Collecting a Sidewalk Trip Hazard Inventory Using Mobile GIS

Sidewalk replacement and maintenance is a routine aspect of every community’s capital improvement plan. Over time, sidewalk squares deteriorate due to a variety of reasons, and communities face the challenge of tracking all locations that may pose a safety hazard to its residents. In the summer of 2014, the Village of Glen Ellyn, IL tried a new method to locate and track these safety hazards, using mobile Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to accomplish this task.

To begin using this technology, the village needed a tablet, or some other type of mobile device, along with the downloaded mobile GIS application.  This GIS application, commonly known as Collector, was installed onto a village tablet.   Using this application, the village staff member would collect the geographic location of a damaged sidewalk square either using the GPS functionality of the device or manually identifying the location of the damaged square.  Once the location is captured, certain attributes about the damage are noted and stored with the location.   The staff member also has the option to add a picture of the damaged square, which was attached to each location along with the attribute information.   These pictures will be used by staff moving forward to determine the severity of the damage once this initial data collection is over. These pictures are critical as only a certain amount of dollars are allocated annually that can be spent fixing or replacing sidewalks.  These pictures will be used to establish which sidewalk locations get repaired during the current budget year and which ones get pushed off to future years.

Having a mobile method of locating and tracking all the damaged sidewalks squares in the field replaces the former method of going to each known or reported damage location, marking locations on a map by hand, and returning to the office to fill out a spreadsheet that contained the master list of replacement areas. The level of ease and the time saved makes this project a blueprint for the village when conducting future asset inventories.