Iowa using Esri’s Survey123 software for improved pavement management


The Iowa Department of Transportation (Iowa DOT) has used geographic information system (GIS) technology from global mapping company Esri to help it manage its highway assets.

Esri’s Survey123 for ArcGIS software has helped the agency in a variety of ways, with one particular success being an updated workflow for collecting sample data in the field, and submitting that information (with the sample) to an Iowa DOT Materials Lab for testing. The new process using the Survey123 software has drastically reduced the time spent filling out ‘Form 193’.

Previously, Iowa DOT staff spent more than 30 minutes preparing for each inspection project, and another 5-10 minutes filling out Form 193 while out in the field. Using Survey123 for the same project, it now takes inspectors five minutes to initially fill out the form, and then 2-3 minutes to fill out subsequent forms.

Iowa DOT manages six districts and 14 field construction engineer offices, with approximately 157 full-time inspectors and 150 maintenance employees, all equipped with tablets loaded with the Esri software. Due to the amount of data that needs to be collected, Iowa DOT’s system uses surveys with drop-down menus, and the compact format of Survey123’s interface provides structured fields, barcodes, photos and signatures, which are widely used to provide critical information about specific data collections.

Iowa DOT has found that the biggest advantage of using Survey123 is that the collected samples have GIS location data associated with them. If there is an issue with a certain type of material, the agency can pinpoint where within the project it was sampled, and calculate where it was incorporated.

This provides a significant benefit in pavement asset management, as Iowa DOT can use this location data and combine it with the sample’s test data to track how pavements have been performing over time. Due to the number of freeze/thaw cycles that Iowa’s roadway pavement undergoes every season, the ability to access ‘heaving and faulting’ data is invaluable.

The quick and easy data access that Survey123 provides helps Iowa DOT determine the most cost-effective way to repair the pavement and make roads safer in the process. Previously, Iowa DOT partnered with contractors and other agencies to monitor ‘test sections’ of pavement and track historical performance.

Due to the capabilities of the Survey123 software, the agency can now manage all its pavement as ‘test sections’, as it has access to all the data in a format that can be easily evaluated and analyzed.

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).