A Tale of Two Cities: Butler, IN & Phildephia, PA

Butler, Indiana

Butler is located in rural northeast Indiana and has a population of about 2,700. Butler’s focus is on daily recurring maintenance and what this costs the city—this applies to every asset in the city, from water and wastewater infrastructure, to computers and servers. Butler GIS/IT coordinator, Jim Otis, said “We are a small city surrounded by farmland. Communities around us are incredulous when they learn we’re using GIS or computerized maintenance management. One of the foremost reasons a city our size can do something like this is because we have forward-thinking leadership that is supportive of using this type of technology for asset management.”

Regarding the daily use of Cityworks, Otis said “Pretty much anything the guys do, they create work orders for in Cityworks. This allows us to then pull reports, which tell us the cost for all infrastructure and activities.”

The information pulled from Cityworks enables the city to make decisions on how to handle daily maintenance activities. For example, using work order information and costs in Cityworks, they were able to calculate the overall cost of snow removal. Based off the review, the city was able to easily determine that it was more cost effective to have the city crew plow certain areas, rather than hire contractors to handle the services. Furthermore, by allowing city officials to review annual maintenance expenditures, Cityworks facilitates better annual budget planning.

The use of Cityworks in Butler also goes beyond the main office. Over time, the city’s mobile usage has moved from Data Pump, to VPN and remote desktop access via air cards, to Cityworks Server with Verizon air cards. The future plans include potentially moving to iPads and Cityworks Mobile, but since the city GIS/IT/Cityworks department is a one-man operation, the changes and updates take time.

“Our leadership is still learning how to best utilize the information Cityworks and our GIS provide,” Otis said. “But we are making progress—and definitely seeing benefits from Cityworks.”

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

At the other end of the spectrum is the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. With a population of 1.5 million, Philadelphia is also concerned with daily maintenance and the cost of activities. However, on top of those concerns, the city also has to deal with coordinating multiple departments and maintaining compliance with regulatory standards. Within Philadelphia, Cityworks is used in the Streets department, Water department, and Parks & Recreation department. These groups often need to compare maintenance activities to identify points of overlap and mutual involvement.

The mission of the Philadelphia Streets department is to keep the streets clean and safe for citizens in a cost-effective and efficient manner. The department delivers a number of city services which are critical to maintaining the public health and safety in surrounding communities. Accomplishing this goal involves, but is not limited to, maintaining street lights, traffic signals and signs, street surfaces, curbside trash and recycling collection, snow and ice removal, code enforcement related to sanitation, sidewalks, and the roadway right-of-way. The department oversees the construction and maintenance of 320 bridges and 2,575 miles of streets and highways. In addition, the Streets department is also the central location for requests received by the city’s 311 system and Customer Affairs unit, which includes a citizen web portal.

Because of the number of groups and the large geographic area covered, the Streets department uses a combination of configurations in Cityworks and Esri to route the requests to the correct field location. This helps to insure requests are dispatched quickly and addressed by the correct staff. And within the Streets department, there is variation in those workflows because different divisions utilize different components of Cityworks. For example, the Sanitation division only uses the service request portion of Cityworks because their workflows are often a one-step process. Meanwhile, the Street Lighting and Highway units rely heavily on the work order component of Cityworks, as their workflows relate to an asset and are managed through a series of tasks.

Often the work involved with the workflows involves multiple tasks and coordination with other departments—particularly with the Water department. The Streets department is responsible for the permanent repair for work performed by both the Water department and private plumbers (who obtain street opening permits from the Water department). Given the magnitude of work done by the city, this involves daily updates between the two departments. In addition to its other work activities, the Streets department receives updates on work performed by the Water department, and must then oversee repairs to any affected streets.

Philadelphia Streets Department information services director, Marion Storey, said, “Cityworks is particularly helpful when the department is dealing with a large project that requires regular reporting. For example, the city is currently replacing all 18,000 alley lights. This is a multi-year project requiring leadership from the Street Lighting division and coordination with the Sanitation division and contractors to handle cleaning the alleys, tree trimming, and replacement of each and every alley light. The work order count is over 5,700 for this project alone.”

In these instances, each city has implemented the solution in a manner that helps to meet their unique needs, based on organization size, service size, and focus. The scalability of Cityworks is highlighted by the contained usage within Butler and the distribution of the solution among different divisions and departments within Philadelphia, as well as the variances in which components of the solution are used by different users. This flexibility will continue to be a vital asset as each organization grows and adds new departments and users.  

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