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Pocket GIS Approach

Clients' Needs

Inspection, Inventory and Maintenance

Pocket GIS FAQ's
















































Pocket GIS Approach

Clients' Needs

Inspection, Inventory and Maintenance

Pocket GIS FAQ's





Echelonís Pocket GIS Approach - An Effective Tool for
System Inspection, Inventory and Maintenance

The vast majority of civic staff are trying very hard to cope with ever increasing demands for improved efficiency and effectiveness in managing civic assets. This is now accompanied by requirements for better financial reporting via GASB34. In many cases staff have to do it all with no increases in resources and in some cases reductions in resources. Within this context do any of the following statements ring true?

  • "We don't have up-to-date inventories yet we need these inventories if we are to address the needs of GASB34."

  • "We can't seem to get staff to inventory civic assets yet have them continue with their day-to-day activities."

  • "We have cabinets full of maintenance activity records yet we sometimes have difficulty in producing annual reports and analyzing maintenance staff performance and productivity."

  • "Like hundreds of cities we have purchased various Asset Management programs yet we have never fully implemented them because we just don't have the resources."

  • "We have spent a lot on GIS but with regard to traffic and transportation inventories and maintenance we are receiving limited benefits."

Inspection, Inventory and Maintenance
The most advanced, yet cost-effective Handheld/Pocket PC tool for municipal patrol, inspection, inventory and maintenance is now available to address many of the above needs. Now, you can address GASB34's needs, reduce litigation costs, improve traffic operations and safety, improve assignment of CIP priorities and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of operations and maintenance efforts - using your own staff. For the first time ever you can have access to proven, powerful, easy to use, yet cost-effective GIS based solutions for urban infrastructure patrol, inspection, inventory, and maintenance.

In many cities City staff are considered the eyes and ears of the City. When they see a problem they are supposed to report it to the appropriate agency/division. Once staff are equipped with Echelon's Pocket GIS approach whenever staff see "a problem" be it Graffiti, or a pot hole,  or a defective traffic signal, or a burnt out street light, or a broken water pipe, etc. they can record the problem. Once back at the office these "problems" can be electronically transferred to the correct division. Once the work is done, the problem is now tagged as resolved.

In addition to responding to and redirecting the results of scheduled patrol activities you can also build work requests and work orders in the field, as you are looking at the problem. Back in the office these work requests or work orders are transferred to the Work Management programs.

Some of the inspection and maintenance modules recently made available by Echelon include:

Download your work orders to the (Pocket PC) PPC units, assigning individual work orders to specific teams. Record all on-street maintenance activities and automatically upload results to your asset data bases and work management programs.

Inspect the outdoor dining areas for permit compliance, to improve public safety, and increase revenues.

Inspect News Racks to improve aesthetics, public safety, and revenues.

Inspect properties in managing the weed abatement program.

Conduct inspections of sidewalks, curbs, parkways, gutters, WC ramps, etc. Use the data to determine maintenance priorities and schedule maintenance programs.

Improve the management of your Permits program, increase revenues, and improve public safety.

Record graffiti removal activities, identify hot spots, provide information for policing and better managing your system.

With the Echelon Pocket GIS system approach staff can not only record patrol activities, they can inspect and inventory traffic signs, signals, pavement and curb markings, street lights, wastewater and water systems, trees, bus stops, pavement conditions, parking systems, etc.  They can use the same hardware and software to maintain assets. They can also integrate this computer system into their existing asset management or work management programs.

Echelonís Pocket GIS Inventory and Maintenance system approach is designed to allow staff to inspect and inventory civic assets by simply pointing to the asset location and recording the appropriate detailsóby menu selection.  For example, simply point to the location of a No Parking sign and record the sign code (by selecting from the sign images from the Caltrans or MUTCD library).  Record the time, date, direction, and speed restrictions (if any), sign reflectivity and visibility conditions, sign size and material, sign facing direction, pole type and condition, the primary street, address, heading, street back, x and y coordinates or latitude/longitude, and user comments.











You can also simply point to an existing asset on the Cityís GIS map thatís stored on your Hand-Held or Palmtop Computer and record maintenance activities for that asset or you can  point to a section of roadway and record the fact that all regulatory signs in that roadway section, or just the R28ís, have been upgraded and have this reflected in the maintenance history. You can point to where an asset is located and add a new asset to the data base or change inventory details for existing assets. Just turn on the Palmtop PC or Hand-Held PC and start recording inventory or maintenance activities.

If the City has a GIS with parcels and pavement/curb layers then you can inspect and inventory most assets without needing a GPS unit yet still obtain GPS coordinates. Or we can connect to any GPS unit that outputs NMEA protocol.  This latter approach is used if you want to locate the assets within a few centimeters or your GIS only has roadway center lines.  If you donít have a GIS, you can still inventory your assets accurately using available TIGER network files and GPS or satellite imagery as a base map.

Once the assets are inventoried and transferred to an Asset Management program and the Cityís GIS, you can store the assets in GIS shp file format on Palmtop Personal Computers (PPC) or Hand-Held Personal Computers (HHPC). Simply point to the asset to record maintenance activitiesóthe maintenance activities and history are now available for automatic transfer to your Asset Database program.  You can also transfer work orders from a Work Management program to the HHPC/PPC so that you can log maintenance activityóin order to analyze staff productivity and resource usage. Once you have updated your GIS layers you can transfer these layers back to the PPC/HHPC so that field staff are provided with the most up-to-date data.

Echelon has developed and field tested software modules to inspect, inventory and maintain traffic signs, traffic signals, street lights, curb and pavement markings, parking spaces and meters, pavement condition, trees, and water/wastewater systems.

This is a turnkey solution.  You don't have to write a program or line of code or depend on the priorities of another division or department. Just turn the system on and start collecting data. If you have a GIS we can load most of your GIS layers into the Pocket PC or HHPC.  We can also load your street names and staff names so that field crews will never have to write street names or staff names again.  There are few chances to get things wrong. If you don't have a GIS we can still provide effective solutions.

The Echelon Pocket GIS based approach consists of Hand-Held and/or Palmtop Computers loaded with multiple inventory and maintenance software modules and GIS maps (layers) of the City. Also included is the Desktop software to transfer the inventory and maintenance data to your asset management programs. In addition, the purchase price includes training of City staff in the use of all systems.

In summary, you now have the tools to patrol, inspect, and inventory your assets, log maintenance activities on those assets, report on maintenance activities, keep the maintenance history up-to-date and even keep the inventory up-to- date.

FAQ - Responses to Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Echelon Pocket GIS Approach?

It is an integrated, comprehensive system for inspections, inventorying and maintaining municipal assets such as traffic signs, traffic signals, curb and pavement markings, parking, facilities, street lights, sewer and water systems, bus stops, trees, etc. The system supplied by Echelon includes: Hand-Held (HHPC) and/or Palmtop Personal Computers (PPC) loaded with inventory and maintenance software and the Cityís Geographical Information System (GIS), Desktop programs to integrate the collected data with various asset management programs, Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) receivers (if they are required) and on-site training of City staff in the use of the programs and the conduct of inventory surveys. The system can even be customized to include the names of city streets and staff membersóso you donít have to type in anything. If you donít have asset management programs Echelon can also provide these. This is a complete turnkey solution.

What is unique about the Echelon Pocket GIS Approach?

  • For cities with a GIS you can now inventory your assets without having to use GPS for x and y, coordinates, yet you will still obtain x and y coordinates that fit with your existing GIS.

  • You can code or record an asset or asset condition by selecting from a set of pictures or images. The entire Caltrans and Manual on Urban Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) libraries are available as images. You select the sign code by pointing to the correct sign. We use the same visual approach to log pavement distress condition, trees, signal heads and faces, parking meter heads, pavement markings, water valves, hydrants, types of catch basins, street light poles and luminaires, traffic controller modules, etc.

  • You can "snap to" a line or point, which allows you to put curb markings directly on the curb or multiple signs on the same pole.

  • You donít have to enter any dataósimply select from menus (this reduces data entry errors).

  • You can make multiple selections from a pick list or a menu. This can be useful when identifying multiple problems with signs or signals or recording pavement condition defects, etc. You can also make certain data items mandatory.

  • If you need a GPS unit you can choose from any of the various GPS receivers that output NMEA protocol. You can also use laser range finders, bar code scanners, and digital cameras to assist in inventory activities. You can also make field sketches.

  • Our system can also automatically transfer collected field data and maintenance activities to the databases and work management programs (CarteGraph, Hansen, Sussex, Maint Star, etc.) to keep the maintenance history for the individual assets up-to-dateóautomatically.

  • The system is so fast that you can actually accommodate an entire city of up to about 250,000 population all within a HHPC or Palmtop PC. For larger cities you can break the city into multiple areas or zones. Any size city can be stored on the HHPC/PPC.

  • We donít simply provide hardware and software. On-site training is part of the delivered system price.

How is the system used for maintenance?

Once an inventory of individual assets is complete, the inventory is stored in an Asset Management program as well as in the Cityís existing GIS, or a GIS supplied by Echelon. The GIS layers representing the assets are then transferred to the HHPC/PPC. When maintenance staff are required to work on an individual asset they simply point to that asset (on the HHPC/PPC) and log the appropriate maintenance activities. When they work on an entire corridor they simply identify the primary and intersecting roadways (by pointing to the intersections) and log the maintenance activities. At the end of the day or week, the maintenance activities are uploaded to the Desktop Computer, where they are then saved for reporting. The maintenance data is also automatically transferred to the asset databases and Work management programs. The maintenance history for individual assets is automatically updated. The work management program can also produce work orders and download these to the HHPC/PPC for execution. The programs that interface the HHPC/PPC to the Desktop computer can also be used to report on maintenance activities so that you can analyze the efficiency and effectiveness of the maintenance staff.

What data is collected on the maintenance logs?

Asset ID#, Work Classification and Description, Asset Description, Staff names and Number of team members, Date and Time at start and finish for each task, Work Order number and Work Order details, Authorization, Location, Sketch/Drawing, Completion status, Equipment/Supplies used and Photo Logs (where applicable). Many cities will not require all these details.

What data is actually collected in the inventory?

Note that all assets are located in terms of x and y coordinates. Street Address (e.g. 612 Main St.), Travel Direction, Cross Street Back and Intersection Quadrant (where required).

Signs: Sign code, up to two sets of sign restrictions (including days, hours, direction, and speed), sign visibility and reflectivity, sign facing direction, sign size and material, pole type and condition.

Signals: Pole ID, type and condition, information on signal heads, faces, lenses, back plates, visors, street name signs, street lights, arms, controller cabinet(s), detectors, pedestrian heads and push buttons, and equipment conditions.













Pavement and Curb Markings: Marking type, color, "paint" material, and condition.

Street Lights: Pole ID, type and condition, base, luminaire and arm type and condition, and lamp wattage.

Parking: Meter ID number, meter type, space type, marking type and condition, parking limits, and number of spaces.

Sewer/Water: Manholes, catch basins, mains/laterals, valves, meters, hydrants, pump types and conditions, material types, access, facility sizes/depths/elevations, etc.

Trees: Tree type, height, girth, leaf coverage and condition, bark and branch condition, irrigation system and ground cover, and photo ID, where required.

All of the inventory data can be "exported" as ASCII files or transferred directly into various CarteGraph program modules.

For sign inventories what sign libraries are available?

Both the Caltrans and MUTCD sign libraries are available. One of these will be loaded into the sign inventory module so that identifying the appropriate sign code means simply pointing to the right image or picture of the sign in the HHPC/PPC. Other sign libraries can be loaded as required.

How will Echelonís Pocket GIS based inventory approach benefit the City?

Echelonís approach will benefit the City in that you will have a complete turnkey system available to conduct inspection, inventory and ongoing maintenance activities. If the City has available personnel you can do your own inventories for significant cost savings. You can also improve maintenance management and improve efficiency and effectiveness of operations.

How do you locate assets in this system?

Assets are located in terms of x and y coordinates by pointing to the location of the asset on a GIS based map which is stored in a HHPC/PPC. Assets are also located with GPS receivers. Accuracy levels can range from a few centimeters to less than 3 meters. The accuracy will depend on the asset. Note that assets are also located in terms of street name and address, travel direction, and street back.

What happens if you donít have a GIS?

Echelonís inspection, inventory and maintenance system does not require that the City have a GIS. We can actually provide a baseline GIS using TIGER files or satellite imagery. In this manner the Hand-Held computers are linked to a GPS receiver and assets are located precisely using the GPS receiver. Note that some asset management programs also have a rudimentary network building capacity which can be used for asset location and display.

Can Echelon customize the software in order to address the Cityís unique Inventory or Maintenance needs?

Yes. Many projects end up requiring customization since Cities have different ways of dealing with inventory and maintenance.

What can the HHPC/PPC units be used for?

All of hardware supplied by Echelon will be Windows CE or Pocket PC based. This means that the hand-held computers can be used for drawing sketches, making corrections to AutoCAD drawings, Internet communications, note taking, and managing contacts. Some systems will have available copies of Pocket Word, Pocket Excel, Pocket Access, and Pocket PowerPoint. The latter programs are dependent on the hardware chosen.

What type of training is provided?

The following is an overview of the one day, on-site training sessions that are provided for each furnished system. Management training/review is unlimited with regard to number of attendees.

  • A management overview training session. (What the system can and canít do).

  • Guidelines for conducting inventories of individual assets.

  • Instruction for use of the individual inventory programs.

  • Instruction for the use of the individual maintenance programs.

What warranties are provided?

All the supplied hardware is warrantied by the manufacturer. These warranties range from 3 months to 1 year. All software supplied by Echelon is warrantied for 1 year. No software maintenance contracts are required. However, software updates are available for a limited update fee.

What hardware is supplied?

The choice of  Pocket PC (PPC) or Hand-Held PC (HHPC) is made by the client. Echelon has pre-qualified hardware and will supply specific computers and GPS units from COMPAQ, HP, Fujitsu, Hitachi, Motorola, and others. Although we can supply Windows based Desktop computer units, we assume that the City will provide these. All software is loaded onto the hardware before it is transferred to the City and copies are made available to the City for backup purposes.

Has the system been used elsewhere?

The inventory component of the system has been developed and refined in multiple inventory and maintenance projects conducted by Echelon.

Is the system easy to learn and use?

Individuals have been trained to collect data in less than half a day. You simply turn on the handheld or palmtop computer by hitting one of the special-purpose buttons. Once the program is brought up you can select what assets you wish to inventory or maintain, point to the appropriate asset location, then fill in the form that is presented. The form is filled in by simply making menu selections.

Will you provide References?

We would be pleased to provide references, on request.

If Echelon does the inventory surveys does the City get to keep the hardware/software?

Yes. We leave the City with appropriate hardware and software such that collected data can be transferred directly into CarteGraph or other work management and inventory database programs.

What will the system cost?

The system cost will depend on the number of units provided, whether or not inventories are conducted and whether or not data bases and/or work management programs are provided. Complete turnkey systems can cost as little as $10,000 to $15,000.

Will this system help with GASB34?

Absolutely. It can provide the City with the inventories you want or the asset management programs you need. Also, it provides complete tools for ongoing inspection, monitoring and maintenance management.

Can we buy the software separately?

After you have purchased a complete turnkey system with embedded inventory modules and associated software and training, additional fully loaded HHPC/PPCís can be purchased for reasonable costs. We can also license additional software units at this time.



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