Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Editor's note: Today’s guest bloggers are Lawrence Olszak, Director of Technology Services and William Cheaks Jr., Deputy Commissioner of Infrastructure Management at the Chicago Department of Transportation. See how other forward-thinking organizations are investing in mapping technology and transforming their business: Maps are Going Google.
When Rahm Emanuel became mayor of Chicago in 2011, the city’s infrastructure was seriously aging. Under an ambitious program to reinvest in making Chicago a world-class city, we repaved city streets, replaced sewer and gas lines and installed new water pipes all across the city. There were a lot of projects happening and little to no coordination between the 26 different utilities and agencies doing the work.
To better manage the many overlapping projects—which often meant pavement and streets were dug up and restored twice—the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) launched the Project Coordination Office (PCO). The PCO, which is overseen by locally based Collins Engineers, Inc., needed a way to make it easy to share data stored in different siloed databases and display it on a map. The PCO contracted with Google for Work Premier Partner SADA Systems to develop dotMaps, an interactive web mapping service providing collaborative tools that allows people to manage, create and edit, as well as resolve overlapping projects—or conflicts—using geolocation, all in real-time. This application was built on many Google products: Google Maps Engine, the Maps API and Cloud Platform, which offer infrastructure for hosting applications and includes App Engine, a hosted service used for building web applications.
|Lawrence Olszak, Director of Technology Services|
Not only is all the data now in one place, we are able to improve our inter- and intra-agency communications. Employees used to share information about new projects and updates in weekly three-hour meetings where dozens of people would provide input. Today, people share that information in real-time directly in the dotMaps. They provide updates, ask questions and communicate via a pop up “chat” window that is displayed just by clicking on a project location marked on a map. Email notifications are sent out to people who need to see the updates.
The new PCO processes and dotMaps mapping solution helps officials to make more informed decisions about scheduling projects which has already saved the city $14.5 million YTD 2014, by eliminating duplicated work—saving resources and reducing the amount of time streets are closed. Citizen complaints about works projects to local officials also have been dramatically reduced. In the future, we plan to use Google satellite imagery, traffic and transit data to make the mapping even more useful. With the help of Google tools we’re on target to rebuild Chicago one construction project at a time.