As with many collaborations, the road that led to the two entities joining forces happened over time. In most communities, resources, planning, and decisions at city and county seldom intersect. But Omaha City and Douglas County recognize they are stronger and more effective when working together.
Cityworks was first implemented in Douglas County in the spring of 2005 to help adhere to GASB (Government Accounting Standards Board) standards. Soon the county began tracking assets, equipment, labor, and materials using Cityworks. Having this data in a centralized location made information easy to retrieve and simple to analyze using Cityworks reporting capabilities.
As Douglas County continued to benefit from Cityworks, the City of Omaha Public Works Department (OPW) was impressed with what they saw happening at the county and intrigued by what Cityworks could offer them. At the time, departments throughout Omaha were using different work order management systems—none of which used GIS.
“The integration of GIS into the work management process appealed to the Omaha Public Works Department,” says Michael Schonlau, Douglas County GIS coordinator. The city recognized that their decision to choose Cityworks as their GIS-centric software “was based on leveraging what the county had learned from their Cityworks implementation,” Schonlau states. “Douglas County had a permanent GIS staff to administer the system, assist with the implementation, and integrate their existing GIS data into a more comprehensive work management system.”
In the spring of 2007, OPW began using Cityworks for street and sewer maintenance and tracking work orders on city-owned assets. Immediately, the department was pleased with the results. Since then, Cityworks has become an enterprise solution for both the city and the county.
At Omaha City, Cityworks is currently used in the following areas at OPW: construction, streets, sewers, traffic, and environmental quality. It is also used by the Police Department, Law Department, and Parks Department for code enforcement. The City’s barricade contractor and the Mayor’s office also use Cityworks.
At Douglas County, Cityworks is currently used in several departments, including the GIS, Engineering, Environmental Services (weed control and stormwater management), and Health (environmental and sanitary inspections) Departments, as well as the Land Reutilization Committee.
Between city and county, the use of Cityworks crosses over when the agencies have similar operations on both sides, some of which include issues from roads, snow, or weeds. Having a shared enterprise environment “benefits both the city and county because we have built up a lot of user and administrative expertise, saved on infrastructure costs, and centralized management of the various systems,” says Schonlau. “The centralization of those components has enabled technical staff to focus on their GIS data, workflows and reports, and focus on making Cityworks a more integrated part of their day-to-day operations.”
The cloud deployment of Cityworks, which began in 2011, was also a joint venture between city and county. The Douglas County GIS Department manages most of its enterprise software and databases in the cloud. All components tied to Cityworks (SQL Server, ArcSDE, ArcGIS Server, Cityworks Server AMS) are hosted in the cloud. Schonlau comments, “This environment is beneficial because we are more scalable, more flexible, and can more quickly and efficiently deploy new versions of software without impacting our production environment.”
Over the years, both city and county have realized many advantages due to their use of Cityworks. Steve Cacioppo, Douglas County GIS analyst, explains, “Cityworks has benefited both agencies in numerous ways. The obvious benefit is with work order and asset management. Having multiple departments on a single work order management system makes communication easier and more effective.” As both agencies work together, Cacioppo says, “Field inspectors can access work order and GIS data on mobile devices in the field, making them more productive and more efficient at resolving issues. We have seen increased productivity, better use of resources, improved communication, and enhanced reporting capabilities, to name a few improvements.” And most importantly, Cacioppo adds, “Cityworks provides management a big picture of what is going on in the city.”
Omaha City and Douglas County have been pleased with their decision to come together in their use of Cityworks, and feel the joint venture has been, and will continue to be, very beneficial to both organizations.
By Michael Schonlau, Douglas County GIS Coordinator and Steve Cacioppo, Douglas County GIS Analyst