Just last month I had the pleasure of working with Hart EMC (Hartwell, GA) to implement a new asset inspection program using ArcGIS Online. Hart EMC decided to purchase 30 iPads for their field crews instead of the more expensive Windows tablets or tough books.
Upon arrival I was quite impressed to find that Russell Shirley, Mgr of Technical Services, was already using the iPads with a disconnected tile-based GIS map that he had created using the Esri iOs samples. But Hart was ready to take the system to a new level to enable their inspection program using real time integration to the back office.
I wanted to write this article to capture some of the new and interesting techniques that Russell and I used during this implementation.
If you've read my previous post on conducting pole inspections on your iPad you are familiar with the pattern we used to enable the solution using ArcGIS Server. In that solution we were creating new inspection points on the map to capture the inspection details. At Hart we wanted to switch this up to create a targeted inspection program. As you may have guessed we use SSP's Nightly Batch Suite (NBS) framework to create a series of batch applications to enable the solution.
The first configurable batch application was responsible for moving targeted assets from their native ArcFM™ versioned feature classes into new inspection feature classes. The batch app allows you to configure the source and destination classes, the facility ID fields, the target inspection year, and even a pattern for determining the default values for the inspections.
For example, for a pole inspection we would default the Anchor inspection fields to N/A if there was no Anchor assembly object related to the pole.
The same was applied for transformers using a purely spatial relationship. If no transformer was present on a pole or pad we defaulted all the transformer inspection fields to N/A. If a transformer was present, we defaulted the rated KVA inspection field using the data from the transformer record.
Our goal was to set up each inspection record with as many defaults as possible to limit the time an inspector would have to spend editing the record. We created the batch app in a manner that would allow Hart to easily add additional inspection classes at any time in the future, including using any database or spatial relationship to fuel various inspection fields.
The next cool thing we did within the batch app was to re-project the inspection features from their original coordinate system of Stateplane Georgia over into WGS84, as we found that ArcGIS Online would render them more quickly if they matched the basemap layers.
The batch app runs nightly and will pick up any new assets that are added to the ArcFM™ feature classes and will automatically add them into the corresponding inspection class with no user interaction. We defaulted the InspectedBy field to "Incomplete" which allows us to symbolize the incomplete inspections using specific symbology on the map.
After a single run of the application we had our pre-populated targeted inspections.
Hart EMC had already implemented ArcGIS Server 10.1 which made publishing our feature and mapping services very easy from right within ArcMap. We published a mapping service of all of the ArcFM™ facility data to use as reference data and then we published a feature service for each inspection class.
We ended up with a pretty nice web map that showed all of the targeted inspections as red features:
We could obviously switch between any of the Esri basemaps using the WebMap. One limitation we ran into, however, was that the Esri basemaps limit how far we can zoom in on the map. In some congested areas we were not able to achieve the scale that we needed to be able to see the detailed assets.
To give the inspectors an option for this scenario, we also published a custom Hart EMC basemap using a mapping service published with only land layers turned on. This basemap was available to us just like the Esri basemaps and we could switch between them interactively:
Using the custom basemap allowed us to zoom in to the same scales we could achieve in ArcMap.
There isn't too much new to report here, but it's still my favorite part. The GPS function is very important to Hart EMC and we were able to test it out on our iPads.
When you begin walking from location to location it actually adds a directional arrow to the map indicating your heading. Here, I walked out the back of the building and started heading for the pole line:
As I approached the pole I clicked on it to enter the inspection data. This was a good example because this pole actually had a meter on it with a bad LCD.
I captured the date, flagged the LCD as being bad, and marked the inspection as being completed by Tim (my inspector persona):
Finally, I grabbed a quick picture of the LCD for good measure (in case the guys in the back office didn't believe me):
And with that I submitted my inspection.
The main difference in this implementation is that as I complete the inspection on this asset, the symbology on the map changes to give me visual feedback of the area(s) that have I have completed - note the triangle has turned from red to green:
This feature also allows the folks in the back office to watch my inspection progress in real time via a WebMap, via ArcMap, or even via the new Esri Operations Dashboard! As I continue my inspection path it continually turns from red to green which makes it easy to visualize the completion details and even easier to pick up the next day right where I left off.
This wouldn't be an SSP article if we didn't talk about how we empowered the data in the back office. At Hart EMC we went all the way.
We created another SSP Nightly Batch Suite (NBS) application that would review the inspection data each night. It is very configurable and allows for the detection of any non-standard inspection field values that indicate that maintenance needs to review and/or follow up on the asset records.
At Hart EMC there are two individuals who wanted to get daily exception reports emailed to them. Our goal was to only include the records that needed attention and then to create a report that easily drew their attention to the irregular values.
We accomplished this by generating a report that is emailed out to a list of folks. We highlighted the irregular fields yellow on each record which makes the review quick and easy.
We also called out the number of pictures that were attached to the record (A), added a column with a unique link for each asset to Hart EMC's internal ArcGIS Server web app for easy viewing (B), and even added a couple extra columns to allow the to track resolution details (C):
This report makes the data actionable in an effective, automated manner. It gets the intel into the right hands much quicker than the previous paper process and provides a much more standardized approach for the collection and aggregation of this field data.
The third and final SSP Nightly Batch Suite (NBS) application we put in place is intended to be run once a year at the end of the inspection cycle.
It first converts all of the completed inspection records from the ArcGIS Online WGS84 inspection classes into an archive feature class back in Stateplane Georgia. It also moves any pictures or other attachments to keep them intact with the original inspection record. After the completed data has been moved it cleans out any inspection data for that current target year.
This process will effectively archive and clean up the active inspection class making them ready to accept the targeted inspections for the next inspection year. And thus we start the cycle over again.
This end-to-end solution took a new spin on ArcGIS Online inspections by using targeted inspection records in the fields. We used a ton of back office automation to create a configurable and repeatable inspection cycle. And we empowered the data by getting exceptions into the hands of the operations folks who need it the most.
After completing the project with SSP Innovations, HEMC's Russell Shirley commented:
"We needed to get the Inspections project up and running quickly so we leveraged SSP’s experience and tool set along with ArcGIS Online and had a working solution in one week. That’s the kind of solutions a Co-Op with limited GIS resources like ours need."
Overall I would call this a very successful ArcGIS Online story, and it was a heck of a lot of fun to put it together! My special thanks to Russell Shirley for teaming up with SSP on this endeavor!