Minnesota Department of Transportation

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News Release

Aug. 1, 2017

MnDOT culvert inspection device honored as state government innovation award winner

ROCHESTER, Minn. – The Hydraulic Inspection Vehicle Explorer (HIVE) developed by the Minnesota Department of Transportation in Rochester was recently honored among 10 winners of the 2017 State Government Innovation Awards.

Their efforts were recognized by the Humphrey School of Public Affairs through the 2017 State Government Innovation Awards, organized in partnership with the Bush Foundation to highlight 10 projects that find innovative solutions to address the needs of Minnesota residents. The awards were given out at a ceremony in St. Paul on July 27.

The HIVE uses a radio-operated care modified with lights and a wireless camera connection that sends images to a tablet held by an inspector. The device uses off the shelf hobby shop equipment to provide the needed data for managing the pipes and culverts under and adjacent to the state’s highways by helping an inspector determine the full condition of the culverts and pipes, not just what they can observe from peering into it.

One person can do the work of multiple people. By providing better data at the right time, the effort aids designers to develop more accurate construction project price estimates. District 6 personnel, who have expertise in radio-operated vehicles outside of their jobs at MnDOT, built similar machines for MnDOT’s other seven districts and catalogued the assembly and parts.

“We’re honored that a device that has improved our effectiveness and efficiency has been able to be shared with other MnDOT districts,” said Jeff Vlaminck, transportation district engineer for District 6 in southeast Minnesota. “The HIVE idea came from our inspector, who worked with others in District 6 to refine and improve it for performance in the field.”

Rob Coughlin, a hydraulics inspector in Rochester, Kris Langlie, the District 6 hydraulics engineer, Chade Trupe and Mark Hill in District 6 inventory each played a role in the development of the HIVE.

The HIVE was among other winning state government projects that included improvements of recycling efforts at the State Capitol, provided more affordable solar energy and expanded air quality alerts, in efforts to bring better services to state residents through creativity, collaboration, and efficiency.

Jay Kiedrowski, senior fellow at the Humphrey School's Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center and one of the award judges, said the 56 projects submitted this year are proof that government does many things right.

“Our government officials are trying new ways to deliver services more efficiently and effectively, with great results,” he said. “Each of these innovations has had a significant positive payback for the dollars invested, while improving services for Minnesotans. We hope these awards will encourage an environment of experimentation and creativity through state government.”

Kiedrowski and the panel of judges considered the submissions for their creativity, sustainability, and cost-effectiveness.

The awards, now in their fourth year, were inspired by the Humphrey School’s annual Local Government Innovation Awards, which recognize schools, cities, townships, and county government entities for their programs and projects.

Other winners of 2017 State Government Award included:

  • Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, Vocational Rehabilitation Services: Way to Work Project
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency: Statewide Air Quality Index Forecasting
  • Metropolitan Council: Government Solar Garden Subscriber Collaborative
  • Department of Natural Resources, Parks and Trails Division: Self-Service Action Team
  • Department of Human Services and State Board of Investment: The Minnesota ABLE Plan
  • Department of Agriculture: MDA Food Business Licensing and Food Safety Wizard
  • Department of Administration: Capitol Complex Recycling Upgrades
  • Department of Administration: Combined Approach to Increasing Diversity and Inclusion
  • Department of Public Safety, Bureau of Criminal Apprehension: Electronic Search Warrant Application

Of the 10 overall winners, the top three will receive a professionally produced video to use to share the story of their work with others. They are:

Department of Employment and Economic Development, Vocational Rehabilitation Services: Way to Work Project

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency: Statewide Air Quality Index Forecasting

Metropolitan Council: Government Solar Garden Subscriber Collaborative

To learn more about the State Government Innovation Awards, as well as the individual award winners and their innovations, visit sgia.umn.edu.

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