Rhode Island DOT papers go digital

Rhode Island Department of Transportation

Rhode Island Department of Transportation officials are creating an electronic document management system to better preserve their paper documents and gain easier and quicker access to information.

So far, about 100 years worth of archival material, some of which will be made available for public access, has been automated, but the department is now expanding the electronic document management system to include correspondence and other documents.

The state DOT's offices and divisions developed different back office management systems, so correspondence and other documents are scattered throughout the department, said Marina Havan, an executive consultant with PlanGraphics Inc., based in Frankfort, Ky., which has been working with Rhode Island transportation officials for more than two years on the new system.

She said the company is working with several top officials to slowly modernize some divisions. She said design of the system might take another six months depending on procurement of hardware and software.

PlanGraphics is also enlisting the help of Plexus Corp., a professional services Rhode Island-based firm with a long working relationship with the state DOT, because it has institutional knowledge on how the business processes work there.

Most state transportation departments are still paper intensive, but a few, such as Arizona and Texas are more advanced, said John Antenucci, PlanGraphics' president and chief executive officer, adding Rhode Island is ahead of the curve as well.

PlanGraphics also created an intranet application that lets users click on a segment of a road through a geographic information system application and view all related documents, such as utilities running through the route. That application is also being tied into the department's Transportation Management Center, which monitors, assesses and responds to roadway emergencies, so users can view real-time traffic videos and photo logs of a particular road segment where an incident may have occurred, Havan said, adding that project should be completed within the next three months.

Automation within most state transportation departments largely centers on computer-aided design and drafting, but there are also large repositories of hand-drawn documents collected by third-party drafting firms, Antenucci said.

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