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Imports… almost as cool as teleports.

December 14, 2017

Congrats! If you made it past the title, you just earned a virtual badge because you are likely wondering how you can save some time by telep … importing something into VUEWorks.

So, how is all of that clicking going for you? We get it. As designers of the VUEWorks application, we realize that building something out, designing a large template, or creating bulk assets can also require bulk clicking at times. That’s precisely why we have created a variety of channels throughout the application to import templates and data into VUEWorks. Aside from making life a little easier, importing into VUEWorks can save time too!

There are several locations within the application that allow something to be imported. Let’s take a quick look at how imports can be used.

  • Set up Users
  • Facility Templates
  • Facilities, Containers, and Assets
  • Work Orders
  • Resources – Labor, Equipment, Inventory

Most of the time, importing anything into VUEWorks requires a data source to be set up on the server. This enables the application to connect to the data that needs to be imported. Data source formats will typically be Excel files but can also be set up as Access, SQL, Oracle, or ODBC connections. Excel files used as data sources should use the .xls file format. Excel files used for imports should have no spaces in the filename, tabs, and field/column headers. Facility templates are unique, however.

Importing a Facility Template

Importing Facility templates can be really handy. The ability to import Facility templates gives users the option to build out a template in the Sandbox environment, plan it out, test it, and update it, all before importing it into the Production environment (users with only a Production environment can simply make a copy).

The process is fairly straightforward and there is an import wizard that walks you through the process. Exporting/Importing Facility templates can be done via the Administer Facilities interface and – quick reminder – the user needs administrative access to Facilities to perform template exports/imports. Exported Facility templates are saved as .zip files and these should not be extracted/unpacked. The import process uses the .zip file.

Importing from a Data Source

Everything else needs a data source! VUEWorks is hungry, so feed it some food. Once you have the data formatted and ready to import, it just needs to be set up as a Data Source. This can be done by going to Manage Data Links within Administration. Click the Manage Data Sources button, then just click the plus button to add a new data source to your list. The interface will walk you through connecting to your file on the server.

Run Import, Run!

There are a variety of reasons to set up a data import. Perhaps you have a long list of new VUEWorks users that need to be entered into the system. Another reason could be that you want to create a large batch of Work Orders with some of the information pre-populated on the forms. All of these channels of importing data are for the sake of saving time. After the Data Source is established, fields just need to be mapped within the module so the information to be imported gets a new home.

After mapping the appropriate locations, the import can be run. Here are a few places to find import capabilities.

  • Within Setup Users, you can use the Import Manager to bring in a batch of users.
  • Facilities, along with their Containers and Assets, can be imported using the Import Manager in Administer Facilities.
  • Expand Work Orders and explore the Import Manager.
  • Resources – Labor, Equipment, Inventory – can be accessed by expanding Resource Manager and then selecting Import/Export.

Quick Tips

  • Not seeing the import options or buttons? These need module codes that VUEWorks Support can assist with.
  • Keep things simple. When setting up the import template, fields should match or be very similar to the item that they would be mapped to in the application. This just makes field mapping easier.
  • Excel files used for imports should have no spaces in the filename, tabs, and field/column headers.

Need More Info?
Contacting your assigned Project Manager or VUEWorks Support will always get you the most immediate assistance: Please email support@vueworks.com.
 
 

DTS’ Mobile Asset Data Collection Fleet and Asset Inventories

November 10, 2017

DTS’ Mobile Asset Data Collection (MAC) vehicles are not just for pavement inventories and inspections. The DTS fleet is built with identical and redundant systems that collect an enormous amount of data in a single pass. In any given week, each DTS MAC vehicle collects an average of 1 TB of data. This data consists of:

  • High definition continuous pavement images
  • Forward and rear-facing high-resolution right-of-way digital imagery with sub-meter locational accuracy
  • Inertial measuring unit (IMU) with centimeter-level positioning of MAC vehicle during collection
  • Distance measuring instrument (DMI) used for system integration
  • GPS equipment consisting of two positional units and one differential unit for mapping level positioning of the vehicle, heading information, and positional tagging of images
  • Surface (road) profiler for precise pavement ride and rut measurements
  • On board servers for storing data, processing images and storing profiler, GPS, DMI and IMU data

 
MAC Van
 
While most projects are driven by a single goal, such as an updated network-level pavement inspection or the creation of a sign inventory, many DTS clients utilize the secondary benefits of all the additional data collected by the MAC vehicles. Since DTS drives all streets within the jurisdictional project boundaries, they are able to provide a “wheels-on-the-ground” verified update of the street centerline file.

Many times, the MAC field crews encounter barricaded roads, inaccessible gated communities, or streets that may exist in the GIS file but do not exist on the ground (such as platted but unbuilt subdivisions.) Emergency response crews, addressing departments, planners, and the local property appraiser can all benefit from this updated information. DTS has even had clients create 3-D models of their street centerline network based on the MAC vehicle GPS van track elevation data.
 
VUEPoint Screen
 
Additionally, many DTS clients set up an online web-based video logger viewer application based on the data collected by the MAC vehicles (as well as data from other collection platforms). VUEPoint® allows for multiple camera views, comparison of images from year to year, and a host of other features including:

  • Query routes, and see roadway and right-of-way images on a route
  • Play the video after selecting a starting point on a road
  • Ingests a variety of roadway video data from several different vendors
  • Customize the view to see different data points for each segment (add columns to the data grid)
  • Customize the view by selecting the number of camera images to display (from those available)
  • A choice of resolution images (thumbnail and higher resolution images, if available).
  • Optional pavement camera view display

 
 
VUEPoint® allows asset management personnel to take a virtual drive along the roadway without ever leaving the office. It saves time and money while providing a level of detailed information that is as good as if standing there in person. Moreover, the ability of the viewer to allow users to compare data across multiple years helps management personnel get a real-world perspective when elements of the data seem skewed. It allows them to see if there is a data anomaly or if the condition has really deteriorated as reflected in the data.

Finally, the DTS team also specializes in the creation of GIS asset inventories for our clients. By utilizing a combination of right-of-way imagery collected by the MAC vehicles, aerial imagery, and existing tables and databases, DTS can create a comprehensive GIS-based inventory of all assets located and maintained along any public right-of-way or jurisdictional boundary.

DTS creates new GIS data by extracting any assets captured within the right-of-way imagery collected by our MAC vehicles. A potential listing of assets includes but is not limited to: signs, fire hydrants, utility poles, sidewalks, curbs, manholes, guardrails, water valves, street lights, traffic signals, inlets, bus shelters, and pavement markings and stripings. After these assets are extracted from the imagery with sub-meter accuracy, all attributes requested by the client are assigned to the asset along with a geo-tagged image of the asset.

DTS also generates new GIS data by digitizing assets based off aerial imagery. Examples of this include building footprints, segmented street centerlines, city-maintained mowable acres, railroad lines, and city-owned properties.
Additionally, existing client-maintained databases can also be utilized to create GIS data.
 
Many databases contain some type of geographic attribute such as an address or parcel number. This data can be geocoded and mapped into the overall GIS asset inventory in order to retain historical records and institutional knowledge.
 
Intersection
For more information about DTS’ Mobile Asset Data Collection services, please contact Daniel Behnke, PMP, AICP, GISP – Director of Asset Management Operations: dbehnke@dtsgis.com or 407.375.3049.
 
 
 

Assisting Organizations in Enterprise Wide Asset Management

November 6, 2017

DTS CIO Top 25
“A satisfied customer is the best business strategy” This old-age saying by author Michael LeBoeuf aligns well with the business philosophy of Data Transfer Solutions (DTS), a Florida-based transportation solutions firm with focus in enterprise infrastructure asset management, transportation technologies, GIS and engineering.

Allen Ibaugh, AICP, GISP -CEO, Data Transfer Solutions elaborates, “We have developed processes and technology tools that ensure the success of our customers through better data, better designs, better decisions.”
 
Read the full article (PDF)  
 
 

Pavement Condition Ratings: Don’t stress the distress.

September 29, 2017

The backbone of any pavement management system is the measurement of the existing pavement conditions. In order to achieve a representative assessment of the current conditions, we need to quickly and efficiently gather information and process the observations into a value that can be used to rate the pavements for evaluation.

This also initiates development of performance curves used for prediction of future performance. We often receive questions regarding the Pavement Condition Index (PCI) values we provide from our field data collection. We believe it may be helpful to answer commonly asked questions about this scoring system. After all, PCI isn’t something to be ignored.

Potential outcome of extreme pavement distress, when PCI is ignored.

What is the Pavement Condition Index (PCI)?

As defined by ASTM-D6433-11, PCI is a parameter commonly used as a scaled measurement of the distresses observed on the pavement surface. A scale from 0 to 100, with the higher values indicating better conditions, represents the pavement’s current state. In order to interpret the PCI values obtained from field observations, we believe it is necessary to first understand how the values are calculated. The PCI score is based on a series of deduct curves representing various distress types with three severity levels for each distress (low, moderate, and high).

Values obtained from these deduct curves depend upon the density and severity of each distress. The variability of deduction values is based on the type of distress, largely by the differential of environmental aging versus structural distresses. The summation of these deducts is basically subtracted from the perfect score of 100, after corrections are made for the number of distress types. It is valuable to understand that not all distresses indicate similar failure or deterioration rates. Deductions for environmental aging distresses may be relatively small while deductions for structural distresses can be four to five times greater.

Pavement distress example imagery.

At what level is the PCI value really used within a pavement management system?

Pavement management can be divided into two operating levels, the network level and the project level. The network level deals with the key administrative decisions of the pavement system and the service level that should be maintained. The question of which street sections need work, how much money is needed, when treatment is scheduled, and which needs should be funded are a few of the elements involved in the network-level.

The PCI value is most often used within the network level to define network conditions and differentiate between management sections that should be chosen for maintenance. Once management sections are chosen for funding within a given year, the project level deals with technical management decisions for more detailed conditions and specific project conditions. Given that a particular section will receive funding for maintenance, the project-level will help find the best alternative treatment to apply.

Pavement project work.

Is the PCI value calculated from all of the distresses within the roadway?

Within each management section of roadway, one or more survey units are inspected and rated to represent the condition of the entire management section. The entire management section is rarely rated completely. Due to cost constraints of rating 100 percent of the roadway, not to mention the time involved, experience has determined that smaller survey areas provide sufficient information to represent the overall pavement condition.

This means that distresses within the roadway that do not occur in the survey area will not be rated, or other distresses may only exist in the survey area but not throughout the entire management section. However, our data collection provides images of all of the lanes driven and can be reviewed at a later time if questions arise concerning distresses outside of the rated survey sections.

PCI road survey results.

Do the surveys cover all of the lanes

The lanes driven during a collection period are chosen to represent the overall condition of the roadway, but may not include all lanes. For example, on a two-lane road, both directions are driven and collected, while on a four-lane roadway, just the outside lanes of each direction are typically driven. For a six-lane roadway, typically the outside and inside lane of each direction are driven.

We generally find that distresses outside of the survey areas are isolated and maintained as such; therefore, it is not imperative that the survey is inclusive of all of the distresses in a management section. Surveying more pavement in a management section, will likely not significantly change the general assessment or decisions made for a particular roadway.

What does PCI really represent?

Scores represent the general conditions, but may not document all distresses that should be repaired within a management section. The percentages of distress observed in the survey area are extrapolated over the entire section to determine maintenance budgets. Detailed project level analysis is required once a particular management section is selected for treatment.

Is the distress evaluation and PCI calculation automated

DTS provides data collection with Mobile Asset Collection (MAC) vehicles, resulting in images of all assets within the right-of-way. The imagery provides GIS information for all assets along with measurable images of the pavement distresses. This portion of the collection is mainly automated as a collection process. However, each pavement distress is identified, evaluated, and measured by engineering technicians viewing these images. These professionals are trained to provide consistency in the rating, yet an amount of subjectivity remains in the process. Each person will view distresses slightly differently, but the descriptions provided in ASTM-D6433-11 help provide uniformity to the process. Having the raters perform their observations in a controlled environment, versus working in the field along busy roadways, reduces the variances within the process.

Two of Data Transfer Solutions, LLC’s state-of-the-art Mobile Asset Collection (MAC) vans.

We hope this discussion has provided some clarity to the pavement evaluation process and answers questions you may have had. If you have additional questions or would like to engage in more detailed discussions, our engineers are available to visit with you and review your data to provide a better understanding of what pavement data collection can tell you.

For more information on how you can obtain your PCI ratings through expert data collection, contact Scot Gordon, PE – Vice President of Asset Management Services: sgordon@dtsgis.com
 
 

Florida on the observing end of Hurricane Harvey

September 6, 2017

Few areas have experienced the devastation of a hurricane more than Florida where DTS is headquartered. Annual hurricane preparations begin in June and many residents remain on high alert until late October, when water temperatures cool and no longer propel storm development. We stock up on bottled water, flashlights, batteries and canned food, keep an eye on the tropics and fill up our gas tanks at any sign of a potential threat. These things are a way of life for many of us, and are not taken for granted.

This August, it wasn’t Florida in the path of destruction. Residents of the Sunshine State watched in horror last week as the Texas coastal bend braced for an impact that was, in many ways, reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. With the second largest US population, Texas was not able to organize a mass evacuation and those who chose to remain in their homes were urged to write their name and social security number on their forearm for first responder identification. As we tuned in across the gulf for the weather updates, storm coverage and reports of flooding, we empathized with our western neighbors.

“We had two of our data collection vans in Houston last week that had to be diverted to Arlington to avoid the storm,” said Rafael Rivera, DTS Director of Asset Management Technologies. “We have clients across the country, but a lot of them are in Texas. It’s scary and sad to see them in this situation.”

From our office in Orlando, Data Transfer Solutions employees wanted to help. Our clients, our friends, our co-workers and our families are in Texas. So we decided to do something.

soap saves lives
Rafael Rivera, Director of Asset Management Technologies & Kathy Nelson, Marketing Coordinator

Little bags with a Big Impact

On Thursday, August 31, local humanitarian and environmental group Clean the World delivered essential daily hygiene items to our office, greeted by staff members who were eager to help in some way. These items were assembled by staff into kits that also contained a handwritten message of hope and encouragement from our team.

Clean the World provides these kits globally to those in low-income and impoverished areas, granting a little dignity to those in need. Their kits also minimize the spread of disease. In the wake of Harvey, Clean the World has refocused all of their efforts to assembling and delivering kits to Houston and its surrounding areas. Although it seems like a drop in the bucket, DTS is thrilled to be able to help in some small way.

hygiene kits
Completed Clean the World Hygiene Kits

“We’ve been in their shoes before,” says Cynthia Novoa, CFO at DTS. “It breaks my heart to know these people have lost everything. This is our first time working with Clean the World – we’re hoping to have them back for more events on a regular basis. We are fortunate enough to be on the giving end this time, and we just want to help.”

Clean the World rep Marcus Thomas arrived at our office with the supplies around 8:30 am and DTS staff jumped right in to help set up the assembly stations. While preparing the conference room for volunteer kit builders, Marcus explained the company history and how Clean the World came to exist fewer than 10 years ago.

Partnering with domestic hotel chains, the organization collects discarded soaps, shampoos and conditioners. Soaps are melted down, sanitized and reformed into new 3-ounce bars. Shampoo and conditioner bottles are sanitized and refilled. A new toothbrush, toothpaste, razor and washcloth rounded out each hygiene kit going to Houston.

These efforts have a global impact on our environment and the millions of wasted products that would otherwise be discarded in landfills here in the US. Far beyond that, these kits are distributed worldwide to impoverished areas, homeless shelters and victims of natural disasters. Once all of the kits were complete, they were taken directly to the airport and loaded onto a plane bound for Houston.

This week Florida finds itself, once again, in the path of a major hurricane as Category 5 Irma barrels toward our coastline. Storm preparations are already well underway as we brace for potential impact over the weekend. All we can hope is that our volunteer efforts to help Houston have brought a level of awareness to our own state to be safe and prepared. Clean the World will continue their assistance to Texas, until the organization is needed elsewhere.

If you would like to donate, volunteer or learn more about Clean the World, please visit: https://cleantheworld.org/
Data Transfer Solutions, LLC headquarters office is located in Avalon Park (Orlando, Florida). Services range from right-of-way data collection and pavement analysis to our enterprise asset management software solution, VUEWorks®, which manages and maintains the full lifecycle of any asset or inventory. DTS strives to give back to the community and do our part to help the environment.

If you would like more information about DTS and VUEWorks, please contact:
Kathy Nelson, Marketing Coordinator: knelson@dtsgis.com.

assembling kits
DTS Staff and management assemble hygiene kits for Hurricane Harvey survivors