On the latest episode of our new podcast Map Talk, host Allison Williams sits down with two of Mapcom’s solutions developers to chat about our latest product offering, Pinpoint811. Ben Zepp and Greer Goodman tell us about their involvement with developing Pinpoint811, share some of their favorite features and functionality, and how they’re staying sane during the COVID-19 quarantine.
You can listen or read a copy of the transcript below!
Allison Williams: First of all, thank you guys so much for joining me today! We’re going to have you guys go ahead and introduce yourselves and what your role is on the Pinpoint team.
Ben Zepp: My name is Ben Zepp. I am a software developer for the Pinpoint team.
Greer Goodman: I’m Greer Goodman and I’m also a software developer on the Pinpoint team.
AW: I figured I’d add a fun little question here since we are all currently quarantined and working remotely. What has been your way to kind of curb the quarantine craziness at home?
BZ: I’m actually a pretty big introvert, so the quarantine has been mostly pretty normal for me with the exception of we don’t get to go into the office anymore. So I miss out on a little bit of social time there. Most of my time spent outside of work now is playing games or watching different forms of television with my wife. About a month ago, we got a new puppy. Her name is Figg. She’s a Newfoundland. She’s a real treat lots of lots of work. A lot of time spent on short walks and a little bit less sleep. But overall, I’ve been really blessed and having a good time.
GG: Yeah, I think mostly just video games. I’ve actually kind of been getting away from that because I can only do it for so long and I just can’t anymore. It’s getting bad. So actually, I just started learning piano. So hopefully that’s going to help more constructive outlet than just sitting around and “quara-eating.”
AW: What has been your favorite part about working on Pinpoint so far?
BZ: I’d have to say my favorite part is definitely getting to learn about and take advantage of a lot of different new technologies in the software space. I won’t get into a lot of the specifics, but of the cloud infrastructure or micro-services, a lot of the buzzwords going on, we’re actually getting to like, like, utilize those. That’s been really exciting.
GG: I think mine’s probably working on a working on a team that feels like a team. Just cohesion among the whole organization is really good. And to Ben’s point, also using new technology, it’s really just up to snuff stuff. We’re not using older technology. We’re using cloud-based infrastructure and angular and stuff like that. So the new the new stuff is really good to work on in a brand new project.
AW: Pinpoint kind of hangs its hat on being able to quantify, manage, and complete requests all within the context of your network maps. So, from working with Pinpoint over the last few months, what is kind of your favorite functionality or feature that it provides to those who end up using it?
BZ: This is actually a really difficult question to answer because I think there’s a lot of effort that goes into the processing of these requests on the back end that are not really features seen from the front end. I would have to say probably my top thing about the system is that you kind of get away from using these email inboxes to manage your locate requests. Before you’re getting 100-1000 of these a day, then having an inbox or 10 inboxes or however large your influences across different providers. It’s just difficult, I think to manage that all through emails, maybe you come up with some sort of system like, Oh, well, I’ve read this one, but this one’s unread. So it hasn’t been managed, right? I haven’t replied to it myself, saying that I’ve done it. It’s kind of a weird system.
So what we’ve done is we’ve ingested those emails, just taking the really important bits and come up with a way to display them over top of Google Maps. Then you just kind of have sort of like this easy, manageable task list of locate requests that you can just easily go through, assign it to another employee, or check off when you’ve completed that request.
AW: Are there any kind of like icons, or how does that denote in the system? How do you know what’s being worked on when? Is there a key for all that or how does it look to those using it?
BZ: So there’s kind of this idea of a request being either open or closed. An open request, which is signified by just a little checkbox or An open request would represent locate requests that you haven’t yet completed your obligations to fulfill that request. So that varies based on different providers or different state regulations. It might mean that you haven’t sent positive response yet or you haven’t gone out and marked, set up a meeting, or whatever your responsibility is there is not complete. Then when a locate request is closed, that would mean that you’ve fulfilled those obligations to your provider.
AW: Greer, do you have something that is kind of your favorite functionality or feature that Pinpoint gives to those who are using it?
GG: I think I’m on the same page as Ben, with being on the more technical side, we see a lot of the back end stuff but, I like the fact that it’s going to centralize everything for our clients and they’re going to be able to see all of the providers that they need to take care of requests for. It’s going to make it all easy, ideally, for the end user to see everything they need to do, everything they need to take care of. Like Ben was saying, the requests are going to be right there on the left, the information about the locate request is going to be right there on the right, everything’s just going to be in one succinct place.
I feel like Ben summed it up well on how it’s going to work, so I’m just going to piggyback off his answer.
AW: I think it’ll give users who are in it and working with it, the ability to gain some efficiencies so they’re not having to scramble, and things aren’t going to be in different places to compile all together.
Pinpoint also utilizes a cloud-based functionality. Can you guys go into a little bit of that and how that works for those who may not know a ton about Pinpoint?
BZ: Sure, Mapcom is currently in the position that a lot of our software currently is hosted [on-prem by the client] and there are a lot of challenges with that. If we want to make a change, an update, or add a feature that is something that we go to each client and deploy, or we have them install some variation of that. The ability to have control over that, where it’s hosted and to make changes as necessary all on our own, fosters this idea of software as a service.
AW: Correct me if I’m wrong, because I am not technical in the slightest that the cloud functionality also makes it easier accessibility wise for those using Pinpoint because they’ll be able to access it while they’re out servicing things, addressing locates request, and things like that, correct?
BZ: Yes, anywhere they have an internet connection that can reach Microsoft Azure Cloud is where they’ll have access.
AW: Is there anything else that you guys would like to add? Anything you want to share about Pinpoint?
GG: This has been a hugely beneficial experience to be on and like I said at the beginning, working on the team that feels like a team, working with all this new stuff, it just feels really good to be part of something that’s going to be so impactful in the industry and the organization of Mapcom. I know since the beginning of the year, we’ve made leaps and bounds on this and it feels really cool at this point to see it coming to fruition would be the right word,
BZ: To piggyback off that a little bit, I absolutely agree with Greer. It’s been an absolute joy just to be on this team and to be working on this product. We have gotten to this point where we’re actually starting to have some beta clients come on and I think we’re all just really excited to be getting significant feedback and actually having people using the system and it enhancing their jobs. Just getting to see that I think will be awesome.
AW: Thank you guys so much for joining me and for talking a little about Pinpoint! We will talk to you guys soon.
GG: Thanks Allison!
BZ: Thanks for having us.