On April 16, 2012, Woolpert, a national design, geospatial and infrastructure management consulting firm, announced it has been awarded two contracts totaling approximately $2 million by the City of Indianapolis Department of Public Works (DPW) to survey pavements and develop a street sign inventory using mobile mapping technology. The project requires collection of data across 3,200 miles of city streets, one of the single largest mobile light detection and ranging (LiDAR) collection efforts to date.

Woolpert will use its Optech LYNX M1 Mobile LiDAR system to collect the data and then use that data to develop a street sign database for compliance with Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) requirements for sign inventories. This manual provides the U.S. standard for signs, signals and pavement markings.

“The benefit of using a high-accuracy mobile LiDAR system with survey-grade capabilities on such projects is the rich dataset that it captures from which assets can be extracted, in this case signage. Data collected can used for a variety of applications such as line of sight or viewshed analysis, vegetation encroachment studies, urban modeling and ADA compliance to name a few, and it will also lay the groundwork for vehicle automation,” said Eric Andelin, Woolpert project director. “The city will not only be able to use the data for its sign database, it will also be able to extract or call on the Woolpert team to extract additional features in the future without remobilizing the team or placing additional field crews in harm’s way, which provides the true value in this collection effort.”

Woolpert’s applied research and development (ARAD) group will use enhanced automation tools to assist in the rapid extraction of signs and other features using both imagery and LiDAR. This group has also developed web-based QA/QC tools to disseminate these tasks across the team while maintaining the integrity and security of the LiDAR and image datasets.

“As one of only a few geospatial firms with a true research and development arm, Woolpert brings added value to the project by creating automated processes unavailable through commercial off-the-shelf software,” said Jeff Lovin, Woolpert senior vice president and director of geospatial services.

Woolpert will team with VS Engineering and DB Engineering on the sign inventory and Dynatest on the pavement analysis. Upon completion of the project, data will be integrated with the city’s existing computerized maintenance management system, Hansen IMS.

Mobile mapping sessions at SPAR International 2012 in Houston pointed to the project as signaling a major shift in how government agencies are approaching asset data collection and management. “This is a very innovative project and is definitely one to watch,” said Ray Mandli, president of Mandli Communications and chair of the Geospatial Transportation Mapping Association (GTMA).