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R.A. Smith National, Inc. Knowledge Blog

Trimble SketchUp Brings Projects to Life

by Tom Mortensen 3. July 2012 05:19

More and more, we’re seeing projects come to life using Trimble SketchUp as a 3D modeling design tool. As a landscape architect, I don’t necessarily use it as a final rendering tool for presentation graphics as the color rendering capability is not that sophisticated, but where it has been very helpful is in the design development and decision-making process on complex projects.

As an example, SketchUp became an invaluable design tool when our team was exploring some of the spatial relationships on the recently completed Summerfest project. This tool allowed the design team to relate to each other’s respected disciplines in 3D, making the meetings very productive. We also used SketchUp recently for a series of design charrettes for a large, regional park planning project in the village of Sussex, Wisconsin as a “live” design and visualization tool at public meetings. Participants were able to make decisions and draw consensus through the use of 3D imagery, while the park design was being developed in real time.

We also used 3D laser scanning technology along with SketchUp to build a series of renderings for a large courtyard plan for the Veteran’s Administration in Tomah, Wisconsin. For video tutorials on how SketchUp works, visit

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Make Plans to Attend the 2012 ICSC CenterBuild Conference

by Steve Miazga 19. June 2012 09:01

Setting the wheels in motion for a successful 2012 ICSC CenterBuild Conference. I’m co-chair of the planning committee and just returned from two days of planning in Dallas. In August we’ll announce some great speakers you won’t want to miss. The 2012 conference will be held at the J.W. Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa in Phoenix, Arizona, November 28 – 30, 2012. The conference is the premier retail design and construction conference. For the second year in a row the conference will be held together with the ICSC RetailGreen conference which focuses on sustainability. RetailGreen opens on November 27 at the same venue. For information on both conferences, visit or


ICSC Centerbuild

Technology Drives Traffic Count Efficiencies

by Pat Hawley 13. June 2012 05:13

Newer technology is driving efficiencies in the traffic count process. R.A. Smith National recently used a Miovision video camera to complete traffic counts for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation at several roadway intersections for the alternate route evaluation of the I-39 corridor project in the city of Janesville, Wisconsin, and surrounding areas.

The use of Miovision provides cost and time efficiencies (especially in remote locations where significant travel time savings can be achieved), by allowing one field person to collect data at several intersections.

Here’s how it works. The Miovision video camera is set up at an intersection to record all vehicles travelling through the intersection.  After the count is complete, the digital video is uploaded to Miovision. The Miovision software identifies, counts and records all vehicles traveling through the intersection (within 98% accuracy), and a traffic count report is then downloaded back to R.A. Smith National. 





Use a GIS Enterprise Solution to Better Manage Your Independent Data Systems

by Kyle Belott 4. April 2012 10:35
Many agencies are seeking a GIS enterprise solution to manage multiple, independent data systems as a single system. One example is maintaining your infrastructure in a GIS through the use of a relational database management system (RDBMS). I have worked with several clients to develop an RDBMS whereby infrastructure assets are linked to their accounting database. This type of relational database then enables you to output metrics on the infrastructure’s life and replacement cost for capital improvement planning purposes. Converting your CAD data to GIS is typically a first step toward this goal. Contact me for more information.



Construction Survey Staking New Steel Mill

by Pete Brothers 4. April 2012 10:28

Steel making is back! My hometown Pittsburgh is popping with activity around the Marcellus Shale natural gas boom. But another big story is steel and a new $1.3 billion steel mill project just north of Pittsburgh and near our office.

I am coordinating construction staking for a portion of the massive project. I have four crews on our piece of the project which involves providing high accuracy placement of pilings and third-party as-built surveying. I am amazed at the increasing activity and the progress each week. To meet tight schedules, we are operating six days a week on site for Allegheny Technologies Incorporated, Allegheny Ludlum Corporation, the mill owners. This will be an advanced-specialty metals, hot-rolling processing facility. 


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