The utilization of digital data for constructing and sustaining road projects has become a common practice in the infrastructure industry. However, for states such as Minnesota, who are pioneering the use of Digital As-Builts (DABs), the road to innovative project solutions goes back more than a decade.
Transportation agencies and public safety departments both have a major stake in the prompt identification and reaction to roadway events such as collisions, vehicle breakdowns, fires and medical emergencies. Quickly exchanging data between public safety and transportation agencies helps in better organizing resources to clear roads, boosting safety, and alleviating congestion.
A decade’s worth of digital transformation: MnDOT’s use of digital as-builts
In 2011, Minnesota Department of Transportation’s (MnDOT) personnel in the Twin Cities Metro Area discovered that digital as-built (DABs) plans indicating the completion of crucial assets were not being received by the people who needed them. This issue directly conflicted with the purpose of DABs, which is to provide real-time data collection and sharing. That same year, the agency established a regulation requiring contractors to provide locations and other details for certain assets.
MnDOT created one of the first Transportation Asset Management Plans (TAMPs), a tool for agencies to demonstrate how it achieves its goals, in the country in 2014. Five years later, the agency set up a TAMP to identify resources that could be suitable for DABs and the way the collected data would be gathered for various business operations and procedures.
MnDOT’s TAMP was created to ensure a cohesive vision and culture that binds all MnDOT staff, from the highest to the lowest levels. This is necessary for a successful cross-functional and statewide execution of DABs. As the TAMP was developed, the agency gained valuable lessons on risk, asset investment strategies and required data types which, in turn, formed the later development of DABs.
As well as providing information for asset management applications, DABs are used for digital project delivery and digital twins, with BIM (building information modeling) improving and promoting collaboration. MnDOT intends to coordinate their digital project delivery with BIM in order to meet their asset management needs.
MnDOT and Minnesota State Patrol join forces with combined dispatcher platform
Last year, MnDOT and the Minnesota State Patrol (MSP) started using a combined dispatching platform that allows each agency to swiftly receive information about road incidents. This real-time feed contains data such as geographic coordinates, event type, start and end times, present location of response cars and comments added by the traffic management center (TMC) operators.
With the live feed and incident comment fields exchanged between them, both agencies are able to more effectively communicate with one another, allowing relevant response and incident details to be shared in both directions. Access to the State Patrol Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system has drastically cut the time needed to inform the TMC of roadway incidents. This has resulted in a prompter delivery of information to drivers, a swifter allocation of service patrol resources and a more productive response overall.
Since then, the agency has provided funding for several digital innovations that helped mainstream the adoption of Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD). These funds covered the purchase of computers, software, licenses and other supporting infrastructure for TMC and Safety Service Patrol (FIRST) vehicles to utilize the CAD system.
Further developments have enabled MnDOT’s Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS), referred to as IRIS, to be able to automatically export data and provide traveler information and analysis tools. By having more accurate data and timestamps, MnDOT and MSP have been able to better manage performance and response to roadway incidents.