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City of South Portland, Maine: Connecting design & construction to operations with a digital twin

August 27, 2021

Until recently, it hasn’t been possible for Tim Parks, senior CAD technician at the City of South Portland, Maine, to sit down at his desk and see the operational history and the 3D model of a pump at the Long Creek Pump Station facility in one place, even though the city maintains both sets of information.

South Portland is not unique in its need to access information about the assets and infrastructure they maintain across departments. Many owners find their data siloed between operations, construction, design and maintenance. When Tim approached Atkins and DTS, both members of the SNC-Lavalin group, to support him in breaking down some of the silos, we were excited to dig in because we have been developing new ways to connect data from within the VUEWorks asset management platform to 3D models. One approach to breaking down the silos is to connect information about a facility through a digital twin, or digital representation of the physical asset. The digital twin can be built in a way that connects many different things into a single place.

Figure 1: Data to Twins for End-Users

Most operators use some form of asset management system to keep tabs on items they feel most need to be tracked and maintained. Asset management systems are usually tabular in nature, displaying information about an asset inside a facility only as a name, with relevant information pulled from a database and displayed in a table. When new construction is completed, the owners are provided with intelligent 3D models that bring efficiency to the construction process, as well as contain unique information about the objects and assets being installed. These models often mature from inception through design and can be updated to contain information critical during installation. This information is often lost sometime between installation and operation/maintenance.

Figure 2: VUEWorks Facility Module highlighting a single asset with attribute information

If an asset is represented in a 3D model and is being tracked inside an asset management system, then the question Tim and many owners are asking themselves is: Shouldn’t there be a way to see all this information in one place? Operations and maintenance staff are often faced with a need to locate and work on assets without any idea where they are inside a facility beyond, at best, a room location. Bringing the digital models and asset information together provides immediate benefits to operations teams and is the initial step on the path toward a more accessible digital twin.

We began the process with South Portland by setting data and attribute standards. Because South Portland maintains a set of digital design and construction models of their facilities and assets, the asset information had to be extracted in a format that enabled it to be tied to the corresponding assets within their 3D models. Data standards make it possible to connect the virtual versions of the assets to the same asset within the VUEWorks database. Atkins developed a web-based platform that generates a digital view of the 3D models with a specific link for each asset inside the model, zoomed and highlighted, so users can see an asset in its location with the surrounding space represented. We were then able to create a digital twin of the facility by connecting the digital representation of assets within the facility model to the asset information Tim and South Portland had provided.

Figure 3: A view of the 3D model on the web with a specific asset (pump) highlighted

For more information:
Chris Harman
Technical Director
Atlanta, GA, USA
+1 678 247 2619
Email Chris

Strategic Asset Management Planning: why parks need a plan, too

July 14, 2021

Much of the global population is acutely aware of climate change, and corporations have initiated efforts to reach NetZero emissions. It may come as no surprise that one of the most passionate groups in the asset management community are those in the Parks and Recreation sector. From converting large-area mowers from gas to propane to installing computerized irrigation systems for water conservation, the goal is to provide clean, safe and green spaces for communities. Accompanying this goal is a unique set of assets: playgrounds and swimming pools, boat docks and botanical gardens, pavilions, sports courts and zoos. These assets don’t maintain themselves; they require careful assessment and planning.

A strategic asset management plan (SAMP) combines asset management objectives with initiatives that provide the direction required for lower-level planning. This approach is gaining traction in the parks sector, and there may be more similarities than differences when compared with other asset management groups.

Signs are a good place to start. Most departments have some signage responsibilities—stop signs, speed limit signs, mile markers and caution warnings—that require maintenance and are often subject to normal wear and tear. Exposure to the elements can impact reflectivity, visibility and structural stability. While the signs may have different messaging, the general condition assessments and upkeep of these assets are effectively the same.

Safety requirements are common among multiple asset groups. Hiking trails and playground equipment, much like sidewalks and crosswalks, must be accessible and usually ADA compliant. This can present its own set of challenges, also not exclusive to the asset type. Regular inspections and preventative maintenance are standard approaches to meeting and maintaining these requirements, regardless of the department or group to which they apply.

Some park assets vary greatly from other assets: aquatic centers, sports fields and cemeteries often fall under park jurisdiction. In addition to following state reporting requirements for herbicides and pesticides, departments take special care to track pool chemicals and fertilizers, as well as maintain natural and synthetic turfs. Landscaping, mowing and irrigation all must be scheduled and completed to keep green areas well-maintained and inviting for residents.

Strategic asset managemenent plannng for parks

One of the most unique parks assets is trees. Unlike other standard assets that depreciate over time, trees increase in value with age. Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Boise, Idaho, are two cities whose parks departments truly value their trees. By reversing the deterioration curve within VUEWorks®, the appreciating value of these assets can be tracked through the health, species/genus and diameter at breast height (DBH)measurements. While this model doesn’t apply to all assets, it can be applied to antiques, art and historic sites.

Ultimately, the overall goal in asset management is to enable data-driven decisions. Budget planning is an important piece of every successful parks group. Unlike toll roads and utilities that receive fee-based funding, many parks departments receive very limited funding from seasonal programs. Therefore, additional considerations must be taken when planning for annual spending:

  • Size (sq ft) of the facility, field or amenity
  • Safety compliance requirements
  • Use frequency level
  • Maintenance needs and costs
  • Environmental impacts/water conservation
  • Impacts on local wildlife

Many of these considerations are applicable to other asset types as well. While not all assets are equal, all are important to how efficiently and effectively a department can manage and maintain them. Allocating adequate funding to these maintenance efforts is a critical part of a SAMP. This may require unique configuration of the digital asset management solution to account for appreciating assets and a granular level of tracking for chemical components. Having an application like VUEWorks® that can be configured for unique requirements may be the first step toward success.

Choosing the right asset data collection vendor

June 4, 2021

Three years after the City of Plano, Texas collected pavement condition data, the Data Transfer Solutions (DTS) Mobile Asset Collection vans, or MAC vans, were back on the streets in north Texas. Because pavement distresses increase over time, it’s common practice to recollect condition data periodically to ensure roads are well-maintained and necessary funds are made available for improvements.

The Lonestar State is no stranger to MAC vans—more than a dozen cities, counties and municipalities rely on the fleet to collect and provide revised assessments every few years. These slow-ride routes provide valuable images of pavement distresses, right-of-way assets and GPS attributes that are crucial to capital improvement planning. The updated data is then imported into asset management software. Plano had a system in place for several years and only required data collection to keep it up to date. For some agencies, however, procuring an asset data collection vendor is done in parallel with developing or refining their Strategic Asset Management Plan.

MAC van

Selecting the right software can be tough. Software licenses are an investment, and if properly planned, configured and maintained, the return on investment is high. When possible, consider how many other departments will have asset management needs in the future. While some software is limited to certain asset types, DTS’ VUEWorks solution is asset agnostic. This can be an appealing option when a city’s utilities, parks and roads departments are all in the market for a solution.

Configurability and expandability are also important to bear in mind during the software selection process. VUEWorks is a configurable, commercial off-the-shelf solution with tons of growth potential. If the stormwater group needs to be added to a workflow, while the engineering department is ready to implement, and when warehouse inventory needs to be tracked, assigned and returned, VUEWorks can accommodate the expansion. If non-spatial building assets need to be collected and condition assessed, VUEWorks includes mobile applications, too.

An often overlooked benefit of contracting full services with a data collection vendor like DTS is the level of familiarity with a clients’ assets, processes and workflows. When budget constraints present challenges, project managers can ease the headache by developing a phased collection or implementation approach to space out the spending, minimizing the overall impact. It also opens the door to additional expert consulting resources within larger companies with multiple service capabilities, like DTS’ parent company SNC-Lavalin, a fully-integrated professional services and project management company, with offices around the world. This may be beneficial for custom development, business intelligence and decision support tools, GIS consulting, asset management program planning and more.

The bottom line: there is more than one approach to asset management. Considering requirements early in the process like data collection, planning, workflow, maintenance and analysis can ensure expectations are met, once in place. DTS can consolidate these services, creating a one-stop-shop for asset management needs.

DTS starts work on drone mapping and data collection contract in Houston

April 5, 2021


Houston, Texas, USA: April 5, 2021 – Data Transfer Solutions (DTS), a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group, was awarded a $3.8 million, three-year contract with a two-year extension option by the City of Houston to provide aerial mapping, imagery and condition data collection using drones. Under the contract, the Company is using the technology to capture 2D and 3D images to produce enhanced large-scale mapping and light detection and ranging (LiDAR) and imagery to assist the City in asset planning, scheduling and maintenance.

“Using drones equipped with technology like high-resolution cameras, LiDAR and multi-spectral imagers, we can capture data at a high resolution, with greater accuracy and at a lower cost than conventional airborne sensors,” said Allen Ibaugh, President, DTS business unit. “Our reports will support data-driven decision-making regarding the City’s infrastructure. They will also help the City make the best use of its financial resources by providing faster data collection and processing, reducing the required man-hours for ground inspections and reducing risk to field personnel.”

DTS provides drone data collection and mapping for geographical and topographic mapping, as well as disaster damage assessment, extracted resource and construction asset management, infrastructure corridor surveys and vertical structure inspections.


About Data Transfer Solutions
DTS ( is a leader in asset management, geographic information systems and transportation solutions. From geospatial development on the Esri platform to cutting-edge .NET and Javascript techniques, we create customized technology and provide our clients solutions that automate their worlds and organize their data. DTS is a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group.

About SNC-Lavalin
Founded in 1911, SNC-Lavalin is a fully integrated professional services and project management company with offices around the world. SNC-Lavalin connects people, technology and data to help shape and deliver world-leading concepts and projects, while offering comprehensive innovative solutions across the asset lifecycle. Our expertise is wide-ranging — consulting & advisory, intelligent networks & cybersecurity, design & engineering, procurement, project & construction management, operations & maintenance, decommissioning and sustaining capital – and delivered to clients in four strategic sectors: EDPM (engineering, design and project management), Infrastructure, Nuclear and Resources, supported by Capital. People. Drive. Results.

For more information:
Maureen Nayowith
VP, Communications
U.S. & Latin America
+1 303.214.0840

Data Governance: Helping Save Lives and Money

March 11, 2021

State departments of transportation (DOTs) spend large sums of money creating, managing, analyzing and reporting on disparate data in their effort to maintain their transportation networks. At the same time, they struggle to use assimilated data to improve asset performance and public safety.

A well-defined data governance framework with data standards tailored to an organization and its business drivers will bring efficiencies in data management, data analysis and regular reporting, which, in turn, allows for timely and accurate decision making impacting public safety. Data governance improves data management—utilizing the data as an asset in a continuous effort to save lives and money.

The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) recognized the need for an enterprise-wide approach to data governance in its effort to streamline the process of consolidating disparate sets of data from different business units within the organization. Even after standardizing certain data elements, complications in geospatially aligning the roadway inventory, right-of-way asset data, key performance data and project resource and cost data persisted. ODOT needed a structured, tailored data governance program to address existing issues and deficiencies.

Like all state DOTs, ODOT is required to provide extensive data sets to the United States Department of Transportation for key certification reports such as the Transportation Asset Management Plan (TAMP), Model Inventory Roadway Elements (MIRE) and Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS). ODOT invested much time and money developing data warehouses and reporting systems for trend analysis, annual work planning and project reporting that drew solutions from many of the same sources. However, ODOT’s IT staff still spends time scrubbing the data to meet the federal reporting requirements. Recognizing that data, and all the information technologies and labor supporting it, is arguably the third most expensive asset a DOT maintains after roads and bridges, ODOT decided to address many of the issues and inefficiencies, and resulting skepticism in some data, by developing a data governance program.

ODOT contracted Data Transfer Solutions (DTS), a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group, to tailor and implement an enterprise data governance program that consists of:

  • A DOT-wide data governance committee co-chaired by two deputy directors and a chief data officer
  • A top-down, bottom-up data governance framework that defines the organizational business drivers such as critical success factors and regulatory reporting requirements; enterprise data governance policy, standards and procedures; and best management practices and standard operating procedures for each stage of the DOT’s defined data life cycle
governance odot graph framework

ODOT Tailored Data Governance Framework

  • Creation of an Office of Data Governance, including the creation of a chief data officer and a data analyst position
  • Development of a Data Governance Strategic Plan that provides a roadmap for objectives and guidelines to support the program
  • A data normalization proof of concept that implements data governance standards at the source systems as much as technologies will permit; develop standardized application programming interfaces (API), representational state transfer (REST) services, and data extract, transform, load (ETL) routines into a new data warehouse using the newly defined enterprise data element standards; and developing standardized report formats with business intelligence (BI) queries for data analysis, data visualization and reporting
governance odot graph framework
To support and guide data governance, DTS developed and continues to implement a tailored data governance framework and program with ODOT. The framework establishes guidelines and rules of engagement for business and management activities related to enterprise data, and formalizes data life cycle interactions between people, processes and technologies to support positive outcomes.

Applying data standards throughout the data life cycle creates consistencies and improves data quality, as well as reduces the amount of time and effort required to assimilate data for a report or simple analysis—providing higher confidence in the results the data suggests. Data business owners normalize their data sets and develop standard procedures for ensuring data quality throughout the data life cycle. These efforts will allow efficient and consistent data creation and assimilation, enabling decision-makers to make timely, data-driven decisions that impact public safety and the public treasury, helping save lives and money in Ohio.

Listen to find out what steps you need to take to ensure efficient and consistent data creation and assimilation, and then discover the benefits and impact of making timely, data-driven decisions.

For more information, contact:
John Pregler, Management Solutions Consultant, Orlando, Florida. Email T: +1.407.587.4054
Soraya Saflicki, Sr Business Analyst, Orlando, Florida. Email T: +1.407.587.4060

How good partnerships impact implementations

January 25, 2021

The Village of Huntley is a growing community on the northwest periphery of Chicago’s suburbs. After substantial population growth over the last few decades, the Village management needed to develop and implement some creative tactics to ensure the quality of life for the residents in the retirement community.

With a knack for change and the ability to adapt and continue their forward-thinking mindset, the Village creatively partnered with consultants and incorporated new technology to support their CIP projects, communication and operations management. Among those partnerships was Ruekert & Mielke, Inc. (R/M), whom the Village worked with for many years building their GIS system. Part of this project included a phased transition from a standard GIS system into VUEWorks with the assistance of Data Transfer Solutions (DTS). DTS has been a partner and supporter of R/M technology services since 2009. Staff attributes the success of the VUEWorks implementation to the trifecta relationship between DTS, R/M and the Village.

Many factors impact the success of software implementation. One major component often overlooked is getting “buy-in” from the staff at all levels. In the Village’s case, R/M tributes the success of this project to the public works director and assistant director’s ability to prioritize their staff’s needs by involving them in the preliminary planning processes during the VUEWorks implementation. Having staff attend workshops together to talk through their duties, workflows and naming conventions, established the buy-in the Village needed to make this a successful project. It also instilled trust between staff and management, staff and the consultant, and comradery among each another.

The configurability of VUEWorks software played a major role in the Village’s success, benefitting all parties involved. VUEWorks configurability allows the Village to easily replicate the existing naming conventions and workflows for each department, making the transition a less disruptive experience and more intuitive for staff. The ease of use when configuring the application made it easy for R/M to quickly set up and adjust the application’s structure when needed. Once the application was set up to capture all of the departments’ activities and implemented into staff operations, the public works managers worked with R/M to refine the application’s structure to report on the information they needed.

Fine-tuning the Village’s VUEWorks application is an ongoing process that involves developing new reports, detail forms and dashboards to better capture and display current and historic information for management’s use for analysis and informed decision making. VUEWorks presents many opportunities for the Village. This has led to so many initiatives across departments that they are working with R/M on a five-year technology plan to continue to phase out their goals at a pace manageable for their staff and budget. As R/M continues to assist Huntley down this road, they have witnessed the interest and ownership of the project grow within the Village.

“DTS has been a valuable behind-the-scenes asset. Their quick responsiveness with customer support, documents portal, informational webinars and training opportunities helped ensure a smooth transition into VUEWorks asset management software for our client.”

  • Village of Huntley population 29,305
  • R/M implemented GIS in 2012
  • 2014 – 2017 integrating asset management processes into daily operations
  • 2018 R/M started VUEWorks implementation workshops and site development
  • 2019 Village’s site went live for three of their five departments
  • 2020 R/M continues to support Village site configurations and workflow consulting