Server AMS and PLL Bring Enterprise-Level Business Intelligence to Redlands

The City of Redlands, California, is a fairly small municipality serving a population of 70,000. We didn’t have an Information Technology (IT) Department until 2008 so work order solutions were paper-based. Each department had their own policies and procedures in place. Few investments were made in information technology, and it was never clearly brought into one arena. The newly formed IT Department had nine workers to cover all aspects of IT: troubleshooting, desktop repair, phones, server solutions, website, GIS, and database administration.

The GIS became the tool to provide information for the City Council and Commission, enabling decisions to be made based on spatial data. The Police Department’s daily operational philosophy was driven by understanding recent trends in crime. The Municipal Utilities & Engineering Department needed a way to track and reference infrastructure. The Quality of Life Department, which handles daily operational activities (e.g., parks, tree trimming, street and sidewalk maintenance), needed to track and evaluate their workload on a regular basis and communicate this information effectively.

Departments began realizing the value of sharing data with each other. Information began passing back and forth freely, facilitating better decision making and communication on many levels. Even so, we needed a better way to prioritize our resources, estimate inspection and maintenance costs, evaluate criticality, allocate labor and resources, and predict work demand for future development.

The IT Department was initially formed to help cut costs and improve performance. To this end, the department implemented an Esri Enterprise License Agreement (ELA) to reduce costs in our GIS deployment strategy. The GIS served many of our strategic and operational needs, yet we saw ways that some operational and tactical needs could be better served. We had server-level deployment and data warehousing, but we needed a work order solution that more fully leveraged this data. By implementing Cityworks, field crews no longer required printed maps and could improve on the existing data. All employees had access to the tools to better understand problem areas.

Cityworks made it possible for many new users to utilize and add value to the geographic data we maintain. We didn’t have to worry about new users editing a feature class directly. Cityworks protects data integrity by tying service requests and work orders directly to assets in the GIS and maintaining group- and user-level security for accessing data. Cityworks has also brought best practices, business intelligence, and improved workflows to our data collection. The GIS Division has limited resources, and it’s good to know it can move along with limited maintenance. In-house solutions require more development and maintenance, and frankly we didn’t have the time or resources.

As our budget diminished over the last couple of years, we have less staff and fewer resources in the field and in IT. As a result, our desktop replacement schedule has suffered. We found it less expensive to migrate to Server AMS because it changed where the computing power needs to be. We converted our existing desktop infrastructure into browser-based thin clients and deployed centrally through ArcGIS Server and Server AMS, eliminating desktop deployment times and user errors. Any networked desktops can now run the GIS and Cityworks.

The City’s biggest customer dissatisfaction was with our permitting process. Permitting requires multiple tasks that reach across departments, increasing the probability of customers falling through the cracks. Because Cityworks proved itself a forward-thinking method of recording and reporting work order metrics, we were relieved Azteca was developing Server PLL (Permitting, Licensing, and Land). The same customer service staff used separate systems for work orders and permitting, so we were glad to move forward to replace the permitting system with an all-in-one work order and permitting solution by combining Cityworks Server AMS and PLL.

For Redlands, the future depends on distributing the ability to collect and move important operational data efficiently between all levels of staff. Administrators need to know and communicate the numbers, supervisors need to know how their field staff is performing, and field staff need to be able to track aging infrastructure. We recently partnered with CitySourced to leverage citizen involvement for identifying problems in the field with smartphone apps, saving time taking customer calls and empowering citizens to be involved in a meaningful way.

Cityworks doesn’t just have a measurable return on investment (ROI), it provides our City with the framework to measure and clearly communicate ROIs. Before implementing Cityworks, there was no centralized method for collecting and analyzing service levels and work volumes. Now we can plan action instead of trying to maintain reactions. Cityworks brings best practice experience to the table for our smaller municipality and has given us the framework to support enterprise-level business intelligence in local government.

By Phil Mielke, GIS Supervisor, City of Redlands

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