The Oregon Department of Transportation is making changes large and small to keep its employees safe
SALEM – ODOT’s Information Systems Branch is hard at work to ensure ODOT employees can continue to serve Oregonians during the COVID-19 crisis. The agency went from an average of 200 people per day teleworking to more than 2,000.
The Engineering Application Support Team had many hurdles to overcome. It was a scramble to move from a handful of employees who were teleworking to accommodating nearly half of the agency — including 800 engineers who need access to specialized systems.
Although Engineering Application Support Team members are continually working to make sure all systems are available and customers can do what they need, they faced a situation beyond their imagination with COVID-19 – a nearly impossible scenario.
“We have one system that requires users to be within a half-mile of where the license servers are located,” says email Gary Holeman of ODOT’s Engineering Automation Section. “We only have a handful of users that live that close. Trying to make sure that people had access and who needed it was a real challenge.”
One thing that helped stabilize connectivity was looking at ways they could curb use of the actual network — what could be trimmed down and still allow a user to be operational.
“A lot of things happened in the background that helped improve connectivity – things customers wouldn’t notice,” Hedspeth says. “One example is disconnecting mapped drives that customers don’t use. It’s a small thing for each user, but it makes a big difference on the combined network overhead.”
In addition, innovation alive and well in Baker, ODOT’s Region 5.
“When we all walk in the front door in the morning, everyone is touching the same door handle,” says Allen Jensen, ODOT’s Baker/Richland Transportation Maintenance manager. In light of COVID-19 and efforts to reduce the potential to spread the virus, crew members jumped in with ideas to solve the dilemma.
To help, workers created a handle extension allows you to pull open the door with your arm and not touch the handle with your hands.
“Baker Maintenance is quite ingenious,” says ODOT Region 5 Manager Craig Sipp. He is very pleased with the crew and their initiative in creating this tool in their shop.
The innovation is inspiring others, and he’s been taking calls from all across the agency wanting to know how they can craft a similar setup.