Custom GIS Application for Community Relations

Location: Wallingford, Conn.

Client: Northeast Utilities

As part of the $1 billion program management contract to design and manage the construction of an 80-mile electrical transmission line through southwestern Connecticut, Burns & McDonnell built a geographic information system (GIS) application from the ground up to address the community relations concerns of this project. The application allows construction managers, subcontractors, public relations, real estate, environmental, engineering, material managers, schedulers, the controller and the program manager to share data real-time.

Safe Software’s FME translation software converts AutoCAD, MicroStation and PLS-CADD design drawings into Google Earth keyhole markup language (kml) files that are linked to attributes stored in Primavera’s Expedition project management software, Primavera’s P3E/C scheduling software, and a variety of other MS Excel and Access sources.

Superintendents are equipped with WiFi cards and mobile office stands so they can access the information and monitor progress from the project site. In addition, community relations  professionals log public complaints and action items that appear on the GIS model. This immediately alerts superintendents and enables quick action.

Team members can zoom in on the properties, houses and tree lines affected by the project. Properties with “notices” attached are red-flagged so that team members can address the residents’ concerns before beginning work on the property. The program keeps a history of all issues until resolved.

“Collaboration across the team, including contractors, is essential. This creates one central location to stay ahead of issues and avoid miscommunication,” says Brett Williams, program manager. “We are currently mitigating 90-95 percent of the issues. On average we make one mistake a week, but our goal is to be 100 percent. With this program, that goal is attainable. It helps us address why the mistake happened, who made it and how to correct it.”

Clients love the control it offers. “In fact, the NEEWS (NewEngland East West Solution) project made the program mandatory” Williams says. The project team has been innovative in using new software since the inception of the project. The team was one of the first to deploy Expedition 10.0, the Web-based project tracking system, on a project of this size. But the innovation is more than Expedition. Its integration with multiple data sources has created a unique management tool.

Read more about this program management software tool >