Overview and challenge
The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is tasked with building and managing infrastructure for a rapidly growing, vibrant West Coast city. In 2015, Seattle voters passed a $930 million levy to fund the repaving of roughly 200 miles of city streets. While this was a positive development, city officials anticipated that SDOT would need to coordinate heavily with city agencies and utilities on the upcoming repaving projects to minimize traffic congestion in and around the city. SDOT managers also knew they would need a better solution for coordinating the various agencies such as Puget Sound Energy, Seattle City Light, telecommunications firms, and other agencies that build in the right of way. Currently, Seattle has more active construction cranes than in any other U.S. city, and citizens were frustrated with the construction disruptions, according to Scott Kubly, Director of SDOT. He faced the challenge of balancing the city’s infrastructure demands with the need to minimizing impacts on mobility for all modes of transportation, maintaining access to residences and businesses, and protecting city assets.
Kubly began looking for a new project management tool that would display all the projects happening within the city to identify conflicts and opportunities for coordination between public and private agencies. For example, if two utilities planned on working in the same area the tool would alert project managers of the opportunity to coordinate on scope and schedule in the hopes of saving construction costs and time. “We needed an application that could identify conflicts and opportunities for us automatically, and would be really nice to look at so people would use it,” Kubly says.
SADA was the successful bidder to replace SDOT’s non-functional right of way management system, given its business and product development experience designing an application with similar requirements for the Chicago Department of Transportation. SADA Systems customized the interactive mapping application, dotMaps, which went live in Seattle in August 2017. Public and private entity project managers can use dotMaps to search and view all planned city and private projects as well as events and paving moratoriums. Users can also find information on the type of project, agency, project manager, and schedule for each project. Beyond this, dotMaps analyzes the data to identify which projects overlap in time and space, called conflicts, and which projects overlap in space only, called opportunities. The main uses for dotMaps today include:
- Project managers overseeing any city infrastructure projects use dotMaps to see what other projects are nearby and identify potential conflicts and opportunities for coordination. dotMaps also alerts project managers of new projects that overlap with theirs for conflict resolution.
- SDOT coordination engineers use dotMaps to create groups of projects in specific geographic locations where there is a high density of development. The coordination engineers use dotMaps to contact all affected project managers and create a construction sequence. Doing so reduces construction times and impacts on the public and saves money for the involved agencies.
- Users can see SDOT construction events in the system, indicating road closures, detours and more.
The dotMaps platform is hosted on the Google Cloud Platform via microservices using Kubernetes. dotMaps has full integration with App Engine, Compute Engine, Cloud Storage, BigQuery, and Cloud SQL.
Within a short timeframe, dotMaps has improved communication across agencies regarding transportation construction projects and serves as a valuable mechanism to minimize the negative effects of road work on the public:
- In the first two months of using dotMaps, the SDOT Project Coordination Office has already generated $800,000 in cost savings from better coordination between projects. Projecting $7 million in cost savings within the first year.
- SDOT can manage projects to comply with a new five-year moratorium on construction after a road has been repaved.
- Finally, SDOT has drastically improved its ability to coordinate projects. Prior to deploying dotMaps, SDOT was able to coordinate roughly 3% of city streets. Today, Seattle is coordinating 100% of city street projects.
“The system we had before didn’t have a friendly user interface, and it was hard for project managers to update information,” says Kubly. “We know that as SADA makes changes to the product we will benefit, and we’re already envisioning how dotMaps can help in other areas such as for budgeting and making strategic decisions with elected officials and community leaders.”– Scott Kubly, Director, SDOT
To learn more about dotMaps, visit https://www.dotmapsapp.com/.