Montana is the 4th largest state in the U.S. by land area, covering almost 150,000 square miles. With a population of 1.1 million, it ranks 48th in population density. Montana’s Department of Transportation (MDT) was using paper permits to manage utility work on its highways. This method was inefficient and time consuming. Paper records were kept in filing cabinets making it time consuming to retrieve historical information and easy to misplace or lose important documents. MDT decided to migrate to paperless utility permits and deploy a digital utility as-built data repository for utilities installed on their highways.
In 2018 MDT selected GEO.works as the utility permitting and as-built solution. When utility owners apply for a permit, they can use the map interface to draw proposed alignments, staging areas, and work zones or upload Shape files. GEO.works analyzes the work location with MDT’s GIS layers to automatically capture location coordinates, route and milepost, MDT District, County, City, environmentally sensitive areas, etc. Applicants are required to answer a series of screening questions and provide additional information to meet MDT’s review requirements. Utility attributes such as utility type (gas/electric/communications/water), size, distribution/transmission, and material are also entered. GEO.works uses shot clocks, automated routing, reports and automated procedures to assist MDT and the applicant in reviewing and approving the permit. GEO.works reduces MDT staff effort by requiring applicants to enter all required information, and automated routing and reviews based on business rules. Users have quick access to all interactions and documents exchanged during review.
After approval, the permittee can use GEO.works to notify MDT as work progresses, from mobilization and traffic control to final inspection and restoration. MDT has an internal dashboard with color-coded status of all permits. MDT users can search, sort and filter by attributes, and select a permit to view, edit, or take other actions. The same information is viewable through a map dashboard showing color-coded permit status (pending, approved, active, closed). Clicking on the map feature brings up basic permit information and a link to all permit data. External users have the same capabilities, with view and edit access limited to their permits.
Utility owners are required to upload as-built location data and reconcile any differences between the proposed and final installation. Once location and attribute data are reconciled, MDT has a 3D as-built model in the database. The utility as-built data MDT captures through the permitting process are available to MDT for operations, project design and construction. The GIS map interface can be used to view the data which can be exported in various formats for use in CAD. MDT’s success was recognized by the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) – recipient of the 2020 Recognition Award, and by the ACEC of Montana – recipient of the 2020 Studies, Research, and Consulting Honor award.