Magazine Article | January 31, 2012

Inspection Automation Saves 80 Hours Per Month

By Field Technologies magazine

The City of Boulder, CO, serves approximately 104,000 residents. In 1989, the city created the Storm Water Quality Program to monitor the impact of urban runoff on Boulder Creek. Water quality is examined to identify how it is changing over time and to identify and mitigate pollutant sources.

Boulder had been using paper forms and logbooks for these inspections and had a problem with its inspectors not following the same processes. This led to inaccurate data, discrepancies between inspections, and wasted time trying to decipher inspectors' data. The paperbased system Boulder used was costly, time-intensive, and inefficient. It required inspectors to return to the office and spend an average of 2 hours per day manually reentering data collected in the field into the database.

Boulder needed a solution that would standardize both procedures and data collection requirements and improve documentation and data uniformity. Also, inspectors had to carry multiple devices such as a GPS receiver, a digital camera, a clipboard, and a cellular telephone. The ideal solution would eliminate paper and allow the inspectors to perform their duties with one mobile device.

After additional research, the City of Boulder chose Storm Water Inspector, a solution created by Mobile Epiphany. The solution placed all inspections into a single application, which is broken down by the type of best management practices that the inspectors could look for and enforce on a daily basis. Productivity was optimized with the rich use of media; reference images are carried into the field on the mobile device, allowing for rookie inspectors to work with minimal supervision and use Touch Inspect as a training tool to guide them. This was coupled with the Touch Inspect Report Manager to generate reports and notices of violation.

Now, all of the data collected by inspectors in the field is automatically transmitted to the database. This saves more than 80 work hours per month in rekeying data. Inspectors stay in the field longer and conduct more inspections in the same number of work hours — increasing overall efficiency.