iPads Help City of Minneapolis Cut Cost of Public Works Project in Half

Updated: 10/25/2012 12:25 AM KSTP.com By: Naomi Pescovitz

The City of Minneapolis saved a quarter million dollars this summer with a piece of technology, many of us have at home. iPads.

A team of college interns and public works staff used an iPad app to inventory every pedestrian curb ramp in the city.

"Instead of having to have to drive out to that intersection, engineers can actually just pull up that intersection now and take a look at it and say, you know what, yeah, it needs to be fixed," said Barbara McCloud, Engineering Technician with the City of Minneapolis.

The federal Americans with Disabilities Act requires cities to come up with a plan for how to make infrastructure better. To do that, cities needs to find any areas that don't measure up. This project documented all 15 thousand pedestrian curb ramps in the city.

"You have to collect, what's the texture, are there traffic signals in the location, the slope of the ramp, the slope leading into the ramp," said Steve Kotke, Minneapolis Director of Public Works.

The project was estimated to cost a half a million dollars and take 8 months spread over several summers. By using iPads and and interns, the cost was cut in half and the project took 3 and a half months this summer.

"Just like a lot of technologies, once you start learning it and learning the capabilities of it, we start thinking of more and more ideas of how to use it," Kotke said.

The city also plans to use the technology during major snow events and emergencies.

"Currently we have people out there monitoring where our snow plows are at and so forth. But now we will be able to collect that information, using an iPad and get it sent in immediately to managers, supervisors, so we can better utilize the resources that we have out there," Kotke said.