Project Summary

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Developed a custom application to replace a paper process for excavation permitting

Project Problem

Fermilab owns a large area of land containing many residential homes, roadways, water features, administration buildings, laboratory buildings, facility management buildings, and other elements. A vast array of underground electric cables, gas pipes, water pipes, communication cable, fiber optic cables, and other utilities supply each facility with vital services. In addition, underground utility lines cross Fermilab’s property. For the safety of Fermilab staff and contractors, the protection of utility facilities from damage, and to avoid interruptions in utility service, Fermilab implemented an internal pre-excavation permitting program. The program was modeled after the State of Illinois’s Joint Utility Locating Information for Excavators (JULIE) program.

Fermilab’s JULIE permitting program required that all excavation projects apply for a permit prior to breaking ground. The system was implemented as a paper process. Each step was manually tracked on a printed permit form. Often the permit was lost or held up at a key workflow step. There was no digital record of the permit that could be tracked, reported on, or analyzed. This paper system created some risk of failure to properly permit an excavation and therefore exposed Fermilab to the dangers related to striking an underground utility during an excavation project.

Project Solution

Great Arc built an Adobe Flash-based web application to replace the entire paper process for excavation permitting. The new system is called the Electronic JULIE or E-JULIE system. The E-JULIE application features a secure login. Users enter their Active Directory credentials upon opening the application. Based on the user ID, the user’s assigned group is detected. Depending on the user’s group assignment in the application database, the user is limited to certain predefined application functions. Initially, all authenticated users can view or query existing permits. Following that step, only Task Managers and Construction Managers can create new E-JULIE excavation permit requests; only Utility Locator users may check off a utility type as having been located; and only the E-JULIE Coordinator may issue the permit as approved.

The application contains an automated notification component. Emails are automatically sent to the appropriate personnel when a new permit is created. Another email is sent when the permit changes state based on a user update. Emails are also sent to warn personnel when certain workflow steps have reached their expiration date.

A core component of the E-JULIE application is the Esri Flex Map control. The map control display’s an Esri map service containing relevant layers from the GIS Geodatabase. The map control contains custom controls for finding and zooming to nearby facilities. The user draws in the proposed excavation site by digitizing the boundary on the map control. The boundary is saved to the Geodatabase and is linked to the permit request via unique key value. This boundary can be examined by anyone viewing the permit record and is included on the report. Utility Locator personnel can use the excavation site boundary, overlaid with the utility feature classes, to obtain additional information about facility locations.

When an excavation request has been issued by the E-JULIE Coordinator, it is available to be printed using Crystal Reports. The paper copy is kept at the excavation site during the course of the project.



  • ArcGIS Server
  • Oracle
  • Adobe Flex
  • ESRI Flex API
  • Java EE/Glassfish
  • Windows Scheduled Task
  • Crystal Reports Plugin for Eclipse