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Summer 2003
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Sunshine State One-Call of Florida, Inc., Puts ArcReader to Use

Not-for-Profit Organization Establishes One-Call Notification System for Intent to Excavate

  click to see enlargement
Miami-Dade County reference map ArcReader application. Once training was completed for the entire call center, the map data and map document were published to the map server.

As a result of Florida's "Underground Damage Prevention and Safety Act," the not-for-profit organization Sunshine State One-Call of Florida, Inc. (SSOCOF), came into being. The act establishes a one-call notification system for persons throughout Florida to give notice of intent to excavate. That information is then transmitted to owners of underground facilities. For the first five years, a contract operator under the supervision of the Board of Directors handled operations. In 1998, the Board of Directors voted to switch to in-house operations to achieve greater flexibility and to reduce the cost of operations.

How the System Works

SSOCOF's primary concern is safety. The notification process is free to all excavators. The process begins when an excavator notifies SSOCOF of a proposed excavation. This must occur not less than two nor more than five full business days prior to excavation. Information provided by an excavator is considered valid for a period of 20 calendar days following notification. Based on the information received from the excavator, SSOCOF then notifies those members who have indicated that they may have facilities near the planned excavation. This notification is known as a locate ticket. Upon receipt of the ticket, underground facility owners/operators have two full business days to do one of the following:

  • Identify the horizontal route by marking to within 24 inches from the outer edge of either side of the underground facility by the use of stakes, paint, flags, or other suitable means.
  • Reschedule the locate for a mutually agreeable time and date.
  • Notify the excavator that there are no underground facilities in the area described in the notice.

When a customer service representative (CSR) in the call center receives a call from an excavator, the representative must locate the site at which excavation/demolition is going to occur in order to send a locate ticket to the owners of the underground facilities. This is accomplished through a computerized ticketing system, which also includes a map component. The application originally performed the address match with TIGER data from the U.S. Census Bureau and later migrated to a commercial map product.

In 2000, SSOCOF solicited proposals to analyze the existing mapping database system to determine its shortfalls, upgrade necessities, and compatibility with other existing one-call systems. Canin Associates (CA) of Orlando, Florida, was awarded the project. CA spent several months evaluating the existing mapping system, resulting in the Mapping Analysis Services Final Report, which made the following recommendations:

  • Add a GIS professional to the SSOCOF staff.
  • Purchase GIS software and appropriate hardware.
  • Collect and maintain locally generated street centerline and reference map data, where available, to supplement commercial map data products.
  • Develop customized applications for ease of translation of the new map data.
  • Purchase IRTH ticket management software from AGT International (Columbus, Ohio) to facilitate the use of external sources of map data.

The most significant of these recommendations was to supplement commercial map data sources with locally generated map data, where possible, to enhance the accuracy of the map data used in the ticketing software. All other recommendations were in support of this single recommendation. In February 2001, the SSOCOF Board of Directors voted to purchase AGT International's IRTH ticket management software. This decision was based, in part, on the ability of IRTH software to support map data from outside sources (i.e., the application did not rely solely on a proprietary map data format; outside sources of data could be easily integrated with the ticketing functions of the software).

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The application can zoom in and search street features and township sections.

A GIS position was then created to facilitate the collection and translation of the map data. ArcGIS software was purchased along with a Dell Dimension 8100 PC. A GIS specialist was brought on board in January 2002, and the IRTH conversion took place in February 2002. The responsibilities of this new position included identifying sources of map data, collecting map data, translating the map data format to be consistent with that utilized by the IRTH software, maintaining the map data by implementing update schedules, and facilitating implementation of the new map data with SSOCOF members.

The SSOCOF's GIS technical specialist, Billie Rae Dugger, began to explore methods of making the new map data available to the CSRs, particularly with respect to new roads and/or subdivisions. Since these roads and subdivisions did not previously exist, they did not pose the threat of misnotification that the spatial shifts on existing roads would. About this time, ArcReader software from Esri came to Dugger's attention. She explored the possibility of using ArcReader in the call center for the interim of the map data update. She found ArcReader to be an ideal solution because it relies on ArcPublisher, and so the functionality, symbols, and overall look and feel are determined by ArcGIS and then transferred to the user, without giving the user the ability to make drastic modifications. Thus, the integrity of the initial application is controlled by the publisher of the map document and cannot be altered significantly by the user. It is also considered a shareware application, and so the price was right.

Dugger set up a map document with Miami-Dade County map data. All symbology established is consistent from county to county. Zoom scales were established for different layers for ease of use (i.e., the water bodies data appears at all scales but the points of interest, such as schools, churches, and parks, do not appear until the user zooms in to the appropriate scale). Once the document was published, Human Resources worked with the GIS specialist to develop a training program for the CSRs. This ensured that everyone would be familiar enough with the application to actually use it.

Once training was completed for the entire call center, the map data and map document were published to the map server. Then ArcReader was installed on every workstation in the call center (approximately 70 workstations). The shortcut to the map document was created and put into the start-up of all the call center workstations. The shortcut automatically starts the application whenever a CSR logs in. The response was overwhelming.

"This application has enabled us to gain efficiencies by having a second resource available on the desktop," says Ruby Crosier, call center manager.

"The convenience of having a desktop application versus having to consult a paper map is invaluable," says JoeAnn Flowers, call center supervisor.

For more information, contact Billie Rae Dugger, Sunshine State One-Call of Florida, Inc., GIS technical specialist (e-mail: billie.dugger@mail.callsunshine.com, tel.: 386-575-2008).

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