office, AppGeo developed a web application that is customized and optimized for mobile devices, primarily tablets.
“The tablet application has significantly reduced the amount trips and phone calls I have to make to get the utility information I need. Anything that makes my job easier I’m gonna like, and this tool makes my job easier,” said Bill Gilliss, Gloucester DPW, Superintendent of Utilities.
Simplicity in design was a primary objective. With just four touches of the tablet screen, DPW workers can locate themselves on the available base maps, turn on the utility system of interest, identify critical system feature attributes, and open digital drawings and as-built plans. Workers can also place maintenance notes on the map while in the field.
Behind the scenes and as prelude to application development, for the past several years Gloucester has been proactive in electronically capturing water, sewer and drainage utility data from contractors and from archived as-built drawings in order to create the most complete and authoritative utility picture possible. These investments are complemented by the development of parcel and address data by the GIS Department.
When it comes to infrastructure, the public expects uninterrupted service and quick fixes to problems. Gloucester DPW staff now can access location-specific critical information while in the field, and enhance their ability to provide the high-quality service their community expects.
By David Breeding, Assistant Project Manager, and Tom Harrington, Director of Marketing