Colorado 811's 2019 Damage Prevention Safety Summit: Know What's Below

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This September, representatives of the Argis Solutions team attended Colorado 811’s 2019 Safety Summit, a two-day event. On the first day, attendees met in downtown Denver. On the second day, a mock line strike demonstration was held at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds in Golden, CO.

During this year’s Safety Summit, the primary focus was on the parties that are involved in 811 transactions: excavators, locators, contractors, and facility owners. Colorado 811 wants to meet members where they are, help members that need to transition to Tier One become compliant with the law, and educate everyone on SUE regulations and the consequences that result in non-compliance. Safety is everyone’s business. 

Attendees came from a wide range of backgrounds—water authorities, guard rail construction companies, and everything in between! Argis team members left the summit encouraged by the number of people who are invested in safety and best practices for damage prevention. We commend the Safety Commission on how fast they are moving to adopt and promote the new legislation. 

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Argis was able to share details about our augmented reality ticketing system (ARTMS), and how it can help Tier One members give positive response in the field. Ticket management integrated with augmented reality is a great tool for transitioning Tier Two members and Home Rule cities to reach compliance quickly. Many Tier Two members are only in the internal planning stages as of September 2019. Documenting discrepancies in GIS records using AR in the field and being able to give positive response to associated work tickets speeds up the process for most facility owners who are new to the Tier One requirements.  

For some fun, we brought our famous AR cornhole game for attendees to play between session breaks and found some serious cornhole enthusiasts in the crowd! Thank you, Colorado 811, for this opportunity to learn about damage prevention and how we can all contribute to a safer Colorado.

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Happy AR with Argis Solutions: Celebrating Three Years of Augmented Reality Solutions

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Last month, Argis Solutions celebrated its 3rd year in business with our inaugural “Happy AR” at The Celtic on Market in downtown Denver. We are proud to be a mile-high company, and we wanted our celebration to reflect our roots, what we have achieved over the past three years, and our commitment to investing in the local GIS community and Denver businesses and organizations. This casual meetup was well attended by many professionals in the Denver-area GIS industry.   

We asked attendees, “Are you seeing what we AR?” Sharing our augmented reality solutions, including  the Argis Lens,  our patented and proven mobile AR integration with ArcGIS, the answer we received was a resounding, “Yes!” Seeing the Lens in action provoked a lot of interest among our guests as they considered applications for their various fields of expertise. Some envisioned uses for emergency management planning and flood plain management, and others were excited about possible uses in forest management and lease enforcement. A common refrain we heard: “Wow! The Argis Lens has come a long way since the last time I looked at it!”

As an icebreaker, we offered the quintessential bar game cornhole with a twist -- in AR. This custom-designed augmented reality app was created by the Argis team especially for this event, showing one of the many ways we can serve local businesses with customer application development, especially in the “Reality Technologies” (AR, VR, MR).   

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No “Happy AR” celebration could be complete without door prizes! Our VP of sales, Brian Collison had a great time emceeing our hourly giveaways, and guests had a chance to win a DA1 antenna with one-month Catalyst (over $700 in value), a tile, and our snazzy Argis Solutions Happy AR hats and t-shirts!  Remarking on the evening, Argis Solutions CEO Brady Hustad said, “I was glad to celebrate with some awesome clients and friends in the industry everything Argis Solutions has done over the last few years and where we are going in the future. It was a lot of fun and I think everyone had a good time!”

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We were also thrilled to showcase a joint project we put together with Worker Studio Animation, bringing their 3D edutainment character Eugene “Cosmo” Nutt to life in AR. Cosmo attended the Happy AR in augmented reality, demonstrating the creative, engaging ways AR technology can be used to communicate and educate. This project is a great example of AR facilitating learning for museums and educational institutions. If you missed Cosmo, don’t worry! Worker Studio and Argis are currently developing early prototypes of Cosmo’s Classroom, an AR learning experience where students will be taught immersive lessons by Cosmo himself, right in their very own class or living room. The team is also collaborating to develop AR training solutions for the US Air Force under Worker Studio’s SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) contract from Summer of 2019. 

This fantastic celebration couldn’t take place without our sponsors. Thank you, AsteriFrontier PrecisionGIS Colorado, and Worker Studio Animation, for helping us share our augmented reality vision and investing in the local community. This was a wonderful chance to celebrate our first three years, connect with our industry friends, and make new ones! We look forward to the next part of our journey as we become the top provider of high-quality AR solutions in the Denver area.   

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2019 Colorado 811 5k: Know What’s Below

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On the picture-perfect Saturday morning of August 10 at 8:11 a.m., the Argis Solutions team joined hundreds of other runners and walkers in Arvada, CO for Colorado 811’s annual 5k. Argis had a group of 11, and our VP of sales, Brian Collison, placed 10th in the race! We also had some of our crew enthusiastically volunteering at the race’s water station.  

Colorado 811 hosts this run/walk each August to increase public awareness of the need to call 811 before digging and to highlight the safety message, “Know what’s below.” After the 5k, participants could attend a safety expo that included utility companies, Arvada Fire, safety demonstrations, music, prizes, and other giveaways.  

At the safety expo, Argis Solutions, our locally owned and operated business supporting the Rocky Mountain region, featured an augmented reality (AR) walking maze game for the public to try that garnered a lot of interest. The game was a fun way to showcase how AR can help you access real-time geolocational information. The Argis team also had a blast meeting excavators, utility stakeholders, and other safety-minded community members. A few of us even got to enjoy a few bucket rides in the Excel Energy utility bucket truck! 

Argis is grateful for Colorado 811’s commitment to serving the community, bringing attention to safer digging practices and sharing how damage prevention is important to everyone.  

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Augmented Reality and Public Works Emergency Planning: 3 Ways to Prepare for the Next Natural Disaster with AR

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Learn how our augmented reality visualizer, the Argis Lens, can be an effective tool in planning for the next natural disaster.

 By Alyssa Grant

As our climate shifts to greater extremes, natural disasters have increased in frequency. Floods, hurricanes, bomb cyclones, and tornadoes, including the recent ones that devastated Missouri, are the worst-case weather lottery that no one wants to win. Public works emergency planning is vital and being well-prepared before disaster strikes can save lives and prevent millions of dollars in damage. Many municipalities and counties, like Roanoke County, VA, are shifting to public-facing apps to keep the public informed about potential issues related to extreme weather. Augmented reality (AR) paired with GIS data can be an effective tool in ensuring your municipality and citizens are prepared well in advance.

1.     Quality-Check Your ArcGIS Data

Viewing ArcGIS data through our mobile augmented reality (AR) visualizer provides you with immediate, real-world context. When ArcGIS data is downloaded to our mobile app, the Argis Lens, users can easily visualize underground infrastructure and various flood scenarios. Looking at a 2D map requires translating two-dimensional data into a three-dimensional world. With the 3D visualization capabilities of the Lens, the work of translation is done for you, giving a clear picture of how GIS data exists in reality. The Lens allows you to double-check your data and see discrepancies between it and the 3D world in which we live. Use the Lens to confirm your GIS data’s accuracy so that your municipality can respond to emergencies with more precision.

 

2.     AR’s Utility in City Planning 

Yearly flooding is a way of life for many communities in the United States. As weather events continue to break historic records, areas vulnerable to flooding have expanded. Utilize the Argis Lens as part of your building planning to visualize different flooding scenarios. See with your own eyes, in the field, how 3, 6, or 12 feet of floodwater interacts with the topography and elevation in your city and make city planning choices that can withstand historic weather events. 

 

3.     AR Assisting in the Aftermath

After a tornado, flood, or hurricane, visual landmarks can be obliterated and elevation altered. If you have proactively improved your GIS data’s quality with the Argis Lens, it can also help locate infrastructure that might otherwise be difficult to find because of terrain and landmark changes, for instance, a natural gas valve that needs to be closed to prevent a potential explosion, because natural disasters create scenarios where response time is of the essence. The Lens could also be used in assisting in determining the last known location of people or facilities that have been affected, especially when the physical landscape has been changed beyond recognition.

 In the aftermath of extreme weather, a multitude of dangerous situations are created. Manhole covers can dislodge in flooding, endangering anyone nearby trying to maneuver through flood waters. The technology of the Lens can allow first responders to quickly determine where that danger might be present so that citizens can be warned to keep clear of the area.

 

Be Prepared with AR

“Expect the best, prepare for the worst.” Give yourself the advantage in public works emergency planning. Don’t be caught off guard. Harness the visualizing power of AR and see your data in a new way. Bring your GIS data to life with the Argis Lens.

Sea Turtle Solutions: Using ArcGIS to Protect an Endangered Species

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Partnering with Quantam Spatial, Argis Solutions uses a JavaScript web application developed with the Leaflet library to minimize adverse impact to sea turtles during dredging. 

By Alyssa Grant 

Watching footage of baby sea turtles struggle out of their eggs and clumsily head for the ocean, you find yourself holding your breath, cheering for them as they face daunting odds of survival. An estimated one in 1000 to one in 10,000 hatchlings reach adulthood. There is even more to root for—some sea turtle species have incredibly long migrations that take them several years and thousands of miles. These statistics underline the challenges the sea turtle faces and why it is endangered. 

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has been working with scientists and the dredging industry to identify ways protect endangered sea turtles while still allowing the important work of dredging to continue. Dredging, a form of excavation, offers valuable environmental benefits: beach reclamation, flooding prevention, as well as contaminant remediation. The question to answer: How could dredging operations safely co-exist with minimal harm to sea turtles? Recognizing the value of a digital approach in answering this question, BOEM approached Quantum Spatial (QSI), partnering with Argis Solutions, to assist them in solving this unique problem.

A massive aggregation of data related to the turtles' behavior on the Atlantic coast was gathered from publicly available data sources and scientific turtle studies conducted by QSI. BOEM’s goal was to use this data to determine the best locations and times of year to dredge.

QSI and Argis Solutions worked together to standardize the data for use in the solution. Recognizing the adeptness of ArcGIS at communicating GIS data quickly and clearly, they created a JavaScript web-based application developed with the Leaflet library in which users could actually view the estimated population of any given species, in any given area, at any given time. Now BOEM is able to plan dredging projects based on data rather than using arbitrary dredging windows.

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It is a simple, intuitive solution that protects endangered sea turtle populations while allowing dredging companies to continue their work. Even better: Users with little experience operating technology of this kind can easily interpret the data, assess the risk, and adjust accordingly. Protecting endangered species like sea turtles will continue to be a  complex global challenge, but creative digital solutions like this one are a big step in the right direction.

We've Been Featured Again in DP-Pro Magazine!

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DP-Pro, a publication for damage prevention professionals, has highlighted Argis Solutions’ collaboration with Indigo Beam and the City of Houston to create this cutting-edge system of data analysis using machine learning (ML) and computer vision (CV).  

The City of Houston’s investment in the developing technologies of CV and ML has streamlined their process for determining the pavement conditions of their massive 15,000 road lane miles. The use of CV and ML reduces the need for human analysis of large data sets, continuously improving itself as more data is captured. 

 The system continues to be fed thousands of images and videos, allowing operators to make quality decisions regarding their roadways. 

The benefits for the City of Houston include better cost analysis and quotes for resurfacing projects and a more sophisticated evaluation of various needs, like neighborhood assessment, allowing for better operational efficiency, citizen satisfaction, and potential for predictive planning. 

Recent CO811 Changes: Improving Excavation and Digging Safety in Colorado

Utility Notification Center of Colorado, CO811, an organization created to protect the underground infrastructure of the state and promote excavation and digging safety, has changes in effect for 2019. 

Electric lines, gas lines, cable lines, fluid pipelines—all are part of the complex underground world CO811 manages in partnership with utility owners. The CO811 call center is the point of contact for anyone who wishes to dig near or on public property. Anyone can call and request that underground assets be marked, a necessary step for any construction or maintenance project involving excavation. 

Once CO811 is notified, notifications are sent out to utility owners who might have underground utilities in the area. Then locators hired by each utility company come out and use different methods (mostly radio detection wands) to mark with either spray paint or flags where these underground assets are situated. This is a vital-- no one wants to accidentally hit a power line or a gas line. The Heather Gardens gas explosion in Aurora on November 16, 2018 demonstrates the tragic outcome that can occur during an accidental pipeline strike. This gas explosion, caused by workers striking a gas line while digging underground pathways, killed an 82- year-old woman who was a resident of the Heather Gardens senior community.

Accidents in the past have prompted the federal government to take a closer look at damage prevention procedures. According to a 2016 report on the protocols surrounding the Utility Notification Center of Colorado:

“The United States Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) conducted an adequacy evaluation of Colorado’s enforcement of its excavation damage prevention law, and determined that the enforcement is inadequate, which may eventually result in the withholding of federal funds from Colorado.” 

No doubt there is room for improvement, and without some changes, funding is on the line. 

Colorado took action in 2018 to address these issues with Senate Bill 18-167. On May 25 of 2018, Governor Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 18-167 into law that created a new commission, changed things up for Tier Two members, and changed things for Home Rule cities. 

Effective August 8, 2018, the Underground Damage Prevention Safety Commission was given the authority to review complaints and fine for infractions as defined by the new One Call Law. This is new. Until now Colorado has not had the authority to fine anybody. This will hopefully incentivize utility owners, locators and diggers to pay better attention to safety protocols. The commission will also have the ability to review complaints. 

What does this bill mean for Tier Two members? Tier Two members have until January 1, 2021 to convert their membership status to Tier One and update their underground facility registration with CO811. Conversion is mandatory on January 1, 2019. 

What’s different for Home Rule cities such as Aurora or Colorado Springs and the Safety Commission? Home Rule cities can opt out of the safety commission, but if they do then they need to create their own enforcement commissions. These enforcement commissions need to effectively help mitigate the risks involved with digging. 

The new bill will help promote excavation and digging safety as well as help to preserve Colorado’s infrastructure. Tier Two members converting to Tier Ones, the creation of the commission, the establishment of a penalty plan, and the ability to review complaints are steps in the right direction to improve the safety and surrounding procedures for all parties involved in the digging process. 

If you are GIS manager and want to know how we can assist you in improving your GIS data management, please contact us. Argis Solutions is the leading company for connecting GIS data with augmented reality, and we want to help you. 

 

Colorado | PHMSA. 2018. Colorado | PHMSA. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.phmsa.dot.gov/safety-awareness/pipeline/colorado. [Accessed 08 November 2018]. 

Medium. 2018. A Look at Six Recent Oil and Gas Disasters in Colorado. [ONLINE] Available at: https://medium.com/the-colorado-lookout/a-look-at-five-recent-oil-and-gas-disasters-in-colorado-1ae0e3b8dee4. [Accessed 04 November 2018]. 

CO811. 2018. SENATE BILL 18-167 Signed MAY 25, 2018 - CO811. [ONLINE] Available at: http://colorado811.org/senate-bill-18-167-to-be-signed-may-18-2018/. [Accessed 04 November 2018].

Augmented Reality and Animation: Cosmically Engaging Museum Visitors at the Space Foundation’s Discovery Center

Argis Solutions collaborates with Worker Studio to bring the Space Foundation’s interactive augmented reality character to life for education and engagement at the Discovery Center in Colorado Springs, CO.

By Alyssa Grant

Recognizing the engaging power of augmented reality (AR) and its value as an educational tool, the Space Foundation enlisted animation company Worker Studio and augmented reality experts Argis Solutions to develop an exciting educational tool for the Space Foundation’s Discovery Center. Worker Studio crafted the transmedia edutainment character, astronaut Eugene “Cosmo” Nutt, and Argis Solutions created the AR platform that brings Cosmo alive in app form so that he can interact with his audience in three-dimensional settings.

Cosmo had his augmented reality debut April 8-11 at the 35th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, the annual gathering of space professionals sponsored by the Space Foundation. His mission at the Space Symposium was to host a prototype for a planned multimedia exhibit at the Discovery Center, demonstrating how AR can foster deeper educational engagement when paired with traditional museum exhibits. In the future, educators at the Space Foundation hope to use him in app-based learning, augmented reality, short films, virtual classrooms, and even as an animated talk show host that guests and audiences can interact with in real time. 

Worker Studio’s cosmically delightful character Cosmo has been in development for years. His AR capabilities were brought to life by merging Maya, a computer animation and modeling software, with Unity, a 3D game development platform. “One of the hardest things to do is create amazing movie quality graphics and animations while keeping in mind the limited capabilities on mobile devices,” said Chris Anderson, vice president of augmented reality at Argis Solutions. “With the new features of Unity 3D, and the always increasing power of phones and tablets, it is now becoming a reality.” These technological advancements give authenticity to the real-world interactions Cosmo has with his audience, fostering deeper engagement. Speaking about the collaboration between Worker Studio and Argis, Anderson remarked, “It was an amazing opportunity to get to partner with animators who have worked on blockbuster movies and bring their creations to life through AR.”

The feeling is mutual. Reflecting on the project, Jason Cangialosi, partner and minister of propaganda at Worker Studio, added, “Working with the team at Argis opened up a new universe of possibilities in augmented reality. I see it like they helped us build the rocket that got Cosmo on the Moon, and now we’re ready to go to Mars!”

The Space Foundation isn’t alone in appreciating the benefits of AR. Increasingly, museums across the globe are finding creative ways to merge AR with their exhibits. In the spirit of Pokemon Go, the National Museum of Singapore’s exhibit The Story of a Forest allowed visitors to search and capture flora and fauna that were found in the exhibit’s botanical drawings. Jennifer Billock writing for Smithsonian.com notes, “With augmented reality, museums are superimposing the virtual world right over what’s actually in front of you, bringing exhibits and artifacts to life in new ways.” The interactive nature of AR combined with the flexibility of mobile devices allows museums to draw visitors from their living room to the exhibit or experience parts of the exhibit from the comfort of their living room. Younger generations, with their deeply digitalized childhoods, could also find more meaningful engagement when AR is merged with museum exhibits.

One of the next missions on the horizon for Cosmo is to connect with Space Foundation visitors at the upcoming Space in Our State exhibit this fall. Colorado is a national leader in school and business contribution to the advancement of space exploration. Space in Our State will allow visitors to bring Colorado to life as they learn about our state’s important role in helping space programs achieve lift-off. Interested in becoming a sponsor of this landmark exhibit?  Want to get behind something that demonstrates the importance of space exploration to communities throughout Colorado? Visit www.spacefoundation.org/donate to contribute to this exciting mission.