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FHWA launches Geosynthetic Installation Notes Tracker mobile application

Update | April 1, 2023 | By: Kevin Kerfoot

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Center for Local Aid Support, in a collaborative effort with the Geosynthetic Materials Association (GMA), has launched the Geosynthetics Installation Notes Tracker mobile application. The mobile app provides handheld, quick and easy access to information on the various types and functions of geosynthetic materials for use in road construction and maintenance projects.

The mobile app features include specification requirements and site inspection guidance for walls, slopes, pavement, erosion control and drainage. It also features quick searches, key terms, notes tracker, bookmarks, checklists, share documents and informational videos. It is available now in the Apple Store and Google Play Store and will be a welcome tool for anyone utilizing geosynthetics. It is handy for anyone out in the field on road and maintenance construction projects because it covers several geosynthetic material subjects, including erosion protection and roadway reinforcement.

“The engineers, agencies, contractors and others involved in transportation projects will greatly benefit from the ease of access to geosynthetic products and applications,” says Fred Chuck, GMA executive director. “As this is now a digital app, it also means that as a live working document, it can be revised, expanded and kept up to date as the geosynthetic applications and products expand.”

“FHWA had originally planned on developing a series of pocket guides that could be carried on-site but decided a mobile app would better serve transportation project managers and their staff by giving them quicker access to information, so the agency coordinated with the Geosynthetic Materials Association on development of the geosynthetic mobile application and provided resources and staff to help develop, test and implement it,” an FHWA spokesperson says. “The FHWA is always working to accelerate the use of innovations that make project delivery more efficient, and this mobile app is a good example of that.”

“The original work was to be a pocket guide to geosynthetics (before the advent of apps) commissioned by the FHWA Western Lands group around 2010,” Chuck continues. “GMA was hired to produce the documents, which included photos and descriptions for six different pocket guides encompassing all the various applications and product categories that are utilized by FHWA projects. The completed guides were never published for use by the FHWA; then in early 2021, the guides resurfaced and were put in the hands of the transportation program manager, Office of Innovative Program Delivery, Center for Local Aid Support (CLAS) for the FHWA, and they reached out to GMA for access to the original photos. During the ensuing conversations, it was determined that the original photos were not of the quality required for today’s digital production and so the GMA members were solicited for more appropriate photos. 

“This was a great collaborative effort on the part of the GMA members to provide the digitally acceptable photos to the FHWA,” Chuck adds. “This is a fabulous starting point for moving the geosynthetic knowledge into the digital world, but only a starting point that should continue to be expanded and become more beneficial. Additionally, this should help to expand the general acceptance of geosynthetic use by making it easier (on your phone) to gain the knowledge needed to use geosynthetics.”

Trinette Ballard, FHWA Local Aid Support Program Manager—Office of Innovation and Workforce Solutions, was on the exhibit floor at the recent Geosynthetics Conference in Kansas City, Mo., to demonstrate the many functions of the FHWA’s Geosynthetics Installation Notes Tracker mobile application and how it can assist with road construction and maintenance projects. “The enthusiasm around the app was exciting,” Ballard said. “I heard from many of the attendees that this is something they felt was needed in the industry. We are working with several entities we met during the conference to provide even more information in the future using the mobile application. What we have available right now in the Apple Store and Google Play Store is just the beginning.”

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