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Town of Leesburg, Loudoun County and AOL Collaborate on GIS Crowd Sourcing Event
As part of its “Monster Help Day” volunteer program, AOL employees spent a day collecting locations of Leesburg street signs.
Leesburg, VA (June 7, 2017) – The Town of Leesburg has over 6,000 street signs in the public right of way – street name signs, regulatory signs, directional signs, warning signs, informational signs, wayfinding signs. In order to keep track of all these signs, the Town is working to create a new mapping layer in its Geographic Information System (GIS) that will pinpoint the location of each and every sign. Once created, data from the GIS map layer will be imported into the Town’s asset management system.
Creating that new GIS layer requires going out into the field with a mobile device which is equipped with an application for GIS data collection. The app allows the user to capture a photo of the sign and to populate the layer’s attribute table with information like the sign’s type and condition. Once travel time is factored in, the average person can record about 100 signs a day, meaning that it would take one person approximately 60 days, or 12 work weeks, to gather data on all of the signs in Town! Enter AOL and Monster Help Day.
Once a year, AOL employees across the world volunteer in their local communities to do some good and give back to the community. For the past several years, volunteers from the local AOL office have assisted the Loudoun County Office of Mapping and Geographic Information with various mapping projects. This year, they agreed to help the Town of Leesburg in cataloging the Town’s street signs.
Town of Leesburg staff explain the sign data collection
process to AOL volunteers.
On Friday, May 19, 2017, twenty AOL employees fanned out across Leesburg, using a mobile app created by Loudoun County Mapping, to capture data on Town’s street signs. In four hours, the group took photos and captured the locations of almost 800 signs, making a serious dent in the sign inventory.
According to Felix Tanh, Senior Technical Manager with AOL, while cataloging the signs was a lot of work, it was a great experience. The volunteers came from a variety of divisions within AOL, including sales, human resources and IT engineering, but none specialize in GIS or mapping technologies.
“It was refreshing to be outside for a day, using a mobile app in the field,” says Felix who manages a team of mobile app developers. “Many of our group didn’t know each other before, so the day became a team building exercise for us as well. I understand that two interns for Public Works will be taking the project from here, so we’re happy we were able to give them a good jumpstart.”
“We appreciate Loudoun County introducing us to this program,” says Renée LaFollette, Leesburg’s Director of Public Works and Capital Projects. “It is a great collaboration between the Town, the County and the private sector. I especially would like to thank the AOL volunteers for their time and efforts. The data they gathered has given us a good start on digitizing our assets.”
Public Information Officer