An application development assignment that began as a municipal project coordination system has morphed into a public-facing service aiming to help travelers plan their routes to work and school.
The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) selected SADA Systems, a technology and business consulting firm based in Los Angeles, to build what was initially conceived as a tool for planning and sequencing future public works projects. That effort, however, has since expanded and the latest component, dubbed dotMaps, went live Nov. 4. The dotMaps application, which is built on Google Maps and Google Cloud Platform, shows city residents the effects of construction projects on streets and sidewalks.
Users accessing dotMaps can draw a boundary around areas of interest and receive email notifications regarding construction and other events that may affect travel, according to SDOT.
Heather Marx, director of downtown mobility at SDOT, said her department selected SADA for the coordination tool project through a competitive procurement process.
SADA’s offering, Marx said, was “far and away the most easy to use with the simplest and most appealing interface. They also offered all of the things we were looking for in terms of coordination ability.”
Full deployed in August 2017, the project coordination and sequencing system application’s role has expanded over time. SDOT now uses it for scheduling work on projects that are happening at the moment, in addition to coordinating projects yet to break ground. The current phase is the dotMaps rollout. SADA worked with SDOT and the Chicago Department of Transportation on this public-facing element, according to Marx. Such shared technology initiatives help local governments save money.
Indeed, cost reduction has been a strength of the core project coordination system, in which any organization planning to work in the right of way — a strip of land reserved for public transportation — must enter their project data. The savings across participating agencies, public utilities, for example, paid for the project in a matter of months.
The savings stem, in part, from the ability to coordinate “shared trenching,” Marx noted. This lets the city open the ground once for more than one project, which minimizes construction time in the right of way. It also means the road is repaved once after construction ends, rather than after each time a utility launches a dig.
Marx said SDOT continues to uncover new uses for SADA’s map-based application. The department is currently working to include planning areas that the city studies prior to a project. SDOT plans to add detours and truck haul routes to the map as well.
SDOT also aims to share road closure information via its API with map providers such as Apple Maps, Google Maps and Waze, Marx said.