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Technology to aid city departments
New mapping app to save time, money
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    Statesboro information technology and public works staffs are nearing the launch a program they say will save the city time and money.
    The departments are working to develop a mobile geographic mapping application that will allow city workers — and, potentially, residents — to mark and view points of interest in the city, on a virtual map, where work needs to be done.
    At launch, officials expect the geographic information system app, which can be accessed on computers and mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones, to aid public works employees in efficiently locating and removing yard waste as soon as it is left curbside.
    The city hopes to decrease service response time to residents while also cutting fuel costs, by reducing the number of trips and maximizing efficiency for routing service calls.
    “We think that we are going to be able to save a lot of time and money with this software,” said Bryant Tatum, the city’s director of information technology. “What it will be able to do is, as we go out and spot solid waste (limbs and yard debris) collection points throughout the city, we can mark it and our crew will no longer have to search the city. They can go directly to these points.”
    In addition to patrolling scheduled routes, employees will have the ability to respond to trash piles as they’re called in or spotted. And they will know exactly where to locate the reported sites, Tatum said.
    The changes should allow the department, which currently runs two waste pickup trucks during the week, to save on time and fuel when collecting trash, said Justin Daniel, the city’s GIS coordinator.
    “It is going to be a proactive rather than reactive approach,” he said. “It is a simple application that is downloaded on a smartphone or tablet and will allow workers to easily mark points for collection.”
    Though the technology will first be used to mark trash piles, it eventually might reach farther, Daniel said.
    “(The app) can be expanded to other entities,” he said. “If trash collection workers see potholes that need to be fixed, various road issues, or a blown street lamp, they can mark it and have the information sent to the proper department to fix the issue.”
    “Also, if we had some sort of natural disaster — like a tornado that caused a lot of damage and debris — we could create an application fairly quickly that would allow anybody, whether the public or city employees, to be data collectors for the city by identifying trouble spots for emergency responders.”
    Currently, the information technology department is preparing the first iteration of the app for launch, but will have to train public works crews to operate the system before implementing it.
    Daniel said he would “love to see (the app) up and running before the end of the summer.”
    The software being used to create the mobile system, Freeance Mobile, was purchased by the Statesboro Public Works Department last month.
    Jeff Harrison may be reached at (912) 489-9454.

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