O’Fallon, Illinois Q&A with Dan Gentry, IT Manager

Cityworks: O’Fallon has been a Cityworks user since 2005. How has the city’s use of Cityworks evolved over the years?
Dan Gentry: O’Fallon’s original Cityworks implementation included two desktop users and an administrator within the Public Works department, focused primarily on utility operations. The original setup involved a personal geodatabase consumed by Cityworks Desktop and three concurrent-use GIS licenses. During our first full year of Cityworks use, we documented 2,200 work orders. Since that time we have expanded our Cityworks deployment. In the last three years, we have documented more than 11,000 work activities each year.

CW: What departments and areas of the city is Cityworks currently utilized in?
DG: Over time we have expanded both our use of Cityworks and Esri products beyond our original few localized installations. Now a significant number of employees throughout the organization rely on it. We have been running enterprise licenses for both Cityworks and Esri since 2008. We are currently running Server AMS 2012.1 and Desktop. Use of Cityworks has expanded to include facility maintenance activities, as well as GIS and software project tracking. Departmental usage has expanded to include parks and information technology. Our user base has gone from two day-to-day users to more than a dozen regular users. Many others rely on Cityworks for either management reporting or ticket and asset management. Cityworks is integrated with Dig-Smart LLC for utility locate processing and tracking. We have also been using Cityworks in conjunction with CCTV operations, using the Cityworks PACP client software.

Our original Cityworks SQL Server installation has grown to support ArcSDE and ArcGIS Server Standard installations. The current environment includes a pair of clustered enterprise SQL Servers with failover capabilities. Cityworks Server is hosted on 2 virtualized installations, and there are 3 Server AMS sites. The GIS environment currently in place includes a combination of 7 physical and virtual ArcGIS Server installations. While our capabilities have grown over the years, staff from Burns & McDonnell help with high-level GIS and software support.

CW: What benefits has O’Fallon experienced using Cityworks?
DG: The biggest benefit of Cityworks has been the ability to get information about assets, service requests, maintenance needs, etc., to those who need it. Before we implemented Cityworks, only a few key employees knew anything about scheduled and historical maintenance activities. There was no reliable system in place for dispatching service requests or reporting on their progress. Planning, management, and budget decisions were complicated by these gaps in communication and information. Cityworks is able to provide information to support policy and staffing discussions, as well as answer questions related to service requests. Supervisors can now benchmark activities and discuss productivity measures with their staff. Sometimes we can even demonstrate that the “squeaky wheel” isn’t necessarily the most urgent need.

CW: What role do you feel Cityworks has had on O’Fallon’s efforts in GIS?
DG: Beyond helping us understand, track, and schedule maintenance and expenditures, Cityworks has played a key part in the construction of our GIS database. It initially provided a schema to use as a guide for the geodatabase, and then provided an incentive to build a more complete account of our infrastructure. Once we had the capability to track our assets, we could focus on building our GIS database. When Cityworks was implemented, we had a handful of feature classes hosted in a personal geodatabase. This has grown to a substantial SDE database, housing approximately 250 vector feature classes, encompassing 1.15 million map features and several dozen image services. This growth in GIS data is directly linked to Cityworks.

When our geodatabase matured to have value beyond internal uses, we focused on making our information available to the public. We were recognized for our efforts to provide public access to our GIS data, maps, and analysis. We are now planning to provide more ways for the public to report service requests through the Service Request API.

CW: What originally led O’Fallon to implement Cityworks?
DG: We chose to implement Cityworks when O’Fallon’s GIS was in its infancy. We had many senior employees who had an unwritten knowledge of our water, sewer, and storm systems. Plans on file often did not match field conditions, and we had no records of what maintenance had been or needed to be performed. Our population had nearly doubled in the previous two decades, and the growth rate was picking up. There are many systems available that provide a mechanism for work tracking, but we needed more than that. We wanted the ability to manage our infrastructure and related assets in a platform that would complement, support, and enhance our GIS system. We didn’t want to enter asset records in both GIS and a separate maintenance platform, and we wanted the asset management system to help drive the process of building our GIS platform. Cityworks’ GIS centric approach was, and remains, a perfect fit.

CW: What unique ways has O’Fallon found of utilizing Cityworks over the years?
DG: In a few cases, we have been able to use Cityworks as a short-term measure to meet needs beyond O’Fallon’s core focus for its deployment. Because Cityworks is so flexible, it has allowed us to expand its scope for both temporary and permanent needs relatively quickly, instead of building custom databases or scoping and acquiring systems for other needs. The most notable for us would be information technology ticket maintenance. Prior to 2007, O’Fallon did not have a centralized IT department. Network needs were outsourced, and server, database, and software maintenance were handled by individual departments, usually as an “other duties as required” part of one or two employees’ job descriptions. With the hiring of an IT manager in 2007, Cityworks became the temporary central repository for IT maintenance and ticket tracking needs. It filled this role well for three years until IT staff developed a long-term solution.

CW: What are O’Fallon’s plans for Cityworks?
DG: Our public works management information systems staff was recently consolidated with our Information Technology department. The MIS manager is the new IT manager. Cityworks, GIS, SCADA, and other related systems will continue to have a heavy public works usage, but are now being considered as enterprise systems. This will allow us to use Cityworks beyond public works. We have plans to implement the Service Request API to expand access to Cityworks to all departments. Server AMS gives us a good platform to develop and deploy department-specific maps and inboxes appropriate to their needs. We are also working towards providing better field access to employees. To this end, we are looking forward to testing Cityworks 2013, as well as exploring business partner tools for mobile devices.

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