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Data Assets are Assets

December 15, 2015

data loss blues

Did you hear the one about the asset collection vendor that lost your data? Not a joke, and a painful horror story from one of the other data collection companies out there. We are proud to say at DTS and VUEWorks that we have never lost a client’s data… ever! And we do not intend to…ever! Having a strong awareness of the type and value of data that a vendor is protecting has become even more critical as technology platforms continue to evolve.

As cloud computing becomes a more prevalent phenomena daily, major challenges emerge for protecting large asset management datasets, linking through firewalls and displaying information that is compiled across multiple IT architectures and frameworks.

Moreover, In our present climate where public infrastructure is a target – controlling access to data once thought mundane takes one a new level of importance in the era of domestic terrorism. Knowing and protecting the location, criticality and condition of infrastructure is paramount to protecting public safety as well as providing timely and up to date information to first responders.

These data sets are costly to develop, expensive to maintain and represent a significant investment of tax payer funded resources. Protecting this data should paramount when considering asset management as a program, not just a project. There are several considerations that need to be well thought out in scenarios including, but not limited to:

  • The need to create a report: Who has access? And access to what within the AMS?
  • Sensitive information: How is it protected? How are permissions handled?
  • Systems: Who has access to test, staging and production environments? Are they allowed to add/upgrade applications?
  • Backups: What is the process for securing backups of both spatial and non-spatial data?
  • Hardware: Outdated? Using cloud?
  • Security: Improper configuration settings? Inadequate security controls?

It is important to take into consideration data loss prevention. These are processes put in place to address the areas listed above, to ensure that there is a methodology consisting of people, process and technology that protects your data. Consider the following categories and see if your organization has a data loss prevention methodology in place:

  • Data Discovery
  • Data Governance
  • Risk Assessment
  • Regulatory and Privacy Compliance
  • Data Classification
  • Policies, Standards and Procedures
  • Remediation Processes
  • Training and Awareness

Deep in the Heart of Texas

December 9, 2015


Currently, DTS is providing pavement data collection services for the two largest cities in Texas as well as the state’s capital city. DTS is utilizing its fleet of Mobile Asset Collection (MAC) vehicles to provide its street solutions via an inventory and condition assessment of the road networks.

For all major and local streets in Houston and San Antonio, DTS is performing a pavement survey, rating the pavement, determining the pavement width and geocoding the data. The survey is being conducted using International Roughness Index (IRI) and Pavement Condition Index (PCI) procedures as the basis for rating the physical condition of streets.

Once the Pavement Condition Index (PCI) has been calculated, DTS will provide each city with a 3-year and 5-year pavement preservation program based on detailed pavement condition evaluation. These programs are used to establish the annual maintenance budgets. The pavement information is being integrated into each city’s pavement management systems.

DTS’ Texas data collection clients include Arlington, Austin, Balcones Heights, Bastrop County, Bexar County, Brownsville, Duncanville, Denison, El Campo, Fredericksburg, Lewisville, Little Elm, New Braunfels, San Antonio and Sherman.

DTS’ pavement management activities have attracted quite a bit of media attention. Check out the following to find out more about what the DTS MAC fleet does and how it will help governmental agencies save money.


DTS – In the News!

Channel2 Investigates: List of Houston’s worst roads

Filling in cracks, gaps

High tech van helps Denison with street repairs

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 24, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

To our customers west to east, north to south… I mean Fairbanks Area Metropolitan Transportation Systems (FMATS) to Key West, FL and all in between. We thank you for the professional opportunity to serve your needs and look forward to building on your visions in 2016. In this time of gratitude, we give thanks for you. We value your patronage and appreciate your confidence in us. Counting you among our customers is something for which we are especially grateful.

As DTS looks towards the New Year, we are excited about the success of our company and the ongoing growth and development of our products – VUEWorks, TIPvue and TransVue – along with our services encompassing mobile asset collection and custom GIS work. We owe this success because of our clients and their continued support, input and feedback on our products and services which helps us build better solutions.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us to all of you!

Responsive website design for web mapping applications

November 3, 2015

The cross-device mapping application dilemma: responsive website, hybrid or native?

The right choice of development approach for any particular project depends on several factors including such things as budget, the intended audience reach, mapping functionality, development staff and skillsets. For today, let’s assume a pragmatic approach with the goal being that of providing the best possible user experience across devices. Below I’ll share some observations and insights regarding how we have addressed these issues for various clients.

Mobile first responsive website

Developing a single application targeting mobile as the primary experience and responsive to tablet and desktop is a compelling option for those simple connected web mapping applications where features and functionality will be the same across devices. One such example is a website we developed for the Colorado Department of Transportation that delivers their scenic byways to all users and allows them to route directions targeted for bicycles. One benefit to this approach is that it targets the widest audience from a single shared codebase.

The following images show the application in a browser across desktop and mobile devices.

Figure 1: Desktop home view Figure 1: Desktop home view

Figure 2: Mobile home
Figure 2: Mobile home
Figure 3: Mobile map view
Figure 3: Mobile map view

Unifying the desktop and tablet website experiences

Developing an application so the desktop and tablet experiences share the same codebase works great given a limited budget and an all-purpose connected mapping application. Tweaks to disable or hide features can be made to enhance the tablet experience using CSS media queries. Furthermore, changes can be made through JavaScript to redirect the flow to one that makes sense for a tablet. For example, some analysis tools require too complex of a workflow to be performed on a tablet and can simply be hidden along with informing the user that the full suite of tools are available from a desktop browser.

On a recent job we completed for the Ohio Department of Transportation we followed this approach with much success. The application was intended for connected office and field personnel, as well as the general public. It provided analysis tools and read-only access to data.

The following images show a full-feature map viewer in a browser across desktop and tablet devices.

tims desktop Figure 5: Desktop Identify tool view
tims tablet tool viewFigure 6: Tablet Identify tool view

Mobile website experience

The smaller form factors of mobile devices typically dictate the need for simplified workflows and/or functionalities as compared to desktop and even tablets. This may come in the form of reduced features or separate tools targeting mobile devices. Both strategies were employed while developing the responsive mobile experience for the application discussed above. It’s important to note that the development effort to support mobile devices came after the desktop/tablet site had been developed. This allowed us to leverage the existing client framework reducing the amount of new code and time to deliver.

Our framework was designed to access the underlying mapping API through an abstraction layer. This made it possible for us to quickly swap out the ArcGIS API for JavaScript in favor of Esri Leaflet, a lightweight API that offers far better performance on mobile devices.

The following images show the mobile map viewer and illustrate some of the layout changes to support enhanced workflows for mobile.

tims mobile identify map
Figure 7: Mobile Identify tool
tims mobile identify data
Figure 8: Mobile Identify tool data table

Hybrid and native applications

Consider hybrid and native applications whether it’s a desire to have a presence in one or more app stores, direct access to mobile hardware or sensors or disconnected workflows.

The hybrid approach using PhoneGap/Cordova enables organizations to leverage existing HTML and JavaScript expertise and maintain a single codebase to run on any mobile device. Where the hybrid approach gets tricky is with disconnected workflows. Esri has shared a set of libraries, offline-editor-js, that offers limited support and workflows for offline web mapping applications. However, be aware that they don’t officially support the PhoneGap/Cordova platforms. After careful review of all the caveats that come with these libraries, this may still be a viable option for small focused application workflows.

Esri fully supports offline workflows with their native ArcGIS Runtime SDKs. These SDKs are available today if targeting a single device platform. By years end Esri is supposed to release their first public beta of the ArcGIS Runtime SDK for Xamarin. This will be a compelling API for cross-platform development using .NET.

Further considerations

In the last year Esri has released AppStudio for ArcGIS (currently in beta) and Web AppBuilder for ArcGIS. Neither solution requires developer skills. Rather, users can leverage existing application templates and configurations. AppStudio for ArcGIS enables a cross-platform deployment strategy using ArcGIS Runtime SDK 10.2.5 for Qt. The Web AppBuilder for ArcGIS leverages HTML and JavaScript that can be run across devices via a web browser.

Esri resources

VUEWorks® Helps Solve Map-21 Challenges Right on Time

October 28, 2015

VUEWorks® is a commercial off the shelf web based software that can readily assist with transit asset management as required by law (Statutory Reference: 49 U.S.C. Section 5326 / MAP-21 Section 20019). The system is a proven solution designed to improving asset management and provides key capabilities required for a strategic approach in assessing needs and prioritizing investments for bringing the nation’s public transit systems into a state of good repair.

Power lies in VUEWorks® configurability where customized software is not necessary. New reporting requirements to promote accountability are a standard with the system and templates may be developed and shared throughout the community further saving time and precious resources.
VUEWorks® is the performance asset management system specifically made to serve as a system of record and deal with risk, condition, and value for Transit related infrastructure. Due to the configurable capabilities of the system, Transit requirements presented by Federal Transit Administration (FTA) can be tracked and achieved via this web based GIS solution.

  • Meet Reporting Requirements
  • Quickly show a map of “state of good repair”
  • Assess and manage condition of capital assets (including equipment, rolling stock, infrastructure, and facilities)
  • Manage performance measures for state of good repair (all FTA grantees will be required to set targets)
  • Manage capital asset inventories and condition assessments
  • Wizard driven scenario planning for investment prioritization (“What if” scenario planning)

In short, with only a few clicks in VUEWorks®, the following requirements may be met:

  • Show all capital asset inventories and condition assessments
  • Produce an investment prioritization

Data Transfer Solutions, LLC (DTS) is the leader in rapid asset collection, GIS enablement, and sustainable maintenance with VUEWorks as a system of record and performance measures maintenance and planning.

Click here to request a demonstration, learn more or share how you currently perform your asset management compliance.

Managing the life-cycle of your assets

October 20, 2015

Here at DTS, as a leading solution provider for all phases in asset management life-cycle, we spend a lot of time interacting with a wide spectrum of private and public organizations from governmental agencies to large private companies. We have found they have one interest that binds them together – wanting to manage their assets in a true performance-based approach. You hear the phrase “performance-based” or “risk-based” a lot today – but what is it actually? Performance-Based Asset Management is a holistic approach to operational and life-cycle asset management. This holistic approach to managing aging infrastructure is critical as populations and asset inventory counts continue to grow while budgets and staff continue to shrink or stagnate.

Unfortunately we keep bumping into a disturbing trend. Time and time again we find the entity is stuck in a situation where their current “asset management” software solution can’t provide the performance-based capabilities they are looking for. These systems were usually designed to meet the basic requirements of a work management system and are great at tracking the labor and materials involved with keeping assets running. Some might include an inspection application that helps with tracking the condition of the asset at a specific time.

This is not enough to manage the entire life-cycle of assets as is done in a performance-based approach. You need to be able to relate the work order data to the valuation of the individual asset. You need to have the capabilities to evaluate the risk associated with how the asset can fail, the probability it can fail and the consequences if it does fail. This information for each asset needs to be integrated and analyzed to determine the riskiest assets, to run multiple “what-if” scenarios of different treatment tactics to uncover which are the most beneficial and economically attractive. This information is essential to accurately forecast capital budgets needs and create and maintain the projects required. How else can you figure out the best path forward?

This true insight into the life-cycle of the assets is the only way you can assess, evaluate, plan and maintain alignment between organizational goals and the efficient, cost-effective utilization of limited resources. Correctly implementing this approach is critical in order to effectively maintain an organization’s infrastructure and assets in a sustainable state of good repair.

It sounds daunting – but not if you have the right solution. VUEWorks is the answer. VUEWorks is a COTS asset management solution that was initially developed in the late 1990s as a tool for helping its creators build asset management plans for customers. The customers liked the software so much they wanted to buy it. VUEWorks has come a long way since those early beginnings. It has evolved into an asset management platform with a strong grounding in performance-based asset management. A platform where all your internal and external asset data can be combined, assessed, managed, and analyzed in a true performance-based approach.