A futuristic project that leverages Microsoft holographic technology to boost productivity and increase safety has already borne fruit: industry recognition for the Toms River Municipal Authority (TRMUA).
The Association of Environmental Authorities (AEA) 2017 Wave Awards Committee has chosen to honor the TRMUA with a “Forward Thinking Wave Award” for its Augmented Reality/Microsoft HoloLens project. The Wave Award program recognizes excellence in the public water/wastewater/solid waste/recycling sector in New Jersey. The TRMUA is one in a distinguished group of recipients being honored this year.
The TRMUA partnered with Meemim Corp., a developer of knowledge-management software and mixed-reality applications, to create a next-generation planning and infrastructure-locating tool for municipalities, public utilities, and contractor services. Championed by Stephen C. Acropolis, the TRMUA executive director, and led by Len Bundra, the TRMUA IT/Geographic Information Systems (GIS) director, the product is currently undergoing final testing before its planned release to users.
The first of its kind in the world, the Meemim vGIS (Visual Geographic Information Systems) application uses a Microsoft HoloLens to deliver real-time in-field holographic visualizations of underground pipes, valves, cables, and other utility objects; it also includes related information and support materials. The system combines object holograms with object-specific data to provide a guide for field technicians to understand the infrastructure they need to service while on-site. Meemim vGIS builds on the Meemim information delivery platform to provide visual aids, such as manuals and safety instructions, in a hands-free format.
The TRMUA had already built a robust GIS using ESRI’s ArcGIS online services. “With our utility infrastructure and data now online, we had some success with real-time collaboration with our field crews using laptops,” says Bundra. “Now, field workers can now literally ‘see’ utility lines beneath their feet, when viewed through the Microsoft HoloLens. This takes GIS to a whole new dimension of dynamic mapping and data retrieval.”
“This was an idea worth pursuing,” adds Acropolis. “The possibility of applying emerging mixed-reality technology in our industry was the logical next step.”
In-field trials show that the system speeds up planning, shortens in-field work time, reduces errors, and improves safety.
“We are building something seen only in sci-fi movies,” says Alec Pestov, CEO of Meemim. “Yet, the system is not just an array of special effects, but an effective productivity tool. This award from the AEA is a strong validation of our collaborative approach to taking utilities management to the next level.”
Those interested in engaging and/or learning more can contact Meemim.
About the Toms River Municipal Utilities Authority (TRMUA)
The TRMUA was established in 1949 with a mandate to provide wastewater collection services to its ratepayers in a reliable, environmentally responsible, and cost-effective manner. The TRMUA maintains 435 miles of underground utility lines and 18 pump stations and serves 47,000 ratepayers, covering an area of 55 square miles in Toms River, NJ (population 92,000).
Meemim Corp. (Toronto, ON) is a knowledge-management platform vendor with expertise in data presentation and visualization. Current applications, in addition to vGIS, include client customer service portals and the Meemim collaboration productivity suite for project management and small-team collaboration.