Several events prompted the City to implement a new asset management system. The Human Resources Department was having difficulties with liability cases stemming from personal and property damage caused by trees. The paper work order system made it impossible to retrieve the documentation needed to prove the damage was caused by an act of nature rather than negligence on the City’s part.
Additionally, traffic operations staff was struggling to meet the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) deadline of January 2012, which required the City to evaluate current retroreflectivity levels and create a strategy for bringing non-compliant assets up to code. Furthermore, the City’s operation crews and managers were frustrated with the current paper system because it was a difficult and time-consuming way to organize and manage data. They were eager to move to a system that would give them enhanced capabilities in the field, retain asset history, and efficiently organize asset and maintenance data.
Cupertino chose Cityworks Desktop because it is a streamlined system requiring no interface (integration or synchronization) between Cityworks and the GIS where the GIS is the only common asset database utilized. Having experience with non-GIS-centric systems and being aware of the complications involved when two systems won’t communicate with each other, choosing a GIS-centric approach was an easy choice for the City to make. It was also important to employ one solution that would work with all assets and allow everyone to access the same system and view the same data. The City also foresaw Cityworks making the Public Works Design and Operations Divisions more effective by assisting in setting work priorities, concentrating work in specific geographic locations, and planning preventive maintenance through cyclical work orders.
Overall, Cityworks was anticipated to be an efficient timesaver for staff, a comprehensive tracking tool for supervisors, and a necessary and easy-to-use reporting tool for management.
Cupertino’s Cityworks implementation was completed in phases, beginning with streetlights, traffic control, and trees in the first fiscal year (2009-2010). Since the GIS staff is limited to one GIS Coordinator, the initial step was to hire Cityworks business partner, Quartic Solutions, to design the data models, configure the systems and hardware, and handle implementation and training. The City also chose to implement iWater’s infraMap, an easy-to-use mobile mapping environment that integrates nicely with the Cityworks work order system.
Cupertino purchased the GIS streetlight inventory from the City’s power company. The inventory was converted to the data model structure, then infraMap was used to assess the data received from the energy company, allowing the City to report discrepancies discovered in the field.
Because the tree inventory was such a complicated task and lacked funding for inventory collection at the time, the City decided to deploy Cityworks in the field, adding new assets as work orders were created. Finally, the traffic control inventories were collected in five months using four interns, Google street view, and field verification. Each group is currently collecting both asset and attribute data in the field, as well as creating and retrieving work orders for the assets they maintain.
Phase two, fiscal year 2010-2011, consisted of the storm drain system and fleet maintenance. The City already had inventories for both systems, but both needed new data models. Again with Quartic’s support, the City developed new data models with input from all involved parties, converted the data, deployed the solution, and trained personnel on Cityworks and infraMap.
From now on, the storm drain crew will be creating work orders in the field and making updates to the storm drain features via redlining in infraMap. Fleet is up and running, creating work orders and cyclical preventive maintenance work orders in the shop.
Cityworks has greatly enhanced Cupertino’s workflow and produced many tangible results. The City has saved a great deal of time using Cityworks because the staff can now quickly retrieve information through the system, rather than manually thumbing through stacks of paperwork. Customer service efficiency has improved dramatically because tasks don’t fall through the cracks anymore as details are documented in the database and problems remain open until they are addressed.
Furthermore, customer satisfaction levels have also increased as callers are surprised and impressed when Cupertino staff members follow up with specific details tracked in Cityworks once a problem has been resolved. In addition, Cityworks allows Cupertino to monitor problems and solutions more closely, allowing administrative staff members to answer questions over the phone that previously required a visit from a field worker. The City is able to forecast workloads more accurately and identify repeated problems and repetitive complaints, allowing them to pinpoint areas of the City that require more attention.
Cityworks has significantly reduced the amount of paper used by the City, while facilitating more efficient access to information. In addition, the City no longer needs to rely on staff memory. As the City continues to change and long-serving maintenance personnel retire, it will be impossible for staff to remember everything. Fortunately, Cityworks now provides all the important detail history that eluded staff in the past. All these factors have allowed the Public Works Department to shift to a more proactive maintenance cycle, allowing the City to be more productive and efficient.
The phased implementation has created a closed-loop system. Staff trained in the first phase are now experts and can assist newly trained staff when questions arise. In the field, Operations staff can submit work orders to other departments if they notice a tree is down or a light is out. Additionally, any discrepancies in the GIS data, such as a road name or address, are reported and corrected, allowing the City to make the system even more efficient.
The Operations staff has come to thoroughly appreciate Cityworks and utilizes all the features it offers. They feel empowered with the ability to proactively manage their assets, a nearly insurmountable challenge in the past because of the intrinsic dysfunction of an antiquated paper system.
Funding has been secured to begin phase three of Cupertino’s asset management plan (scheduled for fiscal year 2011-2012), which will include sidewalks, curbs, and gutters. As the asset management system continues to grow, the GIS data will need ongoing maintenance and the City will most likely find even more uses for Cityworks in the future.
By Teri Gerhardt- GIS Coordinator, City of Cupertino, California