El Jebel, Colorado, Saves Thousands Using Augmented Reality and GIS
Crawford Properties, LLC, owns and manages a residential and commercial mobile home community in El Jebel, Colorado. The company is responsible for El Jebel's 5.4 square miles of underground assets, including water, sewer, gas, and electrical infrastructure, which are needed to support this growing community just outside of Aspen, Colorado.
The Colorado 811 organization divides facility owners like Crawford into Tier One, Tier Two, and home rule cities to improve safety and prevent damage to valuable underground assets in Colorado communities. Crawford is a Tier One member of Colorado 811, which means it must respond to all 811 location requests on its property. Colorado subsurface utility engineering regulations require Tier One members to document when areas have been marked before roadwork, development, or other digging can begin. Crawford's staff needed a faster, more accurate way to record assets and their responses to 811 requests, reduce clerical errors, and mitigate any financial exposure due to inaccurate or slow response. Using the latest in geographic information system (GIS) and augmented reality (AR) technology, staff simplified how they locate assets and saved thousands in labor costs alone.
Crawford also faced the retirement of an essential employee. For almost 60 years, its supervisor, Noel, had gathered an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the underground pipelines and utilities that support life and business for El Jebel's 1,600 residents. Its sewer infrastructure consists of plastic piping with no tracer wires, so it wasn't easy for others to access what Noel had mentally cataloged through his years of work. With this in mind, Crawford began to look at possible solutions to better support knowledge transfer and its locating team's access to geospatial information.
Crawford selected Argis Solutions to help solve this multilayered problem. Argis is a Denver, Colorado-based Esri partner focused on integrating GIS with augmented reality and mixed reality. Argis's mobile app, the Argis Lens, translates ArcGIS feature services into augmented reality in real time. The Argis Lens offered Crawford a cost-effective method for cataloging and communicating the valuable information that was currently only accessible through Noel. It would also help Crawford's mobile workers document data directly at the work site, keeping all stakeholders involved in the excavation process better protected from potential damages.
Crawford moved all its GIS data to ArcGIS Online—a cloud-based mapping system for creating, analyzing, and sharing maps—to consolidate information into one dynamic system of record. Whenever new assets are placed, Crawford's locating teams visit the site and record the asset's coordinates using ArcGIS Collector, a mobile data collection app, with a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receiver via a tablet. This data is then fed directly into ArcGIS Online onto a feature layer where it is maintained.
Using a tablet, mobile workers view the collected data, which ranges from sprinkler heads to electrical wires or sewer pipes. The Argis Lens allows them to verify the data's accuracy and record images near known points and landmarks. When location requests are submitted, the location team uses the Argis Lens and ARTMS, Argis's augmented reality 811 response system, to manage the entire location request on-site in one stop. ARTMS ingests Colorado 811 marking requests and shows 811 responses directly from the field within the application. Because ARTMS is an extension of ArcGIS Workforce, team managers can also use it to track workers and tickets. Combining ARTMS with the Argis Lens keeps mobile workers safer. They are armed with visual situational awareness of surrounding systems made visible on the AR map. If the ArcGIS data requires updating, the mobile worker uses the tablet and GNSS receiver to update the data directly at the work site.
This new workflow focuses on mobile worker empowerment. It allows all GIS locating and documentation to occur at the work site. Crawford Properties is reducing postprocessing activities by two hours a day, saving $7,500 yearly in labor alone in 2021. Data quality has improved, and data is more functional and accessible. With ARTMS, Crawford has excellent documentation for 811 location response requests, verifying the full record of information provided. Better documentation minimizes Crawford's loss exposure and protects the El Jebel community, allowing it to operate as seamlessly as possible. Crawford is also beginning to use ArcGIS to measure each mobile home lot to meet state requirements. As it looks to the future, Crawford will be transitioning to ArcGIS Field Maps, an all-in-one app that uses data-driven maps to help mobile workers perform data collection and editing.
"What I love about Argis Solutions' software is that I don't need to change my data model. Its system just uses the data I have in the condition I have. It just extends our current data's power," said Prentice Hubbell, property manager/owner of Crawford Properties, LLC. As this affordable housing community continues to grow and thrive into the next decade using a geographic approach, the dynamic continuity offered by the ArcGIS system, combined with the ARTMS extension, makes it simple for Crawford's staff to find specialized solutions that make their work faster, easier, and safer.