State, local and municipal governments play many roles and deliver many disparate services for their citizens. However, one of the most overlooked – albeit essential – services that they deliver is the provision of utilities.
One of the tools that utility companies and departments are increasingly relying on are today’s modern digital design solutions, including CAD and BIM solutions. As we’ve discussed in previous articles on the GovDesignHub, these technologies are essential for a number of tasks with utility departments – from planning and designing key infrastructure, to plotting out and better designing energy distribution networks.
One city that is leading the way in its use of digital design for public utilities is the City of Seattle. And the individual responsible for leading the charge into embracing CAD and BIM is Josh Jones, the CAD Technology Coordinator for the city’s public utilities.
We recently had an opportunity to sit down with Josh to learn more about how Seattle is using CAD and BIM, the benefits that its delivering to the city and its constituents, and where you can find the best cup of joe in a city known for its coffee (spoiler alert: it’s NOT Starbucks).
Here is what Josh had to say:
GovDesignHub: Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself? How did you get involved in public service? What path did you follow to wind up as the CAD Technology Coordinator for the City of Seattle’s public utilities?
Josh Jones: I started out as an intern drafter for Seattle Public Utilities in 2000 and fell in love with the work. During my years working here, in addition to drafting, I developed a project tracking system for the Survey and Technical Resources units that tracked program schedule, budget, status and performance metrics.
I also started a one-on-one learning program for Seattle Public Utilities, re-wrote the CAD standards, chaired the Inter-Departmental CAD Committee, and have been involved in initiatives to improve workflows and data-sharing at the City of Seattle – including developing CAD to GIS and GIS to CAD processes.
GovDesignHub: What are your roles and responsibilities in your current position?
Josh Jones: My current role includes delivering drawings and documentation and data for high-profile Capital Improvement Projects, leading the Inter-Departmental CAD Committee, CAD training for engineers, maintaining CAD standards, and documenting BIM processes.
GovDesignHub: How is the City of Seattle using CAD and BIM technologies in planning and design? What different use cases has the city found for the technology? What types of projects is this technology being used on?
Josh Jones: The City has started scanning sites and facilities with Leica scanners and processing the data with Leica Cyclone and CloudWorx and Autodesk ReCap Pro.
Autodesk AutoCAD Civil 3D and AutoCAD Plant 3D are the core CAD platforms the City of Seattle uses to plan and design most projects and we have started to use BIM 360 Docs for issue and markup tracking. In addition to traditional base maps for roadway/utility projects, we work on facilities like reservoirs, pump stations and storage tanks.
GovDesignHub: What benefit does CAD and BIM modeling deliver to the city? What was it like before implementing these solutions? How is it better now?
Josh Jones: We are in the beginning stages of BIM implementation and still have a lot to learn. One thing we try to do is explore all the possibilities with the software we currently have, while, at the same time, look at adopting new technologies.
Before we adopted BIM 360 Docs, issues were tracked in Excel and markups were kept in various PDF files or hard copies. Using the tools within BIM 360 Docs has allowed us to keep everything for the project in a centralized location.
The next area we want to improve is AutoCAD XREF drawing collaboration on BIM 360 Docs so we can work with our external partners on drawings and track versions in a centralized location. BIM 360 Docs looks promising for drawing collaboration and we look forward to what’s next with that platform.
We are also looking at improving our asset-onboarding processes to build project asset lists and make sure data gets into our GIS and Maximo systems in a cost-effective and timely manner.
GovDesignHub: What benefits do citizens receive from the city utilizing this technology?
Josh Jones: Seattle Public Utilities’ strategic role in sustaining/improving the quality of life for our customers is to solve problems at the source. We want to maximize the use of the technology we have so we can get the most out of it and find ways to permanently solve recurring problems.
GovDesignHub: What is your favorite place to get a cup of coffee in Seattle, and what is your go-to order there?
Josh Jones: If you are in Seattle proper, you can’t go wrong with Espresso Vivace. I usually order doppio espresso because I like strong-tasting coffee.