Spike Stories: City of Westminster Streamlines Inspections With Spike

31 August 2016

Whenever a private entity in the city of Westminster proposes a new building or structure, the city’s Department of Community Development approves the plan and issues a permit with certain construction parameters. After construction, Scott Kolowitz, official development plan inspector for the city of Westminster, visits the build site to ensure the facility is in accordance with the permit. From landscaping to signage and even parking spaces, Kolowitz measures nearly every structure outside of the new building.

To take these numerous measurements, Kolowitz used to rely on the traditional tape measure, but this process had its issues, he says. Not only is manually recording measurements time-consuming but the tape measure also had a tendency to break in midair. With the tape measure frequently failing, Kolowitz had to take repeated measurements, which made it difficult to work efficiently. Additionally, Kolowitz isn’t allowed to use a ladder because of liability issues, making it difficult to take measurements of tall structures, such as a monument sign.

“We have a 25-foot limit to monument signs, so for something that tall, I almost couldn’t measure it,” Kolowitz says. “I’d have to eyeball it. In other cases, I’d have to measure a brick and then count the number of bricks.”
Kolowitz decided to look for a better way to capture his measurements and found an inexpensive laser distance measuring device on Amazon. However, Kolowitz quickly realized there was a reason for that low price tag.

“You could take one measurement that would look accurate and then measure again and the dimension would be completely off,” Kolowitz says. “On top of the accuracy issue, you couldn’t see the laser in the sunlight, so it was hard to use in the field.”

Meanwhile, Dave Murray, GIS coordinator for the city of Westminster, met with ikeGPS to learn about Spike, a smart laser measurement solution for conducting site surveys. After a field test, Murray recognized the value of Spike and suggested Kolowitz try Spike on his inspections. Kolowitz only tested Spike in the field once before he was sold.

To measure a structure, Kolowitz now takes a photo of the object with Spike and his iPad and draws the measurements that he needs for inspections. Every dimension is saved with the photo inside of the Spike mobile app. When Kolowitz needs to measure the distance between two objects, he uses Spike’s Point-to-Point tool. Kolowitz finds that the Point-to-Point tool is especially useful when verifying the height of a monument sign or distance between the curb and a structure, such as a deck.

For Kolowitz, Spike’s biggest benefit is its time-saving ability, he says. In fact, since using Spike, Kolowitz finds that he completes inspections at least twice as fast, and he no longer has to worry about the inefficiencies that come with using a tape measure.

“Almost every time I would pull out my tape measure, it would break on me, or the wind would blow it over,” Kolowitz says. “My inspections would take much longer than they probably should have, but now I go out with Spike, hit a button, and it takes only seconds.”

With the time Spike saves in the field, Kolowitz better manages his priorities, he says. For instance, if Kolowitz has a sign inspection and apartment complex inspection in one day, he can finish his sign inspection in five minutes as opposed to the half an hour that it used to take. Kolowitz then has more time to focus on the apartment complex inspection, which typically requires many measurements.

Kolowitz now doesn’t have to rush through jobs, which makes for a more accurate measuring process.

If Kolowitz ever forgets to measure an object in the field, he simply reopens the Spike photo to take additional measurements, which saves him time because he doesn’t have to make any return trips. The ability to capture mobile measurements is also helpful when Kolowitz faces adverse weather, he says.

“In Colorado, you could have a snowy, rainy or 100-degree day,” Kolowitz says. “On those days, I’ll just step out of the truck, take a picture and get back in the truck with the air conditioning or heater running and take my measurements there.”

Spike also allows Kolowitz to access hard-to-reach inspection areas, he says. During one recent inspection, Kolowitz needed to measure a fence, but train tracks, tall weeds and a ditch stood in his way. Rather than trek through those hazards, Kolowitz stood at a safe distance and captured the measurements he needed with Spike.

Now that Kolowitz has implemented Spike into his inspection process, he has more confidence in his measurements, he says. Kolowitz turns around inspections faster without sacrificing accuracy. No matter the building height, weather or surrounding environment, Kolowitz captures the measurements he needs with Spike.

Want to learn more about Spike in government?

Visit our Spike government page to see how Spike can help your department or agency work more efficiently and save on its bottom line.

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