Effective July 15, 2022, Ross & Baruzzini’s Mobility System group, formerly MACRO, joins TYLin International, a global alliance company, to more closely align with the mobility practices of TYLin along with GPO Group and Sam Schwartz, TYLin companies.
This move aligns a broad spectrum of transportation professionals to ensure clients realize the smoothest project experiences.
“The changes clients will see from this strategic effort will be the enhanced connections, collaboration and knowledge sharing to support your needs,” says Megan Huff, Vice President, Managing Principal – Mobility Systems. “It means that as their needs evolve, we will be able to provide more efficient access to additional resources and expertise that might be needed to support their future requirements.“
There will be no changes in project teams, client-focused operations, or in the quality of the service provided. Mobility Systems will continue to work under its existing contracts and will deliver the highest quality services to clients.
Ross & Baruzzini will continue to be an important partner in future transportation projects as TYLin works closely with its communications, security, or digital teams to create systems that meet the demands of our future.
“No one said it’s easy to do construction renovation in healthcare facilities, but it is vitally important to ensure that medical facilities can deliver the best care possible.”
Senior Vice President – Managing Principal Mike Shea and Vice President – Managing Principal Mike Swanson spoke with MedCity News on construction best practices in healthcare facilities:
There’s no doubt that stakes are high during construction renovations in healthcare facilities that demand 24/7 operation. After all, downtime isn’t an option during medical facility renovations when critical building infrastructure is keeping people alive. In the digital era where medical records are electronic and major medical procedures are performed using sophisticated robotics, electrical power and telecommunication services are vital for patient care operations during healthcare construction.
Adverse outcomes associated with the loss of building infrastructure could reduce staff and patient safety and increase the risk of litigation. For instance, active construction can stir up dust and debris, compromising building sanitation and putting patients at risk. With this in mind, construction teams must be hyperaware of infection control during construction in healthcare facilities.
Regardless, medical facilities still require routine maintenance and repairs — just like any other building. The stakes are simply too high in healthcare environments to execute the associated engineering work in a traditional way. Not all firms have the specialized skill sets and foresight to anticipate needs, investigate the facilities and infrastructure, and phase work appropriately. However, experienced specialty design and engineering firms can ensure the best possible care through advanced preparation and proactive, diligent processes.
Construction best practices in healthcare facilities
Here’s what successful engineering firms must do before starting medical facility renovations to be successful in maintaining seamless operations and patient care during construction:
Conduct an on-site investigation.
Don’t rely on the building’s existing drawings and “as-built” documentation. Although this seems obvious, it’s too often bypassed for expediency to the detriment of the construction timeline and budget. To understand the scope of a healthcare renovation project, firms must do their own fieldwork and conduct interviews with facility management teams to ensure they have comprehensive, up-to-date knowledge of the building’s physical condition and its supporting utility infrastructure, equipment, and systems.
Understand the environment.
Next, firms need to examine specifically where construction will take place. For instance, let’s say a firm is replacing electrical gear in a hospital. The firm’s team will want to thoroughly analyze the project location and adjacent areas, noting any limitations in equipment’s physical size, room dimensions, and system capacity. If any areas or operations would be adversely affected if power was lost during construction, teams should develop contingency plans.
Then, they’ll verify the safe transfer of power sources from normal power to emergency generators and back to normal power — all without disrupting sensitive equipment, automation and control systems, and operations. Firms need to consider what the true impact of an outage might be. Can users go without a system for a certain amount of time? If so, how long? This step requires a lot of team collaboration between contractors, owners, and staff members.
Firms can employ software like Autodesk Revit to create 3D models and lidar technology to map out spaces such as mechanical and electrical rooms. Armed with these resources, teams can better understand the limitations within the space and identify opportunities where infrastructure can be installed and routed to minimize disruption to other services.
Develop phasing schemes.
Facilities don’t usually have adequate “swing space” available to maintain clinical operations during healthcare renovations. Instead, they must create the swing space through the use of temporary modular facilities or phased renovations.
Some projects can come with challenges such as floor space not being readily available to install new equipment, or the facility is not able to tolerate a power outage during construction. To solve the first challenge, an exterior area well can be creatively enclosed and repurposed to house a portion of the new electrical equipment, providing an opportunity for phased feeder cutovers and creating available space within a basement region. Then, a robust temporary generator arrangement can be provided in conjunction with separate distinct construction sequences to phase the work in a manner that can minimize downtime and construction costs and maximize the existing floor space.
Experienced healthcare designers must lead stakeholders through the process of developing phasing plans for the duration of the project. The phasing documents will evolve and become more complete as the project design develops and more information is obtained relative to the operation and critical utilities infrastructure throughout the site. The design team should solicit input from maintenance and operations staff at each milestone design phase so that the ramifications of construction and stakeholder obligations are fully understood and advance planning can be coordinated.
Firms must develop initial phasing concepts during the concept stage and refine them during the final design to account for the zoning of existing infrastructure; the impact on clinical operations, including infection control during construction; and the desired end state. Ideally, firms should complete the project in as few phases as possible while minimizing disruptions to operations and keeping overall project costs down.
No one said it’s easy to do construction renovation in healthcare facilities, but it is vitally important to ensure that medical facilities can deliver the best care possible. Design and engineering firms can follow these steps to ensure that repairs, maintenance, and renovations are completed on time, with safety in mind, and with as little disruption to operations as possible. The result will be a game plan that minimizes services disruptions and maintains operations throughout construction, reducing risks to the healthcare organization.
We can help guide your team during your next Healthcare MEP project. Contact us to discuss how our solutions can help keep operations running smoothly during a renovation.
Connect with Senior Vice President – Managing Principal Mike Shea and Business Development Director Jay Shastri from our Government Services team at SAME’s Joint Engineer Training Conference & Expo 2022 in Aurora, CO on May 10-12. Visit our team at Booth #811 for three days of education, training, and networking.
The SAME JETC 2022 in Colorado promises to be a must-attend reunion for members of the military engineering community and the A/E/C industry. After two years of virtual events, SAME JETC is ready to bring together professionals from across the public and private sectors to learn and network in a collaborative setting.
Connect with Our Experts on Mission Critical Solutions
We understand local and federal agencies must be agile. Our full suite of advanced solutions create safe, sustainable, and resilient facilities:
• Architecture and Interior Design • Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing & Fire Protection Engineering (MEP/FP) • Technology Consulting • IT & Communications • Physical Security • Commissioning • Systems Integration • Energy Consulting
If you’re attending, contact us here to set up your one-on-one during this event so we can talk about your next project.
Join Megan Huff, Mobility Systems Vice President – Managing Principal, as she joins the “Is Your Cyber Secure?” session during the APTA Mobility Conference on Tuesday, May 3 at 2 PM ET to discuss how transit agencies and businesses can defend against digital threats by creating a dynamic cybersecurity program.
What to Expect at This Year’s APTA Mobility Conference
The Mobility Conference continues to address the critical priorities and challenges facing bus and paratransit systems and explores the changing environment in which systems operate in today’s mobility landscape. Participate in specialty workshops, APTA’s Bus Display, the Products and Services Showcase and technical tours.
If you’re attending APTA Mobility, contact us here to set up your one-on-one during this event so we can talk about your next project.
Our Medical Equipment Planning, Technology Consulting, and Healthcare MEP teams are excited to attend the PDC Summit this year on March 20 – 23 in New Orleans. The PDC Summit is the premier event for thousands of healthcare and hospital facility senior leadership.
This summit will be your opportunity to:
Connect with other leaders and solution providers in planning, design, and construction management.
Participate in sessions covering critical topics highlighting the real-life collaboration that’s required to create, maintain, and plan for the future of safe healing environments.
Earn up to 22 continuing education credits, including AIA LUs & LU | HSWs.
The PDC Summit is a dynamic industry event coordinated by a trusted network of not-for-profit organizations with expertise in healthcare planning, design, and construction. 100% of conference revenue is reinvested into the mission of optimizing the healthcare physical environment. More than 3,000 senior leaders from hospitals, design firms, and construction companies attend the PDC Summit to share perspectives on optimizing healing environments. This is the one conference with an integrated audience of C-level, design, construction, and operations professionals with more than two-thirds of attendees returning to the event each year.
PDC Summit programming offers cutting-edge topics affecting the future of the healthcare built environment and presents thought-provoking research and presentations focusing on cross-team collaboration, PDC sustainability, designing for future generations, technology integration, and more.
Plan to attend the PDC Summit to network with top industry professionals in the field and get the information you need to maximize value in the healthcare built environment.
Designing Patient-Focused Healthcare Systems:
Achieving outstanding patient experiences requires leveraging today’s advanced healthcare technology with best-in-class engineering. Stop by Booth #415 or contact our team to learn how we can help your team accelerate efficiency, quality, and safety across your entire facility.
• The bipartisan infrastructure bill includes over $1 trillion in funding for improvements to U.S. buildings, roads, bridges, railways, and more.
• Many aspects of the bill focus on improving sustainability, reducing carbon emissions, and focusing on resiliency.
• At Ross & Baruzzini, we’re excited to see the positive impact this bill has on the U.S. infrastructure.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed by President Joe Biden is a bipartisan bill that includes over $1 trillion in guaranteed funding for United States infrastructure. It isn’t a one-time payment, but continual guaranteed funding through 2026.
But what’s in the infrastructure bill exactly, and why is our team at Ross & Baruzzini excited about it? As it turns out, there’s quite a lot of information to unpack. Sectors such as transportation, aviation, and rail and transit, among others, will receive funding for various improvements. We’re particularly excited to see the positive impact the bill has based on its consistent theme of resiliency and sustainability.
Check out the infrastructure bill breakdown below to see what’s included and why it matters.
Roads and Highways
The bill has a 34% increase in funding for existing highway programs, and every state department of transportation will benefit. Some of the key points the bill focuses on are reducing carbon emissions, increasing resiliency investments, and allocating new funding for Vision Zero. Some highlights of the bill include eliminating the “fiscal constraint” requirement in the transportation planning process and setting aside funds specifically for an EV charging infrastructure.
“The bill provides massive funding for both transit agencies and EV charging infrastructure, which excites me the most as I am part of the mobility team with an electrical background,” says Rashmi Khatuja, Associate Consultant – Mobility Systems. “It would be very interesting to see how the transit agencies adopt and work with the new framework of EV over the next five years.”
Transportation is another large part of the bill, with $500 million over five years going to the new Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation program. State and local governments will receive grants for planning and funding innovative tech that improves the safety and efficiency of transportation. Different projects that can be funded under the SMART program include smart traffic signals, smart grid, systems integration, and more.
Maroun Ghanem, Business Development Director – Mobility Systems, believes the SMART program is one of the most exciting aspects of the bill. “This will open the door for innovation and opportunities in our field,” Ghanem says. “The most significant impact will be with smaller transportation agencies that historically struggled with funding. Most agencies will see at least a 30% increase from the infrastructure bill.”
Rail and Transit
The bill allocates a 31% increase in formula funding for the Federal Transit Administration, and it increases funding for the FTA’s Capital Investment Grant program. The bill increases funding for intercity rail (primarily for Amtrak and the Northeast Corridor), EV charging infrastructure, and rail-grade crossing improvements. In the next two years after the bill’s enactment, U.S. DOT will create a cybersecurity product that protects transportation agencies, highway owners and operators, and product manufacturers from cyberattacks.
The aviation sector will receive $15 billion over five years for airport improvement projects. This almost doubles previous federal funding. Funds will be distributed among small, medium, and large airports based on a formula listed in the bill. Projects supported by the funding include improving air traffic towers, developing terminals, noise compatibility planning, gate area construction and maintenance, fuel storage tank replacements, power systems support, and facility security risk management.
Almost $40 billion is set aside for highway bridge projects, $27.5 billion for state bridges, and $12 billion for a new grant program. The Discretionary Grant Program is a competitive program designated to help state, local, federal, and tribal governments repair or replace existing bridges and construct new bridges. The size of each grant is intended to cover the entirety of the bridge project it’s allocated for. There is also grant money available specifically for large projects, which will be awarded through an application and evaluation process.
Port and Marine
The infrastructure bill sets aside $2.25 billion over five years for the Port Infrastructure Development program under Maritime Administration at the U.S. Department of Transportation. The program funding will go toward purchasing new equipment; addressing concerns related to rising sea levels, flooding, and extreme weather; developing microgrids for port terminals; electrification master planning; and installing infrastructure that supports electric vehicles and alternative refueling. The bill also designated $250 million over five years for reducing air emissions from idling vehicles at port facilities.
Existing water infrastructure programs will be supported by the bill, and funding will be administered by the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. There are several grants available that state and local governments can apply for. Over five years, $11.7 billion will go to the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, $10 billion will go toward removing water contaminants, and $15 billion will go toward removing lead in drinking water. Each year, $280 million will be set aside for sanitary sewer overflow and stormwater reuse. Western water infrastructure, which is overseen by the Bureau of Reclamation, will also receive $8.3 billion in funding.
Improving sustainability is a theme woven throughout the entirety of the bill. It also has a distinct focus on resiliency. Over five years, $14 billion will go to these efforts. Much of the funding will go to improving electric grid reliability as well as programs within the Federal Emergency Management Agency, such as the Flood Mitigation Assistance Program and the Building Resilient Infrastructure Communities Program.
The bill includes funding specifically for sustainable buildings and places a large emphasis on increasing energy efficiency in public schools. The Department of Energy will administer the new Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program, which will have $550 million in funding over five years. Local schools and education agencies can apply for funds to invest in building improvements focused on energy efficiency, renewable energy, low- to zero-emission vehicles for student transportation, and improvements that impact the health of students and staff.
Energy and Cybersecurity
The bill also focuses on addressing cybersecurity, which is an integral component of resiliency. There’s $1 billion in funding dedicated to new cybersecurity programs administered by FEMA for state, local, tribal, and territorial governments; an EPA study on potential threats to wastewater treatment facilities; and the previously mentioned U.S. DOT tool that will safeguard agencies from cyberattacks.
The new infrastructure bill contains a lot of exciting updates, and our team is excited to be a part of the change. The bill impacts many aspects of our business and expertise, so we’ll be participating in the future of U.S. infrastructure as it unfolds.
“I believe the most significant impact of the bill would be on society as a whole as it provides better and safer infrastructure by transforming our highway and transit modes and improving transportation facilities for us; thereby trying to decrease the greenhouse emission which is the need of the hour,” says Khatuja.
At Ross & Baruzzini, we deliver integrated technology, consulting, and engineering solutions to a range of markets, including aviation, mobility systems, and public safety, among others. Reach out today to learn more about how we can help your team navigate the future of infrastructure and support your ongoing efforts.
The future brings significant opportunities to unleash the economic power of our megaregions and enable equitable access to transportation. Those national benefits can be achieved by building a robust high-speed and intercity passenger rail network that is environmentally friendly, resilient, and sustainable.
The High-Speed Rail Conference will bring together a wide range of stakeholders and advocates to cover the full range of questions that need to be addressed in making that vision a reality.
Start Planning for the Future and Connect with Our Mobility Experts
High-performance rail will require detailed planning and long-term strategy. If you’re attending, contact us here to set up your one-on-one during this event so we can talk about your next project.
This post was originally published on August 6, 2014 and updated on Dec 14, 2021.
Our fire protection team provided Missouri State University with their first automatic, large-scale, synthetic turf irrigation system, designed for the field hockey turf at the new Betty & Bobby Allison North Stadium.
The Missouri State University water cannon system was designed to provide the new field hockey turf with adequate coverage for safer field conditions and quicker gameplay. The water cannon system is timed for a set duration that can be actuated with remote control activation. The six main sprinklers can launch water over half the distance of the field for complete field coverage. The field is equipped with six Underhill M-160 sprinklers in which two sprinklers are activated at a time on either side of the field.
There are several safety features included to prevent a bystander from being washed away in the several-hundred gallons-per-minute streams of water powered by the activated sprinklers. An alarm triggers to clear the field prior to discharge of the M-160 sprinklers and smaller sprinklers as a warning to persuade anyone standing too close to the cannon to evacuate.
The design allows the Missouri State University field hockey team to treat their field before a game, during half-time, or prior to practice to ensure consistent playability.
Ross & Baruzzini is an approved RCx study provider for AES Indiana and Evergy Missouri. This qualification allows us to perform a retro-commissioning study to help you achieve greater energy savings with associated utility incentives for your project.
Retro-commissioning (RCx), or existing building commissioning, is a systematic process developed to evaluate, record, and improve a building’s operations. Our team can assist with:
Creating prescriptive and custom measure applications
Providing required energy calculations
Compiling and submitting the required accompanying documentation on your organization’s behalf.
Our team has an extensive background with utility incentive programs. We will work with you and the utility reviewer to ensure that all possible incentive dollars are obtained.
After collecting introductory information regarding your building, such as mechanical and electrical systems information, utility costs, and future projects, we can help guide you towards a more energy-efficient facility:
Customers who purchase electricity from AES Indiana – formerly Indianapolis Power and Light – may be eligible to receive financial incentives for investing in energy efficiency. Customers can fill out any of three different types of applications to receive the financial incentives from the utility – along with proof of purchase, installation, and in some cases energy calculations – to receive financial incentives for certain energy efficiency measures. Any customer can receive an incentive for up to $100,000 per project and up to $500,000 per customer per year.
This application is the most simple and straightforward option when it comes to receiving incentive dollars from AES. There are three categories of prescriptive incentives – lighting, HVAC, and kitchen. Lighting incentive may include any retrofits where older lighting technology (incandescent, fluorescent, halogen, etc.) may be replaced with high efficiency equivalents, such as LEDs. This category also includes exit sign replacements, lighting controls, and de-lamping of overlit areas.
Lighting measures are typically a one for one replacement of lamps and fixtures, except in the case of lighting controls. The HVAC category mostly includes items related to heating, ventilation, and air conditioning – electric and some gas equipment are eligible.
Additionally, this category includes motors (pumps and fans), variable frequency drives, demand-controlled ventilation, smart or programmable thermostats, and air compressors.
Finally, the kitchen category encompasses a wide variety of measures. Most kitchen equipment replacements are eligible for incentives, but also included in this category are clothes washers, dryers, water heaters, vending machines, kitchen ventilation, and electronically commutated motors (ECMs).
While prescriptive incentives are the most straightforward, they generally do not pay as well as the custom or RCx incentive options can. To get the largest incentives, customers will have to “think outside the prescriptive box”, and implement measures not included in the prescriptive options.
This option includes all measures not listed in prescriptive or measures where the retrofit is not simply a one for one replacement. To receive incentives under this application category, the customer must also submit energy savings calculations along with the application, to prove that savings will be achieved.
If the implemented EEMs (Energy Efficiency Measures) span multiple different technology categories, one application per technology must be submitted. Custom incentives are paid out at a rate of $0.07 to $0.10 per kWh and will not be paid over 50% of the total material and labor cost for the project.
This final option incentivizes customers who hire an approved retro-commissioning provider (RCx) to find savings opportunities. Approved RCx providers perform an RCx study on a facility – this type of study is geared toward improving facility operations and saving energy. These comprehensive studies look at all building systems – from building envelopes to HVAC – to find the greatest energy saving opportunities.
In addition to the incentives received from any prescriptive or custom measure, an additional $0.04 per kWh of calculated savings will be awarded to the customer for any measures uncovered during the RCx study. This incentive maxes out at 75% of the total cost of the study.
To recap, AES customers have several opportunities to get paid for energy efficiency upgrades.
The simplest option is the prescriptive method, though simple, does not generally result in high incentive amounts. The custom incentives offer a better payout, but also require energy savings calculations to be submitted. RCx studies can be performed to uncover prescriptive and custom incentive opportunities, and these RCx studies are also incentivized by the program.
Additionally, for the remainder of the year, AES is offering bonus incentives for applications turned in before a specific deadline:
For an additional 30% incentive, customers can turn in their applications on or before September 30, 2021.
For an additional 25% incentive, customers can turn in their applications on or before December 31, 2021.
Customers who purchase electricity from Evergy in Missouri may be eligible to receive financial incentives for investing in energy efficiency:
This application is the most simple and straightforward option to receive incentive dollars from Evergy. For prescriptive measures where the incentive amount is less than $10,000, customers only need to submit an application within 90 days after the equipment has been purchased and installed. For any measures reaching an incentive greater than$10,000, pre-approval is required.
While prescriptive incentives are the most straightforward, they generally do not pay as well as the custom or RCx incentive options. To receive the largest incentives, customers will have to “think outside the prescriptive box” and implement measures not included in the prescriptive options.
This option includes all measures not listed in prescriptive, or those measures where the retrofit is not simply a one for one replacement. To receive incentives under this application category, the customer must also submit energy savings calculations along with the application, to prove that savings will be achieved.
Custom incentives are paid depending on which technology the savings are coming from.
On the high end, any cooling EEMs (Energy Efficiency Measures) implemented will achieve a rebate at a rate of $0.23/kWh saved. On the low end, HVAC without peak demand reduction, electric heating, and exterior lighting will be incentivized at a rate of $0.04/kWh saved.
This option incentivizes customers who hire an approved retro-commissioning provider (RCx) to find opportunities for savings. Approved RCx providers perform an RCx study on a facility – this type of study is one that is geared toward improving facility operations and saving energy. These studies are comprehensive and look at all building systems – from building envelope to HVAC – to find the greatest energy saving opportunities.
In addition to the incentives received from any prescriptive or custom measure, additional incentives will be awarded to the customer for any measures that were uncovered during the RCx study. This incentive maxes out at 100% of the total cost of the study.
To be eligible for the RCx incentive, facilities must be over 100,000 square feet (individual building or campus) and there must be an operational energy management system (EMS) installed. Additionally, any measures implemented that were discovered during the RCx study will be incentivized at rates similar to those custom incentives, albeit at a slightly lower rate.
The new construction incentive option is intended to promote efficiency and sustainability.
New construction includes the following:
There is not an existing building footprint in place,
gut rehab of an existing building where all mechanical and electrical systems will be replaced,
a “warm shell” construction project where the core elements of the building are included in the project, while future tenants can furnish or expand on the existing building.
Prescriptive and custom incentive options are both available to new construction, but for custom options, the baseline will be decided upon by the building owner and Evergy.
Another option for new construction is whole building performance. Incentives will be awarded based on the savings shown from a whole building energy model. For buildings showing between 10% and 25% savings, incentives will be calculated at $0.03 per kWh saved over baseline – and this amount increases to $0.04 per kWh if savings are over 25%. This incentive maxes out at $50,000 per site.
To recap, Evergy Missouri customers have several opportunities to get paid for energy efficiency upgrades.
The simplest option is the prescriptive method. While prescriptive incentives are the most straightforward, they generally do not pay as well as the custom or RCx incentive options can. To get the largest incentives, customers will have to “think outside the prescriptive box”, so to speak, and implement measures that are not included in the prescriptive options.
RCx studies can be performed to uncover prescriptive and custom incentive opportunities, and these RCx studies are also incentivized by the program. New construction incentives are available for brand new buildings or gut rehabs, and building owners have the option to submit an energy model to obtain an incentive for overall building energy savings over the baseline.
Get to Know Your Experts
Jonathon Bell is an experienced Energy Engineer at Ross & Baruzzini with a demonstrated history of working in the energy services industry. He is a Certified Energy Manager (CEM), Certified Energy Auditor (CEA), and a LEED Green Associate. He earned his Bachelor’s degree focused in Energy Engineering from Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis.
Annie Smith is a Director of Energy Services and Mechanical Engineer at Ross & Baruzzini with experience in energy audits and mechanical design. Her project experience includes commercial office buildings, research laboratories, residence halls, athletic and recreation facilities, and healthcare facilities. Annie has expertise in the ASHRAE Procedures for Commercial Energy Audits, lifecycle cost and payback analyses, and Revit and BIM technologies. She is involved in the local St. Louis chapters of ASHRAE, USGBC, and AEE.
The United States is at a critical crossroads with its transportation infrastructure.
In late July, Senate Republicans and Democrats voted to push forward a $1 trillion infrastructure bill that would help rebuild antiquated transportation systems. Considering how critical transportation is in the U.S., this is good news.
Americans feel the effects of our outdated transportation infrastructure every day, so it makes sense that the infrastructure bill has been enormously popular with both parties. The 2021 American Society of Civil Engineers report on U.S. infrastructure emphasises the need for transportation network investment, citing:
“As this study shows, we risk significant economic losses, higher costs to consumers, businesses and manufacturers – and our quality of life – if we don’t act urgently. When we fail to invest in infrastructure, we pay the price.” – ASCE Executive Director Tom Smith
To create a more resilient transportation system, we can’t simply patch up old infrastructure. Leaders in transportation need to start thinking in new ways to prepare for the future.
The Future of Train Dispatching
Ross & Baruzzini received a grant from the Transportation Research Board to develop HoloRail. Our objectives were:
Test the usefulness of augmented reality (AR) technology as a train dispatcher’s user interface
Receive feedback from train dispatcher staff
Publish our results
Most train dispatchers use multimonitor 2D displays to keep trains and crews moving safely and efficiently across the railway network. However, the bulky equipment limits the layout of control theaters and ties dispatchers to one location.
HoloRail uses AR technology, which enhances the real world with computer-generated information,enables train dispatching in an interactive 3D environment. Virtual reality typically blocks users’ vision. But with AR, train dispatchers can still see and hear what’s going on around them. HoloRail lets dispatchers see informational panels above trains and get a more holistic view of track layouts thanks to the additional planes of movement the tech offers. HoloRail also enables dispatchers to use head and hand movements to manage track diagrams, alarms, train and station information, and so on.
Putting HoloRail to the Test
Staff from the Utah Transit Authority and Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority partnered with us on the project to determine its requirements, perform user testing, and provide feedback.
After 10 minutes of training, 90% of dispatchers learned to use the interface. About 80% said they would feel comfortable using HoloRail on the job. Given these positive results, we believe it is a viable future option after additional testing is completed.
The primary limitations we encountered involved the hardware. The headset battery, for instance, lasted two and a half hours during user testing. However, train dispatchers usually work eight-hour shifts.
Additionally, some dispatchers mentioned that the headset felt uncomfortable after an hour. The good news is the manufacturers are making significant improvements in wearability and battery life daily, improving the likelihood of AR technology adoption by train dispatchers in the future.
The Vast Potential for AR in Transportation
AR’s use cases in transportation don’t begin and end with train dispatchers. For example, AR also offers an exciting breakthrough in remote maintenance. Field technicians can wear AR headsets to collaborate with remote technicians who will be able to see what the field technician sees and highlight items in their line of sight. And when the technicians need information or specifications, they can simply overlay it on the dynamic display.
Additionally, there’s an opportunity to modify the train dispatching platform to work for bus dispatching. Such a platform could display 3D map views of bus locations, seamlessly integrate camera feeds, and communicate important information.
To meet our current and future needs, we must focus on technology adoption. At Ross & Baruzzini, we’re committed to sensing and responding to disruption in the transportation industry in order to address emerging needs and usher in the future of intelligent transportation systems.
Megan Huff, PfMPis the vice president and managing principal of the Mobility Systems division of Ross & Baruzzini, a premier international technology consulting and engineering firm. With more than 20 years of experience in the transportation industry, Megan has an extensive track record in end-to-end delivery of complex, high-priority projects on tight schedules within mission-critical service organizations.