WsDOT used ArcGIS Online, a cloud-based GIS authoring app from Esri, to create a portal that lets officials add data and general users access project information. Writing about their app in a Federal Highway Administration news- letter, WsDOT officials said the portal "allows local agencies to view and interact with data in a way that—until the development of the portal—required expensive GIS software and significant technical expertise."

Users of MicroStation, Bentley System's 2D and 3D design platform, found Bluebeam easy to use, says Marquis. "That was a selling point for us. [Other PDF] tools can be clunky and hidden—you have to dig down. They're cumbersome for users who aren't familiar with digital reviews."

Burns & McDonnell is using the product to minimize emails as well as paper. Take, for example, utility relocations on a $102-million Kansas City, Mo., streetcar project. "We were trying to come up with an internal solution for how to deal with 26 utilities at one time," says Jason Meyers, associate engineer with the firm. "What's the most recent set of plans? It's out there on the web. You just go to it. It saves 20 to 30 emails a day, at least."

Still, DOTs are only just beginning to embrace the possibilities. Marquis says KDOT has yet to adopt digital signatures. Iowa DOT's roll-outs get mixed, albeit appreciative, responses from field staff, says Blaesing-Thompson. "As a former boss once said, 'Big ships turn slowly.' "