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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.