Every year, the National Local Technical Assistance Program Association (NLTAPA) hosts the ‘Build a Better Mousetrap’ competition. Competing at the local and regional levels, transportation workers submit their creative solutions for everyday transportation problems. These solutions might be ways to reduce costs or improve efficiencies or increase safety through changes to current practice. The winners of local and regional competitions go on to compete for the overall award at the annual LTAP national conference.

This month, my journeys took me to Henrico County to present the VA LTAP’s regional Mousetrap award to Jason Collins (manager of the county’s GIS office) and Steve Clark (drainage manager for the county). They put their heads together to come up with a real-time, mobile solution to coordinate public works crews to remove snow, ice, downed trees, power lines and other traffic hazards. They came up with a mobile GIS system that uses ipads or smart phones along with an online mapping system to schedule work crews, respond to complaints and build a ‘virtual’ paper trail. The system is specific to roadways and subdivisions in Henrico County but can be adapted to other locales. It’s a no-cost solution (as long as you have access to an enterprise licensing agreement and mobile devices) to improve response time, reduce duplication, eliminate paper records and create visuals of which crews are where and when.

Thanks to Jason for providing a video describing the GIS system in action. https://youtu.be/XJSnI0ERVrk

The Mousetrap competition is a great incentive to put your thinking cap on about ways to address problems you encounter as you do your job everyday. Let me know if you have an idea you’d like to brainstorm and I’ll be happy to help. I can come out to meet with you and/or recommend some good resources. Who knows? You might be the builder of the next better mousetrap.

L to R: Steve Clark, Henrico County Public Works; Jim Zarling, UVA TTA/VA LTAP; Jason Collins, Henrico County Public Works

Want to learn more? Check out:



Contact Jason at jason.collins@henrico.us.

Remember to reach out to me at jwz9m@virginia.edu if you’d like to schedule a time for me to visit. Contact Robin Carpenter at rbh3c@virginia.edu if you have an idea for a training class.

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