State turns to the cloud to manage transportation projects
The Delaware Department of Transportation will track $3 billion in spending over the next five years with a cloud-based capital program management solution.
The Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) last week announced it would modernize the planning, funding and execution of its Capital Transportation Program by relying on cloud-based software to prioritize, budget and track projects.
DelDOT said it would partner with enterprise software-as-a-service company Aurigo to manage its projected $3 billion in capital spending over the next five years as the state looks to upgrade the infrastructure it manages across the state’s 14,000 miles of roadway, over 1,750 bridges, and more than 300,000 signs, structures and other assets, as well as commuter rail, bus and paratransit.
The agency will use Aurigo’s Masterworks project management software to create capital projects, estimate their costs and prioritize them, as well as keep track of funding sources and automate the reimbursement process for federal funds. The company already works with several states on modernizing capital project management, including Iowa, Massachusetts and Utah.
In a joint statement, Todd Reavis, DelDOT’s director of technology and innovation, and Lanie Clymer, DelDOT’s director of finance, said the system “will allow us to implement change and scale for the future more efficiently." DelDOT representatives were not available for further comment.
With billions of dollars to manage, states need to modernize their capital program management to keep up. They must track federal dollars, which have restrictions on how they can be spent and rules about how they must be reimbursed. In the past, agencies may have relied on paper plans and spreadsheets, but the swelling of their coffers from the bipartisan infrastructure law and the growing scale of their needs means those old processes are no longer adequate.
“The programs are getting more complex, projects are getting larger, the funding is getting bigger,” said Balaji Sreenivasan, Aurigo’s CEO and founder. “There are more stakeholders, and more of them are working hybrid today than ever before. So collaborating between the different stakeholders is becoming extremely difficult.”
In addition to enabling remote workers to access data they need and automating much of the capital program management process, Aurigo produces what Sreenivasan called “weighted scoring” to allow planners to properly prioritize which projects should get completed first. That score takes into account a project’s cost, its impact on the economy and the environment and the needs of the area where it would be built, among other factors.
In producing a weighted score for each project, Aurigo’s software creates a paper trail that can be audited to show how planners arrived at the decision to complete a certain project at a certain time. That score also reduces the likelihood of elected officials or planners having pet projects jump to the front of the line when it comes to executing them.
When it comes to prioritizing infrastructure improvements, what’s important is not necessarily “the loudest voice in the room,” Sreenivasan said. “It's also about understanding what the impact is of that program to the communities at large.”
Community outreach and engagement also is crucial for project management, so Aurigo built a feature into its products earlier this year to measure public sentiment. Beyond public meetings, which Sreenivasan said are “not very equitable” as they are during working hours and cater to an English-speaking audience, Aurigo is looking to digitize and analyze feedback.
With billions in federal funding available, Sreenivasan said it is imperative that state agencies work closely together, which can be difficult as they use different tools and methods to track their progress on projects.
While there can be a “huge gap” between construction companies, planners and officials responsible for financing due to these different systems, Sreenivasan said technology will be “right at the center” of ensuring more transparency for residents on how their money is being spent.