New real estate hybrid tool nets time, financial savings for document management

By Brittany Scruggs
Fort Worth District, Real Estate Division

The Fort Worth District Hybrid Tool for Real Estate Data Management Team was notified of its selection as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 2016 Innovation of the Year Award August 4, during an Executive Governance Meeting at HQ USACE.

Team members recognized were Robert Heselton, Senior GIS Analyst/Programmer, Jennifer Holland, GIS Analyst/Web Programmer, Peter Nowell, Real Estate Auditor/RPAO, and Mike Weber, Operations Geospatial Data and Systems Specialist.

A need to validate the accuracy and consistency of data contained within documents, maps and Real Estate Information Management System records existed as well as a need to provide a standard of how to proceed in the future. These needs made way for the Hybrid Tool, a web-enabled, interactive mapping application and viewer with three major components; a digital library of real estate documents, a database of geospatially referenced property tract maps, and a direct link access to REMIS.

According to Holland, the hardest part of getting the tool established was, having all of us work together to design the process to go from point A to Z. “How we wanted to take it was key because there are sometimes barriers that keep each organization from communicating with one another.”

Nowell agreed and explained, having three sets of departments represented as far as information, and the system, “not one of us could build it on our own; it took each of our specific type of knowledge in order for it to come together.”

Due to the implementation of the Hybrid Tool, the District was able to complete the Army Military Land Tract project, which represents more than 40 percent of the Corps total maps published data, with the most accurate geospatially referenced maps possible, while achieving a 99 percent validation rate in less time compared to other Districts. The Hybrid Tool made a significant financial impact by reducing the resources used on AMLT project monitoring, status updates, and upward reporting by at least 95 percent. It is estimated the Hybrid Tool increased AMLT productivity between 25-35 percent which curbed lost productivity, an estimated cost of $160,000 annually, due to document searching.

Having all relevant documents immediately available saves significant time and promotes a standardized work-flow for initiating, conducting, completing and documenting real estate actions. Upon hearing the news of the award, the team was “shocked” and Weber elaborated saying, “It’s really nice to pursue something that is really a passion and get recognized for it. It has been a journey and these four people represented here are only a small portion of the many people that have contributed to it over the years.”

“The data is what’s important to me in this whole process,” said Heselton. The Hybrid tool worked with high accuracy data being produced that could be used for current and future projects and was well received by other districts. “The goal of the Hybrid tool has been to, do it once, do it right, and then we don’t have to do it again.”

Col. Calvin C. Hudson, commander, Fort Worth District said, the beneficial impacts of the Hybrid Tool are wide-ranging from execution, financial, workflow and process, knowledge management and customer satisfaction. “There is no other application within the Corps of Engineers that provides the functionality of the Hybrid Tool and I look forward to seeing how we can incorporate this database Corps wide.”

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