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.
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.
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.
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.