The NY DOT city transportation workers in charge of construction projects use tablets to access and review construction permits, as this shift to paperless operations has proved much faster than the process of lugging permits from site to site, according to StateTech Magazine. Inspectors used to complete forms by hand during site visits, and then dropped them off at the end of the day to be entered into the computer system. Vincent Maniscalco, assistant commissioner of DOT’s Highway Inspection and Quality Assurance division, told StateTech that, “We’ve gone from the Stone Age and dealing with stacks of paper to just going to sites with handheld devices that capture all the information.”
The decision to go paperless is catching on at a number of government agencies in order to boost productivity and efficiency. The appeal of the newer tablets is the lowered cost. The tablet devices work well for mobile employees because of their portable and user-friendly features, according to IT administrators. Choosing the right tablet, either Android, Apple iOS, or Windows, depends on the agency’s needs and budget.
Software also has to be taken into account when choosing a tablet. NYC has developed its own custom software for the transition from paper to digital. The city first implemented tablets in 2005, and used a text-based application to complete forms, which was not wireless. Inspectors still had to visit the office at the end of each day to upload the results and download new assignments. However, this April, the DOT launched a web-based construction inspection app called DASH that lets inspectors at certain sites use the city’s private wireless network to transmit and receive reports. Over the last two years, the city has also replaced old tablets with more cost-effective and lightweight alternatives. Currently, most inspectors use HP EliteBook convertible tablet PC’s because inspectors, though in the last year may have been switching to Asus Eee EP121 tablets, because inspectors have suggested that they don’t need a keyboard.
Inspectors can more easily fill out forms with drop-down menus, and can use the touch-screen keyboard to type up details. The new application, according to the DOT Chief Technology Officer Cordell Schachter, includes a GIS map that marks real time locations, which allows inspectors to see all of their locations and routes for the day. This new process has cut the inspection process down from three days to just one, and DOT employees can immediately notify construction crews of violations by e-mail.