I am interested in helping the maintenance division of the Utah DOT (Department of Transportation) come up with more innovative ways to inventory and manage their assets with new technology … and would like YOUR help. I am going to summarize some of my ideas, and if you could email me, or write to me in the comments, it would be greatly appreciated. I will then aggregate the findings in another post (if anything comes of this) so that other DOTs can take advantage of the sum of our knowledge.
I would like to utilize cloud computing, smart phones and potentially the general public to accomplish a greater picture of the condition and success of various treatments to our infrastructure. The idea is to try to use as many non-proprietary tools as possible taking advantage of new technology instead of paying for something that may work for a very specific goal but will quickly become outdated. Plus, those things take a while to develop and can be very expensive. (They’re great if you know your expectations will not change though.)
Some of my ideas:
Everyone takes photos and pools them to share information — It is now possible to have photos with location data written into background of the file so that they can be mapped. This is done by using cameras (or smart phones) that are GPS-enabled which then writes to the exif header in the jpeg. This is exceptionally useful when you’re dealing with large data sets as the information about the photo such as the date it was taken is housed within the photo itself. I was thinking that if all of our maintenance stations had cameras that could do this, they could take pictures of things that are specific to their station and upload it to a map. We then have a window into what is happening at that point in the state without having to travel there. Photos can be taken over a period of time and we can see if something works the way it is expected to. For example : A new type of paint gets used for pavement markings. The station takes a picture to show us that the lines have faded quicker than expected. Central can then try to figure out why the paint didn’t act as expected in that situation. Maybe it was the contractor, maybe it was applied in bad weather, maybe it was a bad batch of paint, etc. Also, it lets central maintenance know (perhaps earlier than without the photos) that they will have to budget to re-paint this section of road or that we may not want to use that paint again.Are other states already doing this? Is something similar being done in another industry?
Sign Inventory — I was thinking of having our signs made with QR Codes on the back. If something were to happen to that sign, a bystander could capture the QR code and tell us something about the sign instead of us trying to track down the sign they are talking about. Anyone could capture the QR code and tell us things like, “I wish this sign wasn’t blocked by some brush” or “I can’t see this sign at night.” This is also helpful because the staff at maintenance stations is small and may not know a sign has been hit unless someone reports it. How do other states manage their sign inventory and these sort of customer service events?
Again, any data about any states and their methods would be appreciated. Feel free to just leave me URLs to check out.
Thanks for your help!
I found this video very interesting and thought you might too. It applies to what I discuss in this post.
In a demo that drew gasps at TED2010, Blaise Aguera y Arcas demos new augmented-reality mapping technology from Microsoft.