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Title:
INTERACTIVE APPROVAL SYSTEM FOR INDUSTRIAL CROSSINGS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/049385
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A computerized system for automated crossing approval request includes an interactive system which may use mobile and web technologies. The system allows a requestor user to create an electronically generated crossing request using an automated form using drop down menus and search tabs. The user may then attach a map, sketch or survey plan to indicate the area for the crossing. Once the requesting user has submitted the request electronically, it will appear in a stakeholder user's inbox and may be reviewed or further distributed.

Inventors:
EDWARDS JUSTIN (CA)
EDWARDS JESSE (CA)
EDWARDS JOEL (CA)
Application Number:
PCT/CA2016/000239
Publication Date:
March 30, 2017
Filing Date:
September 22, 2016
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
CROSSINGSCLOUD INC (CA)
International Classes:
G06Q10/00
Domestic Patent References:
WO2008124627A12008-10-16
Foreign References:
US7051036B22006-05-23
US20030023597A12003-01-30
US20090177517A12009-07-09
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BURRI, Stephen R. (43 Machleary StreetNanaimo, British Columbia V9R 2G3, CA)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A method for operating a computerized industrial crossings request approval system comprising the steps of:

a. providing an industrial crossings request approval system application including one or more user computer devices and at least one computer server operatively coupled to a global computer network, the computer server having access to at least one crossings request memory source, and operative to communicate with the user computer devices and exchange crossings request information over the global computer network in a secure manner, each of the user computer devices operating a software tool allowing a user to view and modify at least certain of the crossings request data;

b. providing a crossings request project database on the crossings request memory source, the crossings request project having a plurality of crossing request records; c. linking a crossings request project with a requestor user;

d. logging into the crossings request approval system using the software tool on a first one of the user computer devices by a requestor user;

e. entering one or more data inputs for submission to the crossings request project record by the requestor user using the software tool on the first one of the user computer devices;

f. reviewing and approving the crossings request project record;

g. sending a web link to the crossings request project record to a stakeholder user by email transmission;

h. accessing the crossings request approval system using the software tool on a second one of the user computer devices by a stakeholder user;

i. reviewing the crossings request project record by the stakeholder user; j. entering a granting or denying of approval input for the crossings request project record by the stakeholder user.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein the one or more user computer devices are selected from the group comprising desktop computers, laptop computers, tablets, and mobile devices.

3. The method of claim 1 , wherein the one or more data inputs is selected from the group of data inputs comprising crossing geographical location, stakeholder information, crossing purpose, crossing distance, crossing identification information, construction plans, file reference information, map, sketch, and survey plan.

4. A method for operating a computerized industrial crossings request approval system comprising the steps of:

a. logging in to a networked computer web application account;

b. clicking on a displayed button to create a new electronic crossing request project file;

c. uploading a desired shapefile data file into the request project file;

d. uploading a construction plan data file into the request project file;

e. entering project name, project type, and other project information data into request project file;

f. reviewing request project file;

g. selecting email addresses of stakeholders to whom the request project file will be sent electronically;

h. arranging electronic payment of crossing request fee; and

i. approving crossing request project file and forwarding it to one or more stakeholders for approval.

5. The method of claim 4, wherein the one or more user computer devices are selected from the group comprising desktop computers, laptop computers, tablets, and mobile devices.

6. The method of claim 4, wherein the one or more data inputs is selected from the group of data inputs comprising crossing geographical location, stakeholder information, crossing purpose, crossing distance, crossing identification information, construction plans, file reference information, map, sketch, and survey plan.

7. A system for industrial crossings request approval comprising one or more user computer devices and at least one computer server operatively coupled to a global computer network, the computer server having access to at least one crossings request memory source, and operative to communicate with the user computer devices and exchange crossings request information over the global computer network in a secure manner, certain of the user computer devices operating a software tool allowing a requestor user to login to the system to view and modify at least certain of the crossings request data to create a crossings request file; and other of the user computer devices operating the software tool to allow a stakeholder user to view and approve a crossings request file without logging in.

8. The system of claim 7, wherein the one or more user computer devices are selected from the group comprising desktop computers, laptop computers, tablets, and mobile devices.

9. The system of claim 7, wherein creation, editing, approval, distribution, and archiving of all crossing request files is performed using a single website interface.

Description:
TITLE OF THE INVENTION

Interactive Approval System for Industrial Crossings

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to the industrial infrastructure services. In particular, the present invention relates to an automated system for crossing approvals for safe and efficient infrastructure development.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

In an industrial context, when a utility, resource or other company wants to install infrastructure which will run across existing infrastructure owned by another company, the requesting company must obtain written consent to each crossing in the form of a crossing agreement. Examples of the types of crossings which would require consent include electrical power transmission lines crossing highways, oil or gas pipelines crossing highways or watercourses, and transmission lines crossing over one another. The system of the present invention may be used for projects of all sizes, in any industry which develops infrastructure.

At present, the process involved in obtaining the required consents for a project is very time- consuming and cumbersome. A requesting company generally will retain a land services company to manage acquisition of right-of-way and crossing consent requests. The land services company then obtains from a survey company a survey plan which displays details of the location of the crossing. The land services company then prepares a request letter seeking consent for the crossing from the company whose infrastructure is to be crossed.

The company from whom the consent has been requested must then have one or more supervisors, engineers, or field representatives review the request and grant or deny the request with or without conditions. If the request is approved, a Crossing Agreement must be executed by the two companies or their agents. Only once the Crossing Agreement is fully executed can the requestor proceed with the crossing construction. This prior art process for obtaining crossing consents often requires 4 or more individuals to be involved, and may take up to 6 weeks to be completed, causing undesirable delays and incurring added costs.

It would be desirable to automate the crossing consent process to reduce costs and avoid time delays in a wide variety of industries including the oil and gas industry. Such an automated system could also be used in other areas such as power utilities, municipal infrastructure projects, and transportation infrastructure.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS A detailed description of the preferred embodiments of the invention is provided by way of example only and with reference to the following drawings, in which:

Fig. 1 is a schematic of a prior art crossings request approval work flow;

Fig. 2 is a schematic of the work flow of a crossings request approval of the present invention;

Fig. 3 depicts the web application registered user interface for creating an eCrossing project; and Fig. 4 depicts the web application guest user interface for reviewing an eCrossing project.

In the drawings, several embodiments of the invention are illustrated by way of example. It is to be expressly understood that the description and drawings are only for the purpose of illustration and as an aid to understanding, and are not intended as a definition of the limits of the invention.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

There is provided a system for industrial crossings request approval comprising one or more user computer devices and at least one computer server operatively coupled to a global computer network, the computer server having access to at least one crossings request memory source, and operative to communicate with the user computer devices and exchange crossings request information over the global computer network in a secure manner, certain of the user computer devices operating a software tool allowing a requestor user to view and modify at least certain of the crossings request data; and other of the user computer devices operating the software tool to allow a stakeholder user to view and approve a crossings request.

There is further provided a method for operating a computerized industrial crossings request approval system comprising the steps of providing an industrial crossings request approval system application including one or more user computer devices and at least one computer server operatively coupled to a global computer network, the computer server having access to at least one crossings request memory source, and operative to communicate with the user computer devices and exchange crossings request information over the global computer network in a secure manner, each of the user computer devices operating a software tool allowing a user to view and modify at least certain of the crossings request data; providing a crossings request project database on the crossings request memory source, the crossings request project having a plurality of crossing request records; linking a crossings request project with a requestor user; logging into the crossings request approval system using the software tool on a first one of the user computer devices by a requestor user; entering one or more data inputs for submission to the crossings request project record by the requestor user using the software tool on the first one of the user computer devices; reviewing and approving the crossings request project record; sending a web link to the crossings request project record to a stakeholder user by email transmission; logging into the crossmgs request approval system using the software tool on a second one of the user computer devices by a stakeholder user; reviewing the crossings request project record by the stakeholder user; and entering a granting or denying of approval input for the crossings request project record by the stakeholder user.

There is further provided a method for operating a computerized industrial crossings request approval system comprising the steps of logging in to a networked computer web application account; clicking on a displayed button to create a new electronic crossing request project file; uploading a desired shapefile data file into the request project file; uploading a construction plan data file into the request project file; entering project name, project type, and other project information data into request project file; reviewing request project file; selecting email addresses of stakeholders to whom the request project file will be sent electronically; arranging electronic payment of crossing request fee; and approving crossing request project file and forwarding it to one or more stakeholders for approval. The user computer devices may be desktop computers, laptop computers, tablets, and mobile phones.

The data inputs may be crossing geographical location, stakeholder information, crossing purpose, crossing distance, crossing identification information, construction plans, file reference information, map, sketch, and survey plan.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

There is provided an easy to use computerized system to improve the process of crossing approvals ("Crossings Cloud"). The present invention comprises an interactive system which may use mobile and web technologies to simplify the crossing approval process. The present invention may be run on a well-known, readily available computer system or mobile device that a user likely already has use of, such as a tablet computer or a cellular phone.

The Crossings Cloud system of the present invention provides for an electronically generated crossing request ("eCrossing"). Rather than complete a word processing document such as Word to make a crossing request, the system allows a user to populate an automated form using drop down menus and search tabs. The user may then attach a map, sketch or survey plan to indicate the area for the crossing. As soon as the requesting user has submitted the request electronically, it will appear in the receiver's inbox and may be reviewed or distributed.

In operation, a user may initiate a new eCrossing request according to the following process: 1. Login to CrossingsCloud account.

2. Click Create New eCrossings Project in sidebar.

3. Click Upload Shapefile.

4. Browse and select desired Shapefile.

5. After selecting, Shapefile will automatically populate all eCrossings information in table.

6. Click Upload Construction Plan.

7. Browse and select desired construction plan.

8. Input project information such as project name, project type, file reference, AFE.

9. Audit each eCrossing individually. 10. Edit eCrossings by clicking on the row requiring revision, before editing the text field above and clicking the Update button when complete.

11. Click Proceed to Final Review.

12. Review Project Information

13. Audit eCrossing information in table.

14. Under Select or Enter Stakeholder Email click on each box and select an email from the list displayed. If no email is displayed, the email address may be entered manually.

15. Clink on Payment to enter credit card information or select stored payment information.

16. Once all information and email addresses have been confirmed, click check box confirming terms and conditions, then Accept & Submit.

17. Once submitted, a Success confirmation page will be displayed.

18. Click to Print Project Summary for a PDF version of all eCrossings requested.

In a preferred embodiment, shapefile data format as used in geographical information system software is used in a novel shapefile format consistent with known systems used by land surveyors and other professionals. The quantity of data required to be entered is significantly less than in prior art crossing request processes. Whereas prior art requests would require 15 to 30 minutes per request, the present system permits processing of thousands of requests per second. In addition, the eCrossing requests may be auto-generated due to the use of shapefile uploads.

The Crossings Cloud will categorize eCrossings from requestors and approvers within a user's inbox. All eCrossings will display real time status for all users to view, including, for example, sent, received, pending field approval, rejected, or approved.

The Crossings Cloud will permit storage of user information to increase the speed and ease of obtaining crossing consents. Field approvals will also be easier as field approvers will have direct access to the eCrossing through mobile or on-site technologies without having to review, print, sign and return a paper document. Requests and approvals can be communicated using an instant messenger feature to facilitate communication and resolve questions and disputes quickly. Notifications and alerts will also be used to maintain project timelines.

Where a Crossings Cloud user seeks consent from a non-user, the system will invite the non-user through a link to learn how Crossings Cloud works through a video tutorial or textual information, and to sign up at no cost to enable use of the system. Even if a stakeholder has not registered, the stakeholder can receive a notification by email, click on a link, and be brought into the application as a guest where they would have full functionality for single use until that particular project is approved and completed. As the majority of interactions will be between registered users and unregistered non-users, this feature permits an improved registered user experience unhindered by the unwillingness of a stakeholder to buy a license and use the application. If an unregistered party wishes to sign up, they may register without charge from the guest view interface or from a website.

According one embodiment, a single-use version of the CrossingsCloud web application interface "entitled "Guest View| may be accessed from a link in an email sent to a Stakeholder from a User of CrossingsCloud who has created a new project. This version of the app requires no registration, login or payment It is merely a conduit to allow non-users the functionality to handle the interaction between themselves and the Requestor (Requesting User) on a case by case basis. Features of Guest View include document exchange, live chat between Requestor and Stakeholder, add conditions functionality and single-click Approve or Decline of an eCrossing.

The process for use of Guest View is as follows:

1. Receive email from CrossingsCloud, on behalf of the Requestor informing the Stakeholder of receipt of an eCrossing request for a specific project that includes a specified number of eCrossings.

2. Click on a link for more details if desired.

3. Click on a link to be rerouted to Guest View.

4. Review eCrossing Details by clicking on arrow left of each one to expand the information.

5. Click Construction Map button to download a PDF of the Construction Map or Survey Plan.

6. Click Documents tab to view additional documents, forms or map views that may have been added by the Requestor.

7. Click on Let' s Discuss text box to open up dialogue with Requestor.

8. Click Approve or Decline to complete project. If Approved, Stakeholder will be prompted to add an expiration date that the approval or agreement is valid for. If Declined, Stakeholder must provide a reason for declining. The Stakeholder may also add construction conditions before or after approval. These conditions will then be included in a Final Line List Report to ensure construction crews do not overlook the conditions.

The system of the present invention will also allow for generation of useful user analytics data such as budget data, savings, rejection percentages and reasons, average approval times, and other information. The Crossing Cloud will also provide access to eCrossing archives.

The system wiil simplify the fee structure for crossing consents by removing license fees. According to a preferred embodiment, a fee per crossing would be assessed only to the eCrossing requestor. According to one embodiment, registration, incoming and outgoing project management, approvals, reporting, and user and company management may all be without fee.

As well as cost savings, paper savings, and time savings, other benefits may include reduced workforce requirements, easier payment methods, real time status checks, and wide applicability. Overall project efficiency and safety will be greatly enhanced.

All eCrossing requests, reviews and approvals are handled through the same easy to use interface accessible on a desktop, laptop, or mobile device locally or remotely. Each type of user may be granted differing levels of access to the system which may be controlled through access codes specific to their roles as requestors, administrators, and/or reviewers.

A registered user may manage projects according to the following process:

1. Login to CrossingsCloud.

2. Click on Dashboard on left side bar then click User Outgoing.

3. Locate desired project to be edited within User Outgoing and click Edit on the right side of that project.

4. When the Edit view opens, user may manage all interactions with the Stakeholders for the project.

5. All eCrossings are grouped by Stakeholder on the left hand side.

6. Click on the stakeholder to access the eCrossings, Documents, Last Activity and

Conditions tabs. 7. Under eCrossings user may view the eCrossing details for each eCrossing for that Stakeholder.

8. Under Documents user may view any documents user or the Stakeholder has uploaded.

9. Under Last Activity user may see a self-populated chronology of all action that has happened between user and that Stakeholder. Each entry is stamped with the User or Non-User, date and time of action and what that action was such as Project Created, Project Viewed, Document Uploaded, Project Approved, Project Declined.

10. Under Conditions user may view any conditions added by that Stakeholder. User can also add or delete any conditions. These conditions show up on the Final Line List Report.

11. User may assign the project to a team member by clicking Assign and clicking on the picture of the team member to assign the project to. They will automatically see the project in their User Incoming/Outgoing folder.

12. There is a Completion Bar under the project information that tracks the status of the project. Each time a Stakeholder approves their eCrossings, the Completed Bar will display the respective percentage of the project completed. Once all necessary agreements or documents are executed and all approvals have been obtained, the Completion Bar will display 100%.

13. Once Completion Bar displays 100%ยป, user may complete the project by clicking Finalize - Final Package, which will organize all information that has been added by user and the stakeholders in the Final Line List. The application will then create a compressed zip file PDF of the Final Line List with all of the other documents in that project into one electronic file.

The CrossingsCloud application provides a series of computer folders for managing projects. A Company Incoming folder is where all eCrossings from other companies can be viewed and managed. This folder will indicate which user has created an eCrossing and to which users the eCrossing has been assigned to. For further action, user may click View to further manage each project individually (i.e. Assign project, approve, decline, etc.). A User Incoming folder will display a project assigned to that user when a project in Company Incoming has been assigned to that user. User may manage the project from this folder by clicking View on the right side of that project.

A Company Outgoing folder is where all outgoing eCrossings for the user's organization are displayed. User may Click Edit to take further action on a particular project (i.e. assign project, manage interactions with stakeholders).

A User Outgoing folder will display a new eCrossing Project created by that user, or a project in Company Outgoing assigned to that user. User may manage the project from this folder by clicking Edit on the right side of that project. As many possible embodiments may be made of the invention without departing from the scope of the claims, it is to be understood that all matter herein set forth or shown in the accompanying drawings is to be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense.

It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that other variations of the preferred embodiment may also be practiced without departing from the scope of the invention.