A Commercial and Residential Mobile Home Park Finds Value in AR: How the Argis Lens is Providing Positive Results for Crawford Properties, LLC

The Argis Lens, a mobile app that integrates ArcGIS data with augmented reality, helps a commercial and residential mobile home park in El Jebel, Colorado visualize and refine their GIS data, saving time and improving safety outcomes.

by Alyssa Grant

Improved safety outcomes, more accurate GIS data, and time savings are all positive results Crawford Properties, LLC, a commercial and residential mobile home park, is seeing after adopting the Argis Lens as part of their utility location process. Located in El Jebel, Colorado, Crawford Properties consists of approximately 289 mobile home lots, 15 apartments and rental homes, 29 commercial units, and an assortment of tenants renting open space for storage. They are a Tier One member of Colorado 811 with a total team of six field crew members, three of which are certified locators. The locator crew handles approximately 10 locates a month. 

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Even before Colorado’s recent Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE) legislation was passed, Crawford’s property manager and owner, Prentice Hubbell, began to look towards augmented reality (AR) as a possible solution for their business needs. For almost 60 years, foreman Noel Crawford gathered an almost encyclopedic knowledge of Crawford Properties’ 5.4 square miles of underground assets-- water, sewer, gas, and electrical infrastructure that supports life and business for El Jebel’s 1600 residents. The sewer infrastructure consists of plastic piping with no tracer wires, so it wasn’t a simple process for others to access what Noel had mentally catalogued through his years of work. With Noel’s well-earned retirement on the horizon, Hubbell began to consider the Argis Lens, a mobile app that translates ArcGIS feature services into augmented reality in real time, as the solution for cataloguing and communicating the valuable information that was currently only accessible through Noel.

The Argis Lens was attractive to Hubbell because he recognized that its integration with ArcGIS would allow his crew to create a database of this geolocational information, enabling any of them to access it quickly and confidently. His newer generation of technical-savvy field crew members were comfortable with the intuitive layout of the Lens app, so implementation was easy. Communication was now streamlined. Immediately, in one if its first uses, they noticed that operating the Lens made it much easier to perform sprinkler system maintenance on the town’s baseball field. Spatial confusion was quickly becoming a thing of the past.

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Crawford Properties’ next step is to complete the rollout of the new AR Ticketing Management System (ARTMS) to streamline the process Crawford uses to show positive response required of all Tier One members for Colorado 811 transactions in their area. The system already ingests Colorado 811 marking requests and allows users to give a positive response directly from the field within the application. Tracking workers, ticket assignments, and situational awareness in AR for the crew member working in the area of interest associated with the ticket are just some of the additional benefits of using the system. 

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What does a workflow for Crawford Properties look like for common issues, for instance, a water leak? First, a tenant calls in a leak, and Colorado 811 locates gas and electric lines. Then the Crawford team makes their own marks to denote their own infrastructure, and the crew starts digging. After the assets are uncovered, using the Lens, they create a photographic record, make the needed repairs, and update their geolocational information so that in the future they have the benefit of a more precise GIS record. Hubbell’s advice on implementing the Argis Lens into a workflow: “Just start. Start. Start with your street signs. Then add your roads. And eventually you will have good GIS data. Add notes in your attribute area for the field team so they know. Add ‘just a guess’ if you aren’t sure. At least it gives them something.” Hubbell remains pleased by the results Crawford’s field crews have been able to achieve with the Argis Lens in their virtual toolbelts.

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.

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 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.

Silver Lake Construction Uses ARCAD App to Improve Accuracy in Foundation Construction

Argis Solutions recent work with Silver Lake Construction Company has been highlighted in depth by Chris Andrews on Esri’s ArcGIS blog. Andrews recognizes the value augmented reality (AR) adds to GIS data, noting: 

 “As a product manager driving 3D, BIM, and other related software efforts at Esri, I’m always looking for applications of geospatial technology that can improve the lives of real users.  We get asked about AR a ton and whether through partner apps, such as Argis Solutions, or through development using our ArcGIS Runtime SDKs, it’s great to be able to report that real partners and customers are building AR applications that are transforming the experience of GIS in the field.  I expect to see much more like this in the future.”

Silver Lake Construction Company builds residential foundations in the Las Vegas, NV area. First on the construction site, Silver Lake must be accurate and efficient. Brett Willis, Silver Lake’s president, was researching avenues for increasing his company’s accuracy in construction. His question: Did a tool exist that could help his crew dig foundation cuts on bare-earth plots with better than two-inch accuracy?

The answer to Willis’ question was found in augmented reality technology. The Argis Lens, a geospatial AR app created by Argis, projects ArcGIS data into the real world using a mobile device. For this particular problem, the Lens was modified to help Willis meet his goal of two-inch accuracy for foundation construction. Typically, the Lens uses onboard GPS within the mobile device or paired GPS units to achieve the required accuracy, but Silver Lake’s accuracy needs were more exacting. 

 Up to the challenge, the team at Argis created a new application, ARCAD, which uses computer vision technology. Computer vision enables a computer to see something and make a decision that a human no longer has to make. Photos of fruit affixed to stakes were used to mark known locations on the construction site. Through computer vision, ARCAD was able to recognize these complex images, anchor the precise geospatial location, and project the building plan onto the ground. While still in the field-testing stage, ARCAD is meeting the 2-inch accuracy requirements.

 Overall, the Silver Lake crew is cautiously optimistic about ARCAD’s ability to streamline their work process while allowing them to achieve the high level of accuracy needed for foundation construction. Looking to the future, Silver Lake sees many additional possibilities for further ARCAD app development. 

North Carolina’s Vision Zero Map: Making Sense of Traffic Crash Patterns

The Institute for Transportation Research and Education at North Carolina State University wanted to project the number of deaths per year resulting from risky driving behavior onto a centralized map that could be sorted by different demographics and updated by multiple sources. The solution? The North Carolina Vision Zero Map. This map was a collaborative initiative to help eliminate roadway deaths and injuries in the state. The aim was to create a single map of deaths by year in order to recognize and understand patterns and allow for easier interpretation of multiple data sets from different sources.  

This map enables policymakers and the public to see what types of accidents  specific geographic areas experience compared to other areas, and it allows them to view information sorted by different time periods, age of drivers, or type of incident. Seeing this data visually on a map gives a clear picture of the patterns that emerge over time in specific areas.  

The Vision Zero Map was launched at the end of November 2017 with ArcGIS API for JavaScript developed by Argis Solutions. Argis Solutions created a data warehouse system for the multiple data sources that would be displayed together on the same map. They also helped with UI (user interface) development, producing a responsive design for both web and mobile users.  

This system allows multiple sources of data to converge, building a more complete picture of traffic crashes because the data is aggregated together in a sensible manner. Patterns are more easily seen and detected, and the objective is to find solutions and bring awareness to what caused the accidents in the past. Eventually, the hope is to reduce traffic deaths to zero. This map is paving the way to a better driving future for the state of North Carolina.  

Better Road Analysis with Machine Learning and Image Recognition

By Raj Shah and Steve Loo

The City of Houston (COH), Texas is now actively identifying which roads to repair using a combination of ArcGIS, Machine Learning, and Image Recognition.  

The COH area contains approx. 15,000 lane miles that are heavily used and need regular repairs. In the past, the city relied on an Street Surface Assessment Vehicle (SSAV) to inspect and provide data for recommended maintenance for this immense quantity of roadways. The data gathered by the SSAV resulted in a large amount of GIS data that required a system able to quantify and interpret that huge amount of data. While the system already in place was somewhat effective, in 2015 Houston decided to re-purpose a single SSAV vehicle into what would be called a Ride-Quality Measurement Vehicle (RQMV).  This updated vehicle would add advanced capability to Houston’s road monitoring and maintenance programs.

Houston selected Indigo Beam (who sub-contracted to Argis Solutions and the International Cybernetics Corporation) who implemented a machine learning and image recognition project utilizing this re-purposed RQMV. During this project, this newly created team provided both physical and technological upgrades to the RQMV van, enabling Houston with minimal investment, to update what had become a technologically outdated asset.  

The project began with the Street Surface Assessment Vans driving the city and rating the roadways using the International Roughness Index (IRI) scores and PCI (Pavement Condition Index) scores while capturing video of the streets for the entire City of Houston.  Once the SSAV data gathering was completed, the newly upgraded Ride-Quality Measurement Vehicle (RQMV) was sent out to record and rate project work sites and problem areas both before and after road work and maintenance repair had been completed.  By adding the RQMV assessment and combining the rating work between the larger SSAV runs and updated RQMV data into their workflow, the City of Houston generated a wealth of robust ArcGIS data. 

As a central part of the project, the Argis Team designed and built a sophisticated migration tool to pull the data collected and move it to Houston’s data servers.  This carefully crafted migration tool pulls files, interprets those files, allows selection of critical information from those files and compiles that data appropriately and as needed into Houston’s database. With a system in place to monitor and track this of data, Houston should be able to improve current workflows, assist with determining the priority of roadwork based on network or council district.

The application of machine learning combined with image analysis and recognition to a Public Works management system (SSAV/StreetSaver systems)  will assist with creating valuable outcomes for the City.   This advanced system continues to be fed thousands of images and videos, allowing Houston operators to make quality decisions regarding their roadways. Whether gathered in meeting conference rooms or from individual offices, Houston Public Works management can immediately know the ride-quality condition of a lane that was driven in the wheel path for any given road, the possible maintenance requirements of that road and hold contractors responsible for the work they provide.

Neighborhood pavement analysis was an additional deliverable from the project. The City of Houston now has an additional tool to analyze and rate neighborhood pavements.  This advanced analysis also allows the City of Houston to have an additional tool to assist with spreading out maintenance where most needed city-wide across Council Districts.

Houston’s data gathering process remains active and ongoing.  The more data the system is given, the more accurately the system continues to predict when the roads will need repairs.  With the help of the Argis team, Houston continues to make practical sense of their GIS roadway pavement data.  Argis Solutions along with their partners Indigo Beam and International Cybernetics were excited to be the creators of this first-of-its kind project and for the efficiencies it provided to the City of Houston Public Works.

Broomfield Simplifies Cemetery Plot Management by Extending Web AppBuilder

In Michigan last February,  two sisters discovered, to their shock and horror, that the cemetery where they had buried their brother 15 years prior had lost him. No headstone, no records, nothing. They desperately tried to locate him, but their attempts have been fruitless. Heartbroken and dismayed, they are still dealing with the aftershock and harsh reality that their brother was somehow misplaced.

How does this happen? How does a cemetery lose vital information and misplace someone?

Arguably, the biggest challenge is data management. Hard copy maps get lost, destroyed, or simply crumble over time. Records can be misplaced, and eventually the people who knew who was buried where also die.

Fortunately, geospatial data can change all of that.

In fact, Broomfield, Colorado will soon be home to a brand-new section of cemetery, and its interment staff is among the first to be equipped with an interactive tool to manage their data more efficiently with ArcGIS mapping at its foundation.

Argis Solutions has developed a customized Web AppBuilder widget that builds upon the current process for buying cemetery plots. It's a workflow app: First, a customer is shown which plots are available, indicated by a particular color. Next, when a plot is chosen, the app changes the plot's color and creates a PDF report detailing the legal agreement the customer will adhere to. Once the newly signed document has been scanned back into the system by the cemetery administration—and payment is received—the app automatically updates the plot with a new color to reflect its purchased status.

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The widget also allows the interment staff to perform surname searches, and family information will be geographically linked to real cemetery plots. All past records will be loaded into the map and made searchable as well, making this technology a powerful tool for tracking important information. This technology will empower the cemetery staff to quickly and efficiently find records, and their corresponding locations, allowing staff members to confidently provide the best service possible for those looking for plots.

While most cemeteries are accustomed to paper record keeping or static maps, having a searchable, dynamic, color-coded map capable of creating PDF reports and keeping track of the purchasing process will undoubtedly save time and frustration for all parties involved. This unique way of extending ArcGIS that embraces the workflow process for cemetery administration makes a lot of sense.

Practical, helpful, and available in real-time, this Web AppBuilder widget is just one more way Argis Solutions is helping a client meet their real-world needs by extending ArcGIS.

If you are interested in exploring how Argis Solutions can help meet your company's real-world needs, set up a call here. We want to hear from you!

Mitigating Overweight Freight: GIS Data Analysis and Widget Development for NCSU-ITRE

The Argis Solutions' GIS consulting team has lent our expertise in a number of different ways in association with the Institute for Transportation Research and Education (ITRE) of North Carolina State University. We have created analysis and visualization tools for the NC Vision Zero program. The federal Vision Zero project aims to lower highway deaths to zero.

Our consultants provide support for the Size and Weights Department as they control overweight freight on North Carolina highways, protecting the quality of the roads. Overweight freight tends to damage and degrade road ways over time, making them more dangerous to drive on and wasting tax payer money in repairs. Our efforts have supplied the North Carolina State Highway Patrol (NCSHP) with more real-time data to generate planned patrols, lowering incidences. The result of these visualizations is that the NCSHP with NCSU-ITRE have been able to lower traffic deaths and create a safer driving experience throughout the state of North Carolina.

The Institute for Transportation Research and Education (ITRE) is an institutional center located at NC State University. Chartered by the North Carolina General Assembly in 1978, ITRE conducts surface and air transportation research, training, and technical support activities for municipal, state, federal, and international clients in order to address critical transportation issues. ITRE is committed to developing leadership in its study of transportation issues through fostering analytical thinking, integrating technology in education and research, serving as a catalyst for problem solving, and cultivating professionals and students dedicated to excellence in transportation.

Mitigating Risk by Visualizing Hidden Assets with AR

Esri Case Study: Whiting Petroleum 

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Esri recently released a new case study titled Mitigating Risk by Visualizing Hidden Assets with Augmented Reality, which details how Argis Solutions is providing real return on investment for Whiting Petroleum’s One Call Department. This paper delves deeper into how Whiting is using the field ready Argis® Framework and Lens to improve their geospatial data on remote wellpads. With this software and mobile application, Whiting Petroleum saves not just time and money, but are now able to quality check the geospatial data as they locate, which improves safety for their underground assets as well as for the technicians and contractors who work with them:  

Coupling Esri® GIS with Argis in Whiting’s One Call department has enabled the company to save an average of 30 minutes locating each asset. For Whiting, a company that locates thousands of assets a year, this saves a huge amount of time, resources, and money. The new process reduces paperwork, eliminates time-consuming analysis, and provides a higher level of quality assurance. Whiting field staff can now perform their operations more efficiently and effectively while maximizing the company’s return on investment.

Whiting is not the only company taking advantage of this new technology made accessible by Argis Solutions. The cost of our annual licensing fee is minimal compared to the amount of time, money and ultimately lives saved. We invite you to try the Argis Framework and Lens for yourself and see how AR will change how you do business in the field.