DLZ Blog

Traffic Data Collection: Keys to a Successful Roadway Project

Accurate data collection can greatly impact the success of a roadway project. For three decades, DLZ has contributed to the vast array of traffic data utilized by public agencies from the local to federal level in the planning and analysis of our transportation networks. While DLZ has stayed at the forefront by incorporating cutting edge technologies for collecting accurate vehicular, bicycle, and pedestrian data safely and efficiently, we are constantly exploring new opportunities to provide our clients with more accurate and reliable data.

Historically, pneumatic road tubes have been utilized for 24-hour or longer roadway segment counts to collect volume and classification data.  We’ve used count boards and field staff to manually collect classified turning movements at intersections and pedestrian and bicycle data.  These methods are still used and are often the best alternative for a given situation.  However, newer technologies have become available that improve accuracy and reliability of data collection while minimizing staff exposure to live traffic conditions during installation and removal of equipment.  Magnetic lane counters like MHCorbin’s NC350 units collect length based classification in each lane of a roadway and can be secured in each lane quicker than road tube setups needed to collect comparable directional, classification data. NC350’s can also be a more reliable option in situations where tubes may become unsecured over the course of a count period.  Video collection systems such as Miovision’s Scout Units can be used to collect turning movement counts, bike and pedestrian data at intersections and roadway segment counts as well.  Video units are installed on the side of the road eliminating the need for technicians to enter or cross travel lanes as is needed for installing tubes or magnetic lane counters.

Efficiency Matters
DLZ collects traffic data at 3,000 to 5,000 locations each year and it has become increasingly important to streamline the firm’s processes for scheduling field crews, documenting location and device information in the field and tracking progress in the office.  To this end, DLZ has incorporated ESRI’s family of ArcGIS desktop, web and mobile applications into our traffic data collection workflow.  Traffic Engineers in the office develop schedules for field crews marking locations to be collected in ArcGIS and synced with ArcGIS Online.  DLZ field staff utilize ESRI’s Collector app on their iPads to see their scheduled locations and can use the Navigator app to find efficient travel times between locations.  Field notes that are needed to identify the counter used and its placement are entered in Collector along with geocoded pictures of the installation.  This information is synched with ArcGIS Online and used in preparing data reports without the need to transcribe handwritten paper notes in the office.  Incorporating ArcGIS into a firm’s data collection processes greatly improves efficiency and reduces errors that might require recounting a location.

Safety First
Safely collecting traffic data begins with the employees. DLZ’s field staff, many of whom have been with the company for 10 or more years, focus on safely installing and removing equipment within or on the side of roadways and are properly trained to do so. Having a fleet of conspicuous work trucks with flashing lights, advance warning signs and cones for use as needed are all important safety measures to consider. All DLZ field staff wear reflective clothing and are certified in setting up and conducting flagging operations. However, every effort is made to minimize the time spent at each location. Closing a traffic lane is rarely needed.

Transportation agencies depend on current, reliable traffic data in order to make important maintenance and capital improvement decisions for their roadways.  Traffic data is also a key aspect of funding requests for federal and state transportation maintenance and improvement programs.  Ultimately, the quality of the transportation system serving our communities depends on accurate traffic data collected safely and efficiently.

Engaging New Hires

Business owners, supervisors, and managers all hope for and benefit from low turnover rates. Finding suitable and qualified replacements is not always easy. Once a new employee has been hired it can take months to be fully functional in their new role. This phase is the perfect time to not only assimilate new hires but to build a strong foundation for engaged employees through onboarding.

Onboarding is the process of orienting, assimilating, and engaging new employees. If done properly, onboarding has many benefits. Check out the infographic below for examples:

 

There is no one way to approach onboarding as organizations tend to create their own programs, however some methods that are commonly employed include:

 

Onboarding is the first opportunity to make a new employee feel like an important part of an organization. Providing opportunities for the new hire to make connections with those who have shared skills, roles, interests, and hobbies is key. Socialization leads to higher job satisfaction, better job performance, and organizational commitment. And let’s not forget that happy employees are more productive and less likely to jump ship.

We Say Thank You

With Veterans Day approaching, there is no better time to thank our nation’s 22 million veterans for their service. They are our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, neighbors and coworkers. Veterans are woven into the fabric of our nation—and our organization.

Anyone who has heard our CEO, Vikram Rajadhyaksha, P.E., share the history of DLZ, knows well the vital role the military, specifically, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, played in the growth of our business. The dam safety studies awarded to DLZ in its early years provided much of the revenue that allowed the organization to grow into the multi-disciplinary, award-winning company we know today. Indeed, much of what DLZ has become is attributed to the early work provided by the Army Corps.

In addition to being a key client, the U.S. Military has provided DLZ with many outstanding employees over the course of the company’s history. Members of the U.S. Armed Forces leave service with invaluable skill sets that make them uniquely qualified for work in our business. Veterans share high levels of personal discipline, teamwork, leadership, and a strong work ethic that easily translates into success in the civilian world. While mandates like the Veterans’ Assistance Act requires federal contractors to take affirmative steps to employ veterans, DLZ understands the value in hiring highly trained veterans and reservists. DLZ employs veterans in numerous specialties, from engineers to admins, throughout the company.

As you look for ways to show your support for veterans this holiday, you may want to consider attending a Veterans Day event, donating to a support organization or simply spending time with a service member. Many DLZ employees are active throughout the year and engage the military and veterans’ communities in a variety of meaningful ways. Regardless of how you choose to convey your appreciation, please join us in thanking our service members, veterans and coworkers for their service and continuing support of the United States of America and this organization.

No One Should Ever Have To Imagine a Day Without Water

 

DLZ joins community leaders, businesses, and advocacy organizations participating in Imagine a Day Without Water, in an effort to educate the public about the water infrastructure crisis currently facing the United States. Organized by the Value of Water Coalition, hundreds of organizations across the country will partake in events today aimed at raising awareness about the crucial need for investment to ensure that no community in America is left without water and the infrastructure that brings it to and from homes and businesses.

In 2017, America’s Infrastructure grade is a D+.  The cost of upgrading water infrastructure is entirely on the shoulder of local communities, regardless of their ability or willingness to fund improvements.  As a result, we see that many communities are only reacting to the problem rather than proactively planning investment, leaving their residents to face the consequences of substandard water infrastructure. Everyone witnessed the recent tragedy in Flint, Michigan where thousands of residents were affected by tainted water. Flint is one example, but they are not the only community making national news about inadequacy of a local water system. Millions of people live in regions where infrastructure has been neglected and are left to deal with the consequences.

DLZ is working side by side with public entities and the communities to promote appropriate level of investments to our aging water infrastructure and find cost effective solutions that will sustain dependable and safe drinking water systems for future generations. Furthermore, many people in other countries do not have safe drinking water systems at all. DLZ supports efforts of Engineers Without Border, an organization that empowers communities to meet their basic human needs and equips leaders to solve the world’s most pressing challenges through engineering projects. Many of our employees participate in that work and we are immensely proud of them. Our employees ongoing efforts with Engineers Without Borders include building sanitary systems in El Salvador, improving drainage issues, and planning to provide a water system to a school in Guatemala.

We are also proud to:

  • Support water education programs for communities we live and work in
  • Assist communities with improving their water quality by designing treatment and collection systems that utilize new technology and design concepts
  • Champion protection of ecosystems for future generations

There is no doubt about it – a day without water is a crisis. That is why we are joining with hundreds of groups across the country for Imagine a Day Without Water. No community can thrive without water and every person deserves a safe, reliable, accessible water system. Let’s demand better, and make sure no American ever has to imagine a day without water again.

Click here to find out how you can help raise awareness about the crucial need to invest in our water infrastructure.

How Fire Station Design Can Help Improve Health

South Bend, Indiana Fire Station Ventilated Gear Lockers

DLZ has had the opportunity to assist fire departments throughout the Midwest with fire station renovation and new construction design. Fire stations are more than the firefighters’ place of work, the facilities are the firefighters’ home away from home. There are many aspects to firehouse design, however the topic of promoting firefighter health is at the forefront of today’s discussions.

DLZ ’s architects and engineers incorporate a variety of design components to reduce potential health risks within the station. Firehouse configurations and spatial adjacencies not only meet functional operational needs but also establish “hot zones” which are separated from firefighter living zones. Decontamination areas, gear washing and drying zones and gear storage areas are located immediately off the apparatus floor area to contain potential exposure to the living spaces.

Ventilation systems are selected with careful attention to fresh air and exhaust air levels. The following measures are put in place to reduce the potential air-borne contaminants: direct capture ventilation systems are utilized for the vehicle exhaust systems within the apparatus bays; properly ventilated gear lockers and storage areas; and positive building pressure within the living areas is established to reduce air infiltration from the “hot zones.”

One of the more recent amenities within firehouses are firefighter saunas. Studies have shown sweating is very effective in removing toxins from the body. As a result, the use of saunas has become more common within today’s firehouses. When utilized with low cardio activities, toxins, including heavy metals and lead, which may enter the blood stream during fire calls, are flushed and removed.

Portage, Indiana Fire Station No. 3 Apparatus Bay

DLZ appreciates firefighters and the call to serve our communities. As a reminder, Fire Prevention Week is October 8-14, 2017. This year’s Fire Prevention Week theme, “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!” works to better educate the public about the critical importance of developing a home escape plan and practicing it.

In support of Fire Prevention Week, DLZ encourages all households to develop a plan together and practice it. A home escape plan includes working smoke alarms on every level of the home, in every bedroom, and near all sleeping areas. It also includes two ways out of every room, usually a door and a window, with a clear path to an outside meeting place (like a tree, light pole, or mailbox) that’s a safe distance from the home.