Artistic Background

Vanderburgh County Highway Department Automates AVL Data Collection

City of Evansville and Vanderburgh County City of Evansville and Vanderburgh County
Greg Grabner, GIS Supervisor


The Vanderburgh County Highway Department encompasses the Highway, Local Roads, and Street and Cumulative Bridge departments within the Vanderburgh County Government. About 55 employees within these departments handle public works and general maintenance for 560 lane miles of Vanderburgh County roads, including general road repairs and resurfacing, right-of-way mowing, roadway ditch maintenance, tree maintenance and emergency response to weather conditions such as storm damage and snow removal. The Vanderburgh County Highway Department operates under the authority of the Vanderburgh County Commission and is funded by the Vanderburgh County Council.

The Challenge

During an unusually harsh winter, Vanderburgh County was pummeled with 24 inches of snowfall in one night. Residents of the county became concerned over the amount of time it took for the streets to be plowed, so the geographic information systems (GIS) department began placing automatic vehicle location (AVL) units in the plows. The system would allow residents to see where plows had already been and where they were headed for future snows. Greg Grabner of Mark Rolley Consulting, Inc., serves as the GIS Supervisor for Vanderburgh County, handling all GIS-related projects, as well as networking and help desk issues.

"When we first instituted the AVL tracking system, I spent 24 hours straight monitoring it following the first snowfall. I had to be available at all times to collect data as it came in," remarked Grabner. "Unfortunately, the constant demands of monitoring the AVL system was interfering with my other duties."

Working with his lead developer, Grabner had created two VBA scripts - one would collect locations for individual trucks at a given time while the other performed a data dump for all points. The scripts had to be run manually, necessitating Grabner's attention for the entire process.

The Solution

"It didn't make any sense for me to lose sleep and waste time running these scripts manually, and putting someone else in charge wasn't a cost-effective solution," said Grabner. "We brainstormed on a solution, and, during our search, we found one."

AutoMate, Network Automation's business process automation (BPA) software platform, was a cost-effective automated alternative to other BPA software on the market and provided greater functionality and reliability for Grabner. With AutoMate, Grabner could let these scripts run on their own with confidence that there would be no gaps in the data.

Grabner also mentioned, "Furthermore, we wanted to keep the GIS software updated so we could keep that visual component in our tracking system. We created two more scripts that update the GIS as data comes in and manage them with AutoMate."

The Benefits

"Now, we have a cost-effective and reliable way to automate our AVL data tracking," said Grabner. "Not only are we saving financially, but my time has been freed up to allocate towards other projects."

The residents of Vanderburgh County are now able to track where and when plows will be coming through their streets, providing them with peace of mind as well as a convenient way to check on driving conditions. The Vanderburgh County Highway Department can now keep track of their vehicles efficiently in the case of an emergency.