Making Cities Work

Like many municipalities across the United States, the city of Independence, Mo., Water Pollution Control (WPC) Department is faced with managing aging stormwater and sanitary sewer infrastructure networks. Replacing infrastructure with new assets is not fiscally or operationally feasible, so city officials turned to Burns & McDonnell for help implementing Cityworks, an asset management platform designed by Azteca Systems Inc., to help focus maintenance and capital spending on priority assets and areas.

The platform, integrated with Esri’s ArcGIS geographic information system (GIS), combines the geospatial aspects of infrastructure assets with their maintenance, repair and failure histories. The result is a database of information on everything from sanitary sewer networks to transportation networks and facilities that maintenance workers, supervisors and city officials can access for planning and decision making.

“Since much of the nation’s infrastructure needs to be replaced, there’s a heightened awareness to proactively manage the entire asset lifecycle and lifetime performance and maintenance information,” says Jim Trimble, Burns & McDonnell GIS section manager and Cityworks consultant for the city of Independence. “Through Cityworks implementations, we are providing a powerful tool that our clients can use to leverage information to make informed decisions about whether to repair, renew, replace or allow assets to run to failure.”

Changing the Approach

The most common approach to asset management has been reactive. When something breaks or malfunctions, a repair crew is dispatched to make repairs. Cityworks enables asset managers to shift to a more proactive paradigm, actively managing the entire asset lifecycle to maximize the
effectiveness of maintenance and capital investments.

In the five years the city of Independence has used Cityworks, it discovered another benefit of the program — customer service. Because all information related to asset management — performance history, customer call history, maintenance history, repair schedules, materials used and future plans — is stored in one system, call takers can respond to citizen inquiries immediately.

“Cityworks has allowed Water Pollution Control to improve our business processes as the demands progress,” says Emily Brazeal, administrative specialist for WPC. “We have the flexibility to custom create reports for various stakeholder entities allowing us to satisfy all reporting requirements. Cityworks is used to more efficiently respond to citizen requests and spatially chart, administer and organize our preventive maintenance activities as well as to more efficiently focus on critical maintenance needs.”

Maximizing the Advantages

Like all technology, Cityworks continually evolves. Most cities and organizations don’t have excess staff to research how new functionality can support additional workflows or solve problems. That’s where a Cityworks consultant like Burns & McDonnell can come in handy.

“After we meet with our clients to understand their business, we work to implement Cityworks to support associated workflows and processes,” Trimble says. “Successful implementations are our goal, and our clients are usually self-sufficient after implementation. However, we often maintain close relationships with clients to help with upgrades, support additional business processes or solve a new problem.”

That support was particularly helpful when Independence expanded its Cityworks implementation to include a mobile solution, outfitting field staff with laptops in their maintenance trucks. With that mobility, field staff are better equipped with information, they can capture data more quickly and accurately, and managers can better organize maintenance schedules.

“It makes cities a lot smarter in what they do, from understanding problem areas and chronic issues to taking the right equipment to the field,” Trimble adds. “It makes them much more efficient executing their core business.”

via Burns and McDonnel Insights

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