The North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) recently selected DTS as one of the firms in a competitively bid procurement that now allows NCTCOG members to obtain, through the SHARE program, pavement analysis and related services in a more economical manner than having to go to RFP individually.
We have been collecting pavement and right-of-way data since our inception, and we are available to assist you with your pavement data collection, analysis and management needs now or throughout the contract.
We have extensive experience throughout the state. A listing of DTS Texas asset management clients includes Fort Worth, Plano, Arlington, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Bexar County, Duncanville, Rockwall, Lewisville, Hutchins, Sherman, Denison, Little Elm, Bonham, New Braunfels, Fredericksburg, College Station, Brownsville, Williamson County, El Campo, Bastrop County, Texarkana MPO, Dickinson, Balcones Heights, Bellaire, Galveston, Texas A&M Transportation Institute and LBJ Infrastructure Group (TxDOT). We have a fleet of vehicles available to collect positionally accurate data using GPS and other technologies.
Orlando, FL – Data Transfer Solutions, LLC. (DTS) graciously thanks the Orlando Sentinel for organizing the process to be formally recognized as one of the Top 100 companies to work for in Central Florida for 2016 (http://goo.gl/y3FtQS).
Not only was DTS recognized as being one of the Top 100, we also ranked in the Top 10 for small companies.
Without question, special appreciation extends to our employees and their families, our fantastic customers, the visionary leadership team at DTS and the communities we serve. Data Transfer Solutions, LLC (DTS), Makers of VUEWorks, is the leader in performance-based asset management software for governments and businesses.
DTS provides mobile asset collection, work and asset management and custom geographic information system software solutions. To share a comment or get in touch with DTS, just drop us a line as we look forward to hearing from you. Get in touch with the DTS team!
MAP-21 addresses all things related to federal funding and oversight of our nation’s surface transportation and transit systems. The 581 pages of the act are broken down into eight major divisions. These divisions are further delineated into titles and subtitles. Although MAP-21 deals with numerous subjects from national freight policies to how transit funding is calculated for metropolitan planning organizations, our focus today is the portion that addresses how and to what extent State DOTs must proactively manage road and bridge networks through the use of risk-based asset management planning.
The FHWA has developed a proposed rule focused on clarifying and enacting the provisions of Section 1106. Section 1106, which requires a Risk-based Asset Management System, is influenced by Section 1203(a), which establishes national standards for performance management, targets and metrics. These performance measures are intended to provide standards for the inspection of infrastructure assets, pavement rating and maintenance for the National Highway System (NHS) non-Interstate pavements and NHS bridges. Section 1106 is also influenced by Section 1315(b), which requires State DOTs to conduct statewide evaluations to determine reasonable actions or corrections that can be taken on a project basis to alleviate the need for repeated repair or reconstruction of roads, highways or bridges that frequently require attention after an emergency event (i.e. weather event).
As part of the Asset Management Plan, the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) has outlined the following process for State DOTs to use in the development of their Asset Management Plans. This process will need to be documented and discussed in each State DOT’s initial submittal of the plan to the FHWA for program certification.
The State DOT will establish a process for conducting a statewide performance gap analysis of the state’s Interstate and National Highway System (NHS) road assets. The process must also address strategies for closing any identified gaps. A performance gap analysis identifies deficiencies in the areas of asset condition, capacity, design or travel safety that are below the desired system performance level for those assets on the NHS as established by the State DOT.
The following graphic illustrates how VUEWorks can provide multiple Budget Forecasting scenarios can be run against an Asset Class (Pavement, Bridges, Stormwater, etc.) to determine the level of funding required to maintain the system in a state of good repair. The scenario can be run to see what funding is required as well as what existing funding will accomplish for the DOT’s pursuit to achieve a specific level-of-service (state of good repair).
The State DOT will establish a process for conducting life-cycle cost analysis (LCCA) for the different asset classes that collectively make up the network in order to develop a Strategic Treatment Plan (STP) for the life of each asset – from the current state of the asset until its ultimate reconstruction, replacement or disposal. A Strategic Treatment Plan looks at all possible treatments over the life of an asset to keep the asset at a performance level that is cost-effective and does not compromise the network’s capacity, safety or long-term life-cycle cost.
As illustrated below, VUEWorks can be utilized to develop a strategic treatment program for the life-cycle of an asset. The current deterioration model and condition score for an asset can be compared to its projected life-cycle based on the results of each scenario. Specific preservation or rehabilitation techniques can be specified to achieve a state of good repair.
The State DOT will establish a process for assessing risk related to a given NHS asset that could impact that asset’s physical condition, capacity or performance in emergencies or over the long-term. Risks to an asset’s physical condition or its ability to perform can include one or more factors including extreme weather and climate change, seismic activity, traffic volume, traffic loads, sub-par construction materials, time between treatments, etc. As part of the State’s Risk-based Asset Management Plan, the State DOT will be expected to develop an approach to monitor, measure and report on high-priority risks to an asset’s or network’s performance.
Here is an example of a true Risk matrix based on the requirements of MAP-21. This matrix is reading information from multiple data sources (Linked Data, GIS data and Condition Data) that is tracking each Risk category against each section of road. The matrix displays each individual category of Risk, ranks it on a scale from 0-10 and then summarizes the Road network as a whole for the DOT.
Consequences of Failure
Risk of Accidents
The State DOT will establish a process for developing, managing and updating a 10-year financial plan for the construction, maintenance, repair, rehabilitation, reconstruction or disposal of assets in the NHS. The process must allow the State to determine the estimated cost of future work based on the Strategic Treatment Plan (discussed in Item 2 above) and the estimated available budgets.
Budget scenarios can be run against any Asset for any planning horizon to establish a financial plan for each Asset Class and Asset Type. Different strategies can be employed for each asset to identify the most effective maintenance, preservation or rehabilitation plan for the asset based on the best practices employed by the DOT.
The State DOT will establish a process for identifying viable investment strategies for funding long-term operations. This is to ensure that assets along the NHS are maintained at a level that will help the State DOT achieve asset condition and performance targets in alignment with the national goals set forth under United States Code.
VUEWorks provides the ability to run budget scenarios for each Asset Class and Asset Type to determine the best investment strategies for the Asset’s Life-cycle cost. Target Deteriorations can be set for the Asset Network (Pavement , Bridge, etc.) and VUEWorks will identify the Target Deterioration that can be achieved or the Funding Strategy required to achieve these goals.
The State DOT will use a Pavement Management System (PMS) and a Bridge Management System (BMS) to analyze the condition of Interstate and NHS pavements and bridges to develop, manage and monitor targeted investment strategies.
VUEWorks provides a single, Enterprise Asset Management Solution for State DOTs. Any asset can be managed within VUEWorks and the guiding principals of MAP-21 can be implemented as part of the DOTs day-to-day Asset Management activities.
Many power utilities collect their infrastructure inspection data using a variety of techniques, sources and systems of record. Having many different repositories of digital information makes it difficult to make informed decisions about where to spend operations and maintenance (O & M) and capital project dollars. Having a “crystal ball” that aggregates all of this data into one single user interface could help these utilities make more informed decisions for their infrastructure as a whole, instead of using one inspection type to make these decisions.
VUEWorks is the “crystal ball” that utilities can use to better understand the Condition of their assets, calculate Risk and use all of their data to do better budgeting and forecasting. For example, utilities typically collect information related to their structures and spans using one or a combination of these inspection techniques:
Vegetation Points-of-Interest (LiDAR and Visual) Inspections
NERC encroachments (LiDAR) Inspections
Comprehensive Visual Inspection (CVI)
All of these inspections generate a large amount of data independent of one another and can be very useful if combined based on a unique structure or span number. Once combined, this information can then be used to determine the best way to bundle work activities to achieve the greatest return on investment (ROI).
Work bundling is a concept that has been well understood in the utility industry but not commonly practiced due to the disparate ways in which inspection data is collected and accessed from within a single agency. Many work management systems only focus on the recording of work order information related to the labor, equipment and materials used to perform a project, but do not contain strategic planning tools. These tools allow an agency to conduct “what-if” scenarios by applying different budget amounts against a planned work matrix.
Once the optimal work matrix is determined, a work plan for that utility can then be planned and programmed, executed and tracked as a project or a series of projects for that planning horizon. All costs related to that work matrix can be applied to each asset and tracked against an overall work plan budget. These actual costs are then compared to the estimated costs to refine the planning matrix unit costs that are feeding the budget forecasting model.
As a utility completes the work for that particular period, it can then record the work activities against a particular asset which determines its next activity that is due in its life-cycle. As this feedback loop is established, more cyclical work can be planned and programmed for future fiscal years and budget plans.
This concept has been applied at several utilities through the United States using an asset management software called VUEWorks. This software is GIS-centric at its core and allows users to connect their GIS data to their asset management system through the use of Esri GIS software. The utility creates a map service which is consumed by VUEWorks and provides a mapping framework from which users can view inspection data from various sources.
For example, a helicopter inspection company collects CVI data by flying next to the transmission structures and collects high-resolution imagery of any defects located on that structure or its associated span. Another vendor collects walking inspection information which includes subterranean excavations around a structure and its supports. These inspections yield different defects which may require different types of activities to correct them. This is where the concept of work bundling can be used.
Since each inspection yielded different defects, the structure or span will need to be worked on at some point. It is important that all departments responsible for line maintenance understand all of the defects present on a particular structure or span so that they can conduct all work activities at the same time. In essence, VUEWorks provides this exact information, all in one place. The utility has the ability to link all of this data together based on a structure or span ID and can then view all inspection data from one single user interface.
This concept is important because if a utility needs to de-energize a line for maintenance or capital improvements, it will want to ensure that all issues are resolved during one outage. Multiple outages cost money and this concept of work bundling is helping utilities achieve high ROIs for these projects by combining projects into one single project, instead of multiple projects.
In conclusion, the concept of work bundling saves utilities time and money through the aggregation of data into a single user repository. This information can easily and effectively be used to make informed decisions and avoid multiple outage situations. By combining multiple inspection data sets together, utilities can more proactively manage their assets cost-effectively while extending the useful life of their infrastructure investment.
In our last blog post, we introduced the concept of ADA compliance and discussed an approach to compliance through the utilization of Asset Management principles. To recap, we talked about the following steps in the process and how each step leads to a more strategic approach to ADA compliance:
Inventory – Utilizing GIS, mobile mapping and boots-on-the-ground inspection (where required).
Assess – Visually inspect infrastructure assets and quantify their compliance.
Prioritize – Develop a list of high-risk assets that need immediate attention.
Execute – Re-construct, upgrade or maintain infrastructure assets that are part of an annual work plan.
Rinse and Repeat – Execute work plan annually and re-assess the network of assets every 3-5 years to update the plan.
Step 1 – Inventory
The initial inventory of your network can be accomplished is a variety of ways, but most common methods include Mobile Asset Collection and Boots-on-the-Ground techniques. Mobile Asset Collection is a fast and cheap way to gather imagery of your street network, from which you can conduct an initial visual assessment of your ADA compliance. Many agencies use this technology to establish the Location and Characteristics (attributes) of their Sidewalk and Curb Ramp infrastructure. Knowing this information is half of the battle, since many agencies cannot answer some basic questions related to their infrastructure, including:
How many miles of sidewalk do we own and maintain?
What kind of condition are our sidewalks (asphalt or concrete) in?
How many curb ramps to we own and maintain?
Where are we missing curb ramps?
Where are our compliance issues located?
And many more…
By collecting this initial inventory information, an agency can start to develop its internal plan to gain compliance over time while developing a budget to help achieve this plan.
Step 2 – Assess
The assessment procedure involves a series of steps that are both automated and manual, depending upon the technology used to conduct them. In most cases, mobile data collection is used to conduct the initial assessment of the assets and then a more rigorous boots-on-the-ground approach is used to fill in the gaps (obscured assets) and to collect data that requires precise measurement such as slope information (Ramps) and trip hazards (Slab faults and Cracks). This approach saves both time and money because it is basically a visual assessment that identifies major (Risky) issues and highlights areas that need immediate attention. Therefore, an agency can lower their risk of litigation by taking measures that focus on short-term, high-risk assets while still providing support for the assessment of longer-term (lower Risk) assets.
The assessment process can be facilitated within the VUEWorks Asset Management system through the utilization of the Condition (Inspection) module. As the inspector views the right-of-way imagery, they can record the assessment in a configurable condition form that is designed to record ADA compliance. The form below illustrates how different Items can be inspected and divided into specific categories. Each “Category” can be further broken down into specific inspection “Items” that can contain some kind of Condition rating (1-5, Good, Fair, Poor, 0-100, etc). Each of the individual Items can then be queried individually or combined into an aggregate score by Category and then further rolled-up into an Overall Condition Index for the Asset.
Once the Condition score is generated, the resulting Condition Indices can then be symbolized in the GIS as a visual representation of the Sidewalk/Ramp condition.
VUEWorks also provides some useful tools, including integration with Esri Basemaps (ArcGIS Online) and Google StreetView.
Step 3 – Prioritize
VUEWorks provides the ability to assess Risk based on the criteria that matter to your organization. For example, would you go and fix a sidewalk or curb ramp on a road that was travelled by someone with a disability? Or, would you spend that money elsewhere? Risk can help you prioritize WHICH asset to fix and WHEN to fix it based on many different criteria. For example, an agency can look at a few different things when determining WHAT to fix and WHEN to fix it. They can observe the Consequences of Failure (What happens IF the asset fails) and the Failure Probability (Likelihood of Failure). As illustrated in the graphic below, the Consequences of Failure can be measured and rated for different categories. The Failure Probabilities can then be rated based on “How” an asset fails, or its Failure Modes. Each Failure Mode can contain a different Probability of Failure which allows the agency to understand what the Influencing Failure Mode is when determining what type of maintenance to prescribe for that particular asset.
Step 4 – Execute
The Budget Forecasting tool in VUEWorks allows user to develop “What-if” scenarios to plan and estimate the cost of projects based on the application of specific Jobs. Projects can be prioritized based on the Failure Probability, Risk Factor, Criticality Factor or any combination of the above. Once a project is involved in the plan, its Baseline Condition and the forecasted Condition can be viewed over its life cycle. All of this information can be used together to develop a Strategic Asset Management Plan utilizing the Intelligence gained for each individual asset the agency maintains.
At the end of the day, we understand that ADA compliance is a balancing act where limited resources are being applied against assets that are critical to the operation of an agency’s transportation network. Although other critical infrastructure (Pavement, Signs, Signals, etc.) usually get the bulk of the funding, it is time to focus a portion of these resources against assets that are critical to the safety of our disabled citizens.
What is the Americans with Disabilities Act?
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, State and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation. Final regulations revising the Department’s ADA regulations, including its ADA Standards for Accessible Design was published in the Federal Register on September 15, 2010 (corrections to this text were published in the Federal Register on March 11, 2011). ADA covers all state and local governments, including those that receive no federal financial assistance.
While the ADA has five separate titles, Title II is the section specifically applicable to “public entities” (state and local governments) and the programs, services, and activities they deliver. The Department of Justice (“DOJ” or the “Department”), through its Civil Rights Division, is the key agency responsible for enforcing Title II and for coordinating other federal agencies’ enforcement activities under Title II. DOJ is the only federal entity with the authority to initiate ADA litigation against state and local governments for employment violations under Title I of the ADA and for all violations under Title II of the ADA.
Who does it Affect?
Americans with disabilities and their friends, families, and caregivers
Private employers with 15 or more employees
Businesses operating for the benefit of the public
All state and local government agencies
Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that state and local governments ensure that persons with disabilities have access to the pedestrian routes in the public right of way. An important part of this requirement is the obligation whenever streets, roadways, or highways are altered to provide curb ramps where street level pedestrian walkways cross curbs. This requirement is intended to ensure the accessibility and usability of the pedestrian walkway for persons with disabilities.
What is the Difference between Maintenance or Alteration?
An alteration is a change that affects or could affect the usability of all or part of a building or facility. Alterations of streets, roads, or highways include activities such as reconstruction, rehabilitation, resurfacing, widening, and projects of similar scale and effect. Maintenance activities on streets, roads, or highways, such as filling potholes, are not alterations. Treatments that serve solely to seal and protect the road surface, improve friction, and control splash and spray are considered to be maintenance because they do not significantly affect the public’s access to or usability of the road.
Some examples of the types of treatments that would normally be considered maintenance are: painting or striping lanes, crack filling and sealing, surface sealing, chip seals, slurry seals, fog seals, scrub sealing, joint crack seals, joint repairs, dowel bar retrofit, spot high-friction treatments, diamond grinding, and pavement patching. In some cases, the combination of several maintenance treatments occurring at or near the same time may qualify as an alteration and would trigger the obligation to provide curb ramps.
Where must Curb Ramps be Provided?
Generally, curb ramps are needed wherever a sidewalk or other pedestrian walkway crosses a curb. Curb ramps must be located to ensure a person with a mobility disability can travel from a sidewalk on one side of the street, over or through any curbs or traffic islands, to the sidewalk on the other side of the street. However, the ADA does not require installation of ramps or curb ramps in the absence of a pedestrian walkway with a prepared surface for pedestrian use. Nor are curb ramps required in the absence of a curb, elevation, or other barrier between the street and the walkway.
What are Detectable Warnings? “A standardized surface feature built in or applied to walking surfaces or other elements to warn visually impaired people of hazards on a circulation path.”
ADAAG: Required on curb ramps, hazardous vehicular areas, and reflecting pools, but not on doors to hazardous areas. The warnings must be truncated domes (§4.29).
UFAS: “Tactile warnings” (uses different terminology) required only on doors to hazardous areas. Must be a textured surface on the door handle or hardware (§4.29).
As a Public Agency, How Should I approach Compliance with Limited Resources?
Public agencies are constantly chartered with conducting business and doing “more with less”. This includes achieving compliance with Federal Mandates that require infrastructure investment, but do not provide a funding mechanism to support it. In the industry, we call them “unfunded mandates”.
Many agencies struggle with these mandates for the following reasons:
The existing infrastructure is non-compliant and therefore requires significant investment to bring it into compliance.
Agencies do not have the ability to pay for the infrastructure enhancements required to achieve compliance.
Agencies are hesitant to assess their compliance because if they document problems, then they feel obligated to fix them.
Therefore, an attitude of “If I don’t know how bad the problem is, I can ignore it for the time-being…” becomes pervasive throughout many of these Public Entities. By “not knowing” how non-compliant their agency is in regards to this requirement, the agency is actually creating more litigation risk for itself. At VUEWorks, we have developed an ADA-compliance methodology that utilizes GIS and Risk-based prioritization to develop a long-term plan focused on ADA compliance.
The plan is simple and follows the typical Asset Management life-cycle approach:
Inventory – Utilizing GIS, mobile mapping and boots-on-the-ground inspection (where required)
Assess – Visually inspect infrastructure assets and quantify their compliance
Prioritize – Develop a list of high-risk assets that need immediate attention
Execute – Re-construct, upgrade or maintain infrastructure assets that are part of an annual work plan
Rinse and Repeat – Execute work plan annually and re-assess the network of assets every 3-5 years to update the plan
Next week’s blog will focus on how VUEWorks is utilized to achieve ADA compliance while limiting litigation risk to your agency …