1998 Finalist
City of Aurora, Colorado
Innovations in American Government Awards
Innovations in American Government Awards

The City of Aurora, Colorado, has partnered with Datria Systems (originally a part of Lockheed-Martin) to develop a product called "VoCarta.” VoCarta integrates four current technologies: voice recognition, Global Positioning System (GPS) location, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping, and mobile radios.

The system, which is run on a laptop computer, allows a user to collect data for a GIS by simply driving and speaking into a headset microphone. Speech recognition software translates spoken observations into database entries while the GPS instantly captures locations of the objects into a laptop computer. The database entries and their locations create a GIS mapping layer. Radio communications provide GPS location corrections from a base station to the field units. At the end of the "data collection tour”, the data is downloaded from the laptop to a GIS workstation and the collection tour is displayed through the GIS. A quality assurance session at the workstation concludes the process and the resultant data theme is then available for mapping and additional analysis.

Previous methods required digitizing paper source documents or actual land surveying techniques to locate objects for mapping. Additional work was required to describe those objects through keyboard entry into a database. Further work required quality assurance routines to verify data entry, both for the fieldwork and the keyboard database entry. These steps are now automated and hands-free. Data collection speed and accuracy are dramatically increased. Projects thought to be prohibitively expensive or time-consuming can now be completed due to the low cost of collecting the needed data; the VoCarta product provides a tool to collect accurate information for a GIS as fast as the user can speak thus reducing the cost of data up to 75 percent.

The City of Aurora’s Public Works Department has used the VoCarta product to complete an inventory of the entire street network for the first time. The inventory includes categorization of all defects, severity of the defect, and location of all street segments. This data gives Aurora the ability to develop strategic plans for repair and maintenance of street assets based on this information. The VoCarta system has also increased the productivity of code enforcement inspectors in the Neighborhood Support Division. Each inspector can potentially realize a one to two hour time-savings each day. As inspectors describe violations into the VoCarta system, the results are immediately and automatically entered into a database. Violation notices are then printed in the car, on site, at time of observation. Inspectors no longer need to travel from the field to the office to process and print violation notices.