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Customer story

Innovative utility inspections using Fulcrum, GIS and 3D imaging

The Customer

TREKK Design Group, LLC.

TREKK offers comprehensive engineering design and consulting services, as well as technology offerings that help its clients work smarter.

Kansas City, MO

How TREKK transforms design, engineering, and inspection services for municipal utilities

The Challenges

  • Replace outdated paper-based inspections with a digital solution compatible with existing Access databases and EsriTM ArcGIS OnlineTM.
  • Field data collection quality control issues ranging from inaccurate or irrelevant data and/or missing location information.
  • Inspections of incorrect assets or structures within complex lines or grids due to inaccessible or missing spatial components.
  • Frustration in the field and home office fighting with non-purpose built inspection and data collection tools while trying to deliver on customer reporting and compliance requirements.
  • Unreliable hotspots and Internet connection results in teams “flying blind” in the field, unable to access databases or reliably collect information

Key Outcomes

  • Ability to rapidly create customized, “smart” client and project-specific mobile inspection apps that enable data integration and use across GIS, asset management, and other client operations platforms.
  • Guaranteed data accuracy and consistency using mobile inspection apps that make use of data- driven conditional and required field logic coupled with automatic latitude and longitude tagging of every record and data point.
  • Asset inspections are validated by ensuring that the right location data flows directly from the GIS to the inspector’s handheld device.
  • High field adoption and engagement with user- friendly mobile inspection apps created using a wide range of data types, conditional logic and streamlined workflows to deliver automated, turnkey reports included in GIS deliverables.
  • Fulcrum’s offline data collection not only allows teams to use databases but also to collect geotagged information for later syncing, without worrying about a network.


TREKK Design Group, LLC (TREKK) is a Missouri-based civil engineering firm founded in 2002 with the mission to engineer holistic, commonsense solutions that support the growth and restoration of the communities it serves.

TREKK provides a wide range of expertise to municipalities, specifically for utilities and transportation, encompassing design and planning, geospatial information systems and asset management, and construction engineering and inspections. They aptly describe their services portfolio as follows: “Need a road designed? We can help. Want to understand your underground infrastructure? We can do that, too. Have a problem and just need a commonsense solution? We’ve got you covered.”


Complementary field ops technologies deliver big-picture solutions

TREKK leverages a powerful technology portfolio which includes Fulcrum’s Field Inspection Management platform, the Esri™ ArcGIS Online™ geospatial information system (GIS), and 3D imaging software to deliver to its clients a 360° view of their field assets and utility operations.

Jared Carey, Innovation Specialist at TREKK, describes how his company stays on the leading edge: “Basically, we do consulting, we do civil engineering, we do underground inspections, structural inspections, anything that involves civil engineering. And we are leveraging technology to make that experience better, smarter, more relevant to modern times, more accurate, and more thorough.” Jared has spearheaded the technology innovations for TREKK in areas such as surveys, underground asset inspections and inventories. For underground assets, it’s often the case that clients don’t know exactly where all the assets are located, so TREKK is retained to perform asset location mapping and audits.

As Jared explains, “We will map the connectivity between different assets using ArcGIS – for example, these sewer pipes go from this manhole to this other manhole, or a cluster of manholes throughout the city. Then by layering in Fulcrum, we’re not just mapping the asset, we’re also collecting all the attributes, the condition, the structure design, the measurements, the big picture, and using this data to deliver a turnkey report that we include in our GIS deliverables.”

Harnessing the power of GIS data using Esri in combination with customizable digital inspection and reporting capabilities of Fulcrum enables TREKK to help clients inventory their utility assets, determine their current conditions, identify failure modes, rate risk levels, prioritize and establish maintenance plans, and develop long-term funding strategies.

The power of purpose-built digital field inspection

When developing utility asset assessment and management strategies, TREKK makes a point to develop programs that maximize the value of its clients’ existing platforms and data, while providing the best possible service to their users. In the municipal sector for utilities, many have already adopted Esri for their GIS needs. Digital inspection is more of an open field, with many clients still relying on paper-based data collection, or free digital forms solutions that, as part of larger enterprise platforms, are not purpose-built to support required functionality and data accuracy.

Under Jared’s leadership, TREKK folded Fulcrum into its technology tools for digital field inspection management roughly seven years ago. “Initially we didn’t really know which way we wanted to lean, but we were certain it wasn’t going to be on paper anymore. So we had access to databases. We were getting into ArcGIS online with Esri. Fulcrum offered the quickest, lowest cost entry point for building extremely sophisticated forms with data driven, ‘smart’ logic, designed to work with our other platforms,” says Jared.

Foolproof data collection with automatic location intelligence

Fulcrum features that have proven instrumental in ensuring thoroughness and accuracy of inspections and field assessments include automatic geotagging of all inspection records and data points using mobile device location intelligence, as well as mandatory, unskippable fields and conditional logic.

“The inspectors can’t even leave the job site without getting all the data in Fulcrum the way we want it to be,” says Jared. ”Before, we were dealing with quality control issues of missing data, incorrect, irrelevant data, and not even being sure we were inspecting the right structure because we had no spatial component. So Fulcrum brings the latitude and longitude to everything. Every record has an x and y coordinate. If the GIS map shows the manhole’s location, and you can see that you’re within 10 feet on the Fulcrum record, then that must be the right manhole. It validated each record location.”

Making inspections easier

Jared notes other challenges of trying to implement successful inspection and survey components of their programs using paper or free ad-hoc solutions. “We were doing manhole inspections that had 150 fields’ worth of data to collect. It’s hard when our crews have pencil and paper, and they also have their camera in hand, and they’re trying to juggle it all. And when they’re writing information down, they’re sometimes messing things up because a paper form doesn’t force their pen in the right form field with the right values.”

In addition, free digital form solutions that came along with some of its clients’ existing GIS or field ops platforms were not much better. These solutions often lacked basic capabilities such as being able to quantify when and how many photos an inspector should take. Further issues included difficulty in labeling photos, not providing record or data spatial components, and inability of field teams to perform work when offline, all contributing to worker frustration and incomplete field data.

Jared shares a story from when he first introduced Fulcrum roughly seven years ago. “One of our field guys called me after hours and for 50 minutes pleaded to me: Please don’t make me go back to the old way. This is so much easier, we get so many more linear feet of [smoke testing] done in a day because of this platform. Because there’s no Internet issues, we can get our photos and run with the points that are easy to capture. There’s no separate GPS system we’re trying to juggle. And from that day forward, the fire was fanned – everybody in the field wanted to use it.”


Streamlining deliverables

Leveraging Fulcrum’s purpose-built field inspection management platform holds many benefits for the back office too. Jared says, “At TREKK there is tremendous value in minimizing downtime, troubleshooting, and frustration. With Fulcrum we can design ‘smart’ inspection forms with simple drag and drop fields that include conditional logic. It’s easy, and we don’t need to train our staff to be programmers. We can build forms quickly in Fulcrum, without any expertise. And in addition to ensuring our field teams are consistently collecting the right data in the right format using the ‘smart’ inspection apps we design, we also leverage Fulcrum to automate turnkey reports we include in our GIS deliverables.”

The right technologies – the right results

By using the right complement of technologies including Fulcrum for field inspections and data collection, Esri for GIS, and now with added innovative capabilities including 360° imagery, TREKK continues to break new boundaries in providing quality and efficient services to its municipal clients. Combining the power of these technologies has almost doubled TREKK’s field progress while eliminating “clean-ups.”

Jared explains, “Let’s say our traditional inspection methodology would support 15 manhole inspections in a day. Modern methodology combining Fulcrum and Esri with the 3D camera supports up to 30 inspections. We used to have to dedicate one of our teams roughly one day per week for field clean-ups, where we’re sending teams back to reinspect field assets due to missing or unclear data. Now we can perform these in the office on the fly using inspection data in combination with the power of 3D models.”

Looking to the future

Jared concludes, “In addition to providing comprehensive engineering design and consulting services, TREKK also strives to provide technology offerings that help its clients work smarter. And in the last five years, I’ve seen more explosive growth, technology adoption, and innovation than ever.”

The technology providers TREKK relies on also don’t stand still. Fulcrum has licensed Esri’s Runtime software development kit to deliver seamless integration between the Fulcrum field inspection management platform and Esri ArcGIS. As a result, customers that need to build, deploy, and manage complex field inspection applications can have real-time, seamless bi-directional data integration between Fulcrum and ArcGIS. This allows TREKK to better stay on track and on schedule, delivering client solutions that empower communities and improve lives.

“This is a game changer for our organization,” says Jared. “This new integration will dramatically improve current operations while also opening many additional use cases for TREKK and our clients.”

Ready to integrate your valuable utilities inspection data into (and from) other applications, data warehouses, and GIS platforms? Fulcrum field inspection management software plays well with others, making your other applications more powerful, your decisions more informed, and your field operations more effective. Sign up for your free trial of Fulcrum and get started today!


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