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R.A. Smith National, Inc. Knowledge Blog

Think Mobile

by Kyle Belott 1. December 2012 07:43

The International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts that by 2015 smartphone sales will reach 982 million and, according to Morgan Stanley, by 2014 mobile web users will surpass traditional desktop internet users. At first glance these facts seem astounding. But not if you take a closer look at how many of our daily interactions with a desktop PC are becoming increasingly augmented by the use of smart devices. These days many of us don’t even think twice about using smart devices to navigate unfamiliar destinations, manage our appointment calendar, take notes at a meeting, browse the Internet and conduct many other routine activities. We have the ability to respond to phone calls, emails, texts, social networking – from anywhere. Add to this the ability to capture, store and use data while in that mobile environment.

A major contributor to the widespread use of mobile data is the ability for a smart device to tie location information to an activity. It’s these kinds of spatial relationships that enable us to make better decisions regarding just about any activity, ranging from choosing an entertainment venue to collecting and analyzing data regarding physical land or water features. And…today’s location-based data is even more reliable based on the proliferation of GPS and mobile operating systems. What’s more, wireless communications including Wi-Fi and broadband, allow data to be immediately accessed and updated on the spot.

In the engineering and construction industries, those of us at the forefront of this technology are using smart devices with GIS mapping applications to make informed decisions in real time in the field. GIS applications can be developed to conduct an inventory of assets, track the maintenance of valuable resources and their protection, map activities such as complete wetland delineations and urban forestry identification, locate nearby amenities and services, and more.

At R.A. Smith National we have developed several mobile GIS applications, across several operating systems (Windows XP, Windows Mobile 6.5, Windows 7, Android) and web-based platforms for the mobile data capture of sanitary, storm, water, street sign and urban forestry. Contact me at or 262-317-3364 to discuss how you can think mobile.

Read more about the emerging trends and opportunities for mobile data.



GIS | Technology

Join Us at the 30th Annual ICSC CenterBuild Conference!

by Steve Miazga 20. November 2012 08:55

Ahhh, the holidays are upon us! It truly is a great time to be with friends and family. And if you are in the retail construction industry, it is time to get to the premier retail design and construction conference –

CenterBuild. The conference, put on by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), will be held November 28 – 30, 2012 at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort and Spa in Phoenix, Arizona. If attendance is an indicator of a positive up-tick in our economy, then 2013 will be a great year as our conference attendance is approaching 1,300 professionals, up substantially over 2011.

This is the 30th anniversary of the CenterBuild Conference. Architects, retailers, developers and construction experts look forward to attending each year and the opportunities to stay current on retail development trends, expand their networks and share ideas on how to improve the projects they deliver. This year’s conference promises to once again provide a great agenda for learning. There will be more than 275 roundtable discussion topics offered (nearly all with AIA CEU approval), 12 dynamic educational workshops, as well as interactive case studies of great projects and their development. And don’t forget about the great networking at the conference! Networking receptions are held each evening and the format of the conference allows for plenty of connecting with friends and colleagues throughout the day.

With the larger attendance, we have once again brought back our Friday morning sessions. This year you may choose between two great concurrent sessions featuring leaders from top companies in the retail development world. The first will feature Walmart, Limited Brands and Target in a panel discussion regarding the use of in-house design staff versus hiring consultants. If you are more interested in how the major retailers roll-out their projects, you can attend the other session which is being presented by six national developers, retailers and contractors.

As co-chair of this year’s conference, I encourage you to attend if you have not made the decision to already. The R.A. Smith National team will be in attendance for the entire conference and we look forward to connecting with other professionals in this dynamic industry. Send me a note if you want to meet with one of us at the conference in Phoenix.


ICSC Centerbuild

R.A. Smith National is Growing!

by Darline Hoffins 11. October 2012 04:15

We are currently hiring civil engineers at our Brookfield, Wis. and Irvine, Calif. locations.  Please visit our employment page to learn more about these opportunities and the outstanding benefits we offer.



Human Resources

WDNR Puts Online Permit System In Place

by Heather Patti 2. August 2012 04:54

The Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources is setting up a new online permit system for some state water-related permits. WDNR water officials state that the new system will reduce paperwork and deliver quicker and more consistent permit decisions, while protecting lakes, rivers and wetlands. 

The online permit system has several different parts that are being phased in over the next year, so check back often as the system will be updated periodically. For the first time, applicants can now find 72 of the nearly 100 water-related permit applications on the same web page.

And, applicants for three of the most popular permit types can now fill out their applications, pay fees and track the progress of their applications online! The three permit types which are now ready for online processing are:  individual permits for wetland and waterway projects, permit applications for wastewater pit trench de-watering, and permit applications for aquatic plant management on private ponds. Several more are soon to come! These include wetland and waterway general permits, storm water construction site and Confined Animal Waste Operation (CAFO) permits.  More details are available in DNR’s media release.

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Why Are Some Left-Turn Arrows Now Flashing Yellow?

by John Bruggeman 11. July 2012 09:26

Have you noticed the flashing yellow left-turn arrows in Wisconsin? They’re popping up at several intersections including 51st Street and Brown Deer Road, village of Brown Deer; USH 18 (Bluemound Road) at Sunny Slope, Elm Grove Road and Underwood Creek Parkway in the city of Brookfield; STH 50 at STH 75/STH 83, town of Salem; I-43 ramps at Good Hope Road, city of Glendale and more.

The flashing yellow left-turn arrow indicates “yield to opposing (oncoming) traffic” as a substitute for the traditional green circular indication for left turns. Researchers have found that the flashing yellow arrow improves driver safety and awareness. Drivers should expect to see more of these in the next few years since the flashing yellow arrow is supported within the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), a design manual published by the Federal Highway Administration.

I was involved in the traffic signal design at 51st and Brown Deer as part of R.A. Smith National’s on-site services at the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT). This intersection utilizes flashing yellow left-turn arrows on all approaches and was one of the first of its kind in Wisconsin. As part of WisDOT’s Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP), the improvements were completed to address historical crash problems at the intersection.

For more information visit the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s website at





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