Louisiana DOTD

Louisiana's Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) is responsible for managing the state's massive flood protection infrastructure. The DOTD's Public Works and Water Resources Division manages the inspection program for all levees, dams and reservoirs. The challenges with levees alone are particularly daunting.

Quick Summary

Challenge:

  • Over 4,000 miles of annual levee inspections to conduct
  • Inspection reports must be turned into preventive maintenance ASAP
  • Expensive GPS tablets and unreliable database systems

Solution

  • TerraGo Edge on Android tablets
  • Customizable Smart forms for levees, dams and reservoirs
  • Hosted, Private Cloud-Based System

Results

  • Cost savings of 90% over traditional GIS and GPS systems
  • Ease of use and efficiency for field workers
  • Flexible, customizable workflows for future needs

The Challenge

Louisiana's Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) is responsible for managing the state's massive flood protection infrastructure. The DOTD's Public Works and Water Resources Division manages the inspection program for all levees, dams and reservoirs. The challenges with levees alone are particularly daunting. There are over 1,100 miles of levees that must be inspected four times, each and every year. Flood risk and levee conditions are dynamic in nature, as banks erode, animals burrow, closures rust, valves wear out and pumps need repaired. So the field technology needs to be reliable and efficient to help turn inspection reports into preventive maintenance as quickly as possible. In 2015, the inspection system was a custom-built application developed by an engineering services firm. The system utilized Trimble YUMA ruggedized tablets. that would sync to a central database for reporting. Over time, the system became less and less reliable, and required a lot of troubleshooting, largely due to database synchronization failures. To truly fix the system would have meant more expensive custom development services. And that wasn't the only expensive element of the system. Each of the six Trimble YUMA hardware units, fully configured, ran around $6,000 and the annual software maintenance was around $18,000, which only provided upgrades and bug fixes. It did nothing to help solve the database issues.

"With all the expensive options in front of us for fixing the system we had, we decided it was time to evaluate newer field maintenance apps for Android or iOS. We really wanted a cloud-based system, so we wouldn't need to maintain a database server on-site. And if we could deploy an Android solution, those tablets would only cost us about $200, so the hardware would be pennies on the dollar. We could break and replace a lot of Android tablets compared to a traditional, ruggedized GPS tablet at $6,000." - Doug Taylor, Director of Levees, Dams and Reservoirs at the DOTD

The Solution

DOTD evaluated field technologies with a clear sense of their requirements. They needed a more cost-effective, reliable and user-friendly solution than the current system. While the existing mobile forms worked pretty reliably in the field, they were rigid and hard to change. The ability to customize forms for levees, dams, reservoirs and the myriad of codes was essential. With the frustration of the database issues with the legacy system, they had hopes that a hosted, private cloud-based system would give them worry-free management. At the end of the day, the system had to be super-easy to use on the job. The DOTD had been using TerraGo GeoPDF interactive map products for years. Following a technical briefing by TerraGo on the new Edge mobile data collection platform, they decided to evaluate the product further. After a series of successful field trials, DOTD knew they had found a mobile solution that met their requirements across the board for reliability, ease of use and customizability, all with a cloud-based database solution at a fraction of the cost.

“You don't want to complicate or slow down the field work. Our folks need to roll up on a spot to check for a deficiency and capture what they see quickly and accurately, so they can keep moving. We can't have any delays or technology getting in the way of the work.” - Doug Taylor, Director of Levees, Dams and Reservoirs at the DOTD

The Results

The cost savings for switching to TerraGo Edge are dramatically clear. The TerraGo Edge system enabled DOTD to replace handhelds that cost over $35,000 with multi-featured Android tablets for less than $2,000, a fraction of the cost with superior performance. They were also able to move to a flexible, annual subscription for less than 20% of the annual software maintenance that got them little more than bug fixes. The hosted solution meant they could capture inspection and monitoring data and easily share reports directly from the field. In the back office, they didn't need to worry about managing a database management system; they now had a user-friendly web interface that enabled them to share reports and data with anyone, anywhere. And users could instantly export data to other systems, like dropping an inspection point collected in Edge on Google Earth for visualization. The system's customizable forms mean the DOTD never has to pay a software services fee for modifying a hard-coded solution again. They can design their own forms, maps and workflows, flexibly changing them whenever needed to improve the speed and quality of inspections and maintenance.

“Honestly, my favorite part about TerraGo Edge is that it's just easy to use. It's easy to use in the field and it's easy to get information and reports out whenever we need them. The challenge is always how to figure out the right forms and inspection workflow. We have hundreds of codes and things change over time. With Edge, we can customize our forms and process today, and know we can adjust things in the future." - Doug Taylor, Director of Levees, Dams and Reservoirs at the DOTD

Louisiana's Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) is responsible for managing the state's massive flood protection infrastructure. The DOTD's Public Works and Water Resources Division manages the inspection program for all levees, dams and reservoirs. The challenges with levees alone are particularly daunting. There are over 1,100 miles of levees that must be inspected four times, each and every year. Flood risk and levee conditions are dynamic in nature, as banks erode, animals burrow, closures rust, valves wear out and pumps need repaired. So the field technology needs to be reliable and efficient to help turn inspection reports into preventive maintenance as quickly as possible. In 2015, the inspection system was a custom-built application developed by an engineering services firm. The system utilized Trimble YUMA ruggedized tablets. that would sync to a central database for reporting. Over time, the system became less and less reliable, and required a lot of troubleshooting, largely due to database synchronization failures. To truly fix the system would have meant more expensive custom development services. And that wasn't the only expensive element of the system. Each of the six Trimble YUMA hardware units, fully configured, ran around $6,000 and the annual software maintenance was around $18,000, which only provided upgrades and bug fixes. It did nothing to help solve the database issues.

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