The American Public Works Association (APWA) recently released a list of the top five trending technologies in public works. These technologies, whether used individually or in tandem, are aimed at increasing the points of connection between field and office and improving the accuracy, veracity, and accessibility of data.
The technologies on the list are: GIS, asset management, field management, Drones/UAS, electric vehicles. Let’s take a closer look at how each technology is implemented and the benefits it can bring to the public works industry.
A geographic information system (GIS) is a system that captures, analyzes, manages, and presents all types of geographical data. More recently, government agencies are using GIS and real-time data to navigate the environmental impacts of construction and find sustainable detours.
GIS can also be used to receive real time data updates from field activities. For example, Infotech’s construction management platform integrates with Esri location maps is used to improve communication by sharing and visualizing all construction project activity. Real-time data with GIS is just another way this system is used to better serve the community.
Asset management systems are used to track and manage data related to physical and intangible assets throughout their lifecycle. More recently, there is a focus on risk management and maximizing the value of assets across their lifetime.
A key part of asset management is ensuring data is captured accurately and digitally through each stage of the construction project lifecycle. This data, like the type and condition of equipment such as signage, asphalt, concrete kind and quality of concrete, or the weather on installation day, can help inform future asset management planning. For example, Infotech’s Appia platform records daily report data in a comprehensive, searchable archive that integrates with other tools like Esri dashboards, Trimble rovers, Leica rovers, etc.
Field management is the process of managing activities that take place in the field. With field management applications, field crews can now gather data and complete administrative tasks on site without the need to travel back to the office to record project information.
Field work processes can now be made more flexible and efficient by maximizing communication between the office and the field and minimizing travel. Many teams are using field management apps and mobile applications like Infotech Mobile Inspector to track and manage data related to work orders, crew schedules, equipment rentals, and more.
Drones, or unmanned aerial systems (UAS), are aircraft operated without a human pilot onboard. Drones use cameras and LiDar to capture geographical data that can be processed with software. The data processing software is rapidly expanding to include machine learning and artificial intelligence to make sense of all of this data. Not only can organizations conduct infrastructure inspections, mapping, and asset management remotely, they can also begin development for future projects with the data collected.
As the technology continues evolving, it can be better applied in the public works industry by optimizing how the data travels from drone hardware to asset and project management software.
With the combination of battery technology improvements and federal programs/grants, many are looking into transitioning to electric vehicles. Compared to the traditional gasoline or diesel-powered vehicles, electric vehicles have lower emissions and operating costs. An increase in charger availability has made this a viable option for agencies, to such an extent that agencies are even transitioning to electric fleet vehicles.
The electric vehicle revolution isn’t just impacting agency equipment. Increasingly, transportation agencies are exploring the best methods for installing electric vehicle chargers along their interstates, highways, and other transportation infrastructure. Soon, tracking these EV stations will be just as essential as tracking things like gas lines.
The APWA's list of the Top 5 Trending Technologies in Public Works highlights some incredible innovation in the infrastructure industry. These technologies have improved efficiency and accuracy across a wide range of public works projects. Each technology provides multiple benefits which any organization can begin implementing today.
Want to support your organization’s efforts to implement new technologies? Let’s chat! We work with 40+ state DOTs and hundreds of local government agencies on making the transition from outdated processes to those supported by the latest technologies. Our Appia and Bid Express solutions help organizations lay the groundwork for digital project delivery. Contact the e-Construction experts today to learn more.