If your commute takes you mostly around Thurston County, you may not often think much about the roads you travel to reach a destination. Head north on I-5 and you will likely hit some traffic, but for the majority of our adventures, the journey is straightforward and without incident. That is just how Josh Hudson, Web/Mobile Application Developer Lead for the Washington State Department of Transportation (DOT), would like it. As a hardworking, dedicated state employee, Josh is one of many people at the DOT that works to ensure the roads and your route are as smooth as possible.
Josh is in charge of a small team that develops web and mobile applications for the DOT’s Maintenance Operations Division and Environmental groups. While not on the roads or highways around the Evergreen State, his work is an integral part of our daily commute and the safety of our roads.
Josh and his team have managed many projects over the past 10 years, but the work that he is most proud of is the Highway Activity Tracking System (HATS), which saves both time and money for Washington State and the DOT. HATS directly impacts the workflow of the DOT’s Maintenance Operations Division. Covering more than 20,000 miles, ten major mountain passes, over 1,000 traffic signals, and nearly 50 rest areas, DOT highway maintenance is on the frontline for your commute.
“HATS is an internal web and mobile (iPad) application that is used by our maintenance staff to help document the daily work of maintaining our state highways,” explained Josh. “One of the cool features of HATS is that Maintenance Operations admins can create the data collection screens they want using an editor my team developed. These screens are then dynamically created on the fly both on the web as well as the iPads.”
Josh continues, “One of the cool examples of the work that HATS allows is that the Snow and Ice Management team can now send out data from DOT vehicles during the winter. Information about the vehicle, driver, equipment, materials, routes and conditions can quickly be sent back to headquarters, giving real time information, directly leading to the safety of Washington State residents traveling on the highways year round.”
This technology also means that DOT Maintenance Operations staff can create and change what data they want to collect on the spot, reducing overhead as well as travel time and cost. It also gets iPads into the hands of workers, helping streamline data collection by those who are actually doing the work. The efficiency created by HATS results in more accurate and timely information that can be used to help set Maintenance Operations policy and schedules. Therefore, we can all safely get to where we are going and DOT employees can be even more proficient and speedy at their jobs.
“The DOT has some amazing folks that work here, especially those in the Maintenance Operations division,” he says. “The employees that work every single day, usually in or around traffic, to make sure our roads are safe and maintained deserve more recognition.”
Josh is similar to many state employees you’ll meet around Thurston County, humbly discussing his role, while celebrating the efforts of his coworkers. However, all humility aside, he is incredibly passionate about his job as a state employee and has enjoyed his decade of service to Washington.
For Josh, going to work means helping every Washington driver arrive at their destination a little smoother. He considers himself lucky to work with his colleagues. “I enjoy going to work every day,” Josh said. “I get to work on fun and interesting projects, and I work with some great people.”
Josh is proud of the work he does for the DOT, not just for the enjoyment of his position, but because it helps the entire department to be run more efficiently. Raised in rural Pacific County, he understands the value of hard work and enjoys making sure that Washington’s tax dollars are spent as wisely and efficiently as possible.
When Josh is done working for the day, he becomes engrossed with his family, giving them his attention and going on adventures around the region. For Josh and his family, the Olympia area is perfect. Every day when he gets home from work, he get to spend the evenings and weekends with his wife and two boys, exploring local parks or Josh’s favorite place, the Olympic Peninsula. Each year, Josh and his family drive out on DOT repaired and maintained roads out to Ruby Beach in the Olympic National Park. There, along the breaking waves of the Pacific, he and his family enjoy the gems of natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest. For Josh, this is the perfect place to unwind for a non-work day and he considers it to be a magical and relaxing place to spending with family.
Josh also finds time to hike and explore the National Parks of Washington State, covering epic routes like the Wonderland Trail at Mount Rainier and up to Blue Glacier on Mount Olympus in Olympic National Park. He isn’t always out exploring the wilderness though. One of his favorite local events for his family is the Thurston County Fair. The Hudson family consider this event in the Olympia area perfect for a family afternoon outing, looking forward to it every August.
Even after a long and stressful week of work, getting to spend time with his family helps Josh unwind, which reminds him of something very important he wanted to mention.
“If you see someone wearing orange and working out on the highway, please slow down and be careful while driving around them,” Josh said. “Help make sure that all DOT workers get home to their families every night, just like I get to.”
This article is one of an occasional series about the contributions of public employees to our community. The series is sponsored by WSECU.