Seattle Department of Transportation | GIS Software

dotMaps streamlined SDOT's operations, fostering enhanced urban planning and community engagement in Seattle through unified data and teamwork.

Introduction

Seattle's rapidly growing construction scene presented a complex coordination puzzle. As the lead UX designer, Sharif Matar, I was tasked with improving the Seattle Department of Transportation's (SDOT) project management methods. The outcome was dotMaps, a GIS-centric platform on Google Cloud, designed to meet Seattle's intricate urban needs.

The Challenge:The city was grappling with a two-fold problem. Firstly, the available project management tools were far from user-friendly and lacked the necessary features to handle numerous ongoing projects. Secondly, a significant chunk of data, crucial for effective coordination, was siloed. Both private entities and public utilities were relying on disparate Excel sheets, making integration and real-time collaboration a daunting task.

Our UX Process:

  1. User Research: To comprehend the depth of the problem, we initiated sessions with key stakeholders, ranging from SDOT staff to private contractors. This provided a comprehensive picture of the existing pain points.
  2. Wireframing & Prototyping: Based on our insights, initial wireframes were crafted, focusing on ease of data input, visualization, and inter-departmental collaboration. Several iterations were tested, refined, and validated with end-users.
  3. Data Integration: Recognizing the fragmented data sources, a significant challenge was creating a platform that could seamlessly integrate diverse data points from Excel and other tools. We prioritized developing functionalities for smooth data import and real-time updates.
  4. Feedback Loops: Post the initial rollout, feedback mechanisms were put in place. Regular user feedback sessions ensured that dotMaps evolved in line with on-ground requirements.

The Solution:

  1. dotMaps by SADA Introduction: In collaboration with SADA, dotMaps was integrated into SDOT's workflow. The platform offered an unparalleled user interface, multi-device compatibility, and seamless data integration capabilities.
  2. Public Engagement Enhancement: Transparency was pivotal. dotMaps was not just a backend tool; it was a bridge between the city's projects and its residents. Through real-time updates, residents could access information about ongoing and upcoming construction, road closures, and more.
  3. Collaboration in Real-time: The heart of dotMaps was its collaboration feature. Agencies, ranging from Seattle Public Utilities to Seattle City Light, could interact, plan, and execute projects in sync, ensuring minimal overlap and maximum resource optimization.

Achievements:

“A project that was going to cost $200,000 only cost $100,000, so there are more funds to expand the network or otherwise improve infrastructure. That’s good for everyone.” Heather Marx, Director of Downtown Mobility, Seattle Department of Transportation
  1. Financial & Time Optimization: With the efficient project management facilitated by dotMaps, Seattle unlocked savings surpassing $21 million. Project timelines saw substantial reductions, leading to quicker completions and reduced disruptions.
  2. Public Trust Fortification: By integrating real-time information into widely used mapping solutions, we fostered an environment of trust. The platform soon became an essential tool for residents, with over 100 unique users weekly, tapping into it for daily planning.
  3. Breaking Data Silos: One of the most significant achievements was the successful integration of siloed data. Departments and agencies that once operated in isolation now had a unified platform, ensuring coherent and consistent data management.
  4. Swift Implementation: Our partnership with SADA was pivotal. From ideation to full-fledged deployment, the journey was completed in under six months. The rapid adoption rate by SDOT and other agencies was a testament to the platform's user-centric design and functionality.
“dotMaps has proven to be an invaluable tool for Seattle residents and visitors as well as for the city itself.”Heather Marx, Director of Downtown Mobility, Seattle Department of Transportation

Conclusion

The development of dotMaps was a challenging yet rewarding experience. Through a focus on user-centric design, unifying scattered data, and promoting teamwork, we were able to make significant improvements not only to the department's operations but also to the broader framework of Seattle's urban planning and community interaction.