Sibling Departments Engineering and Public Works Work Together at the City of Biloxi, Mississippi

The City of Biloxi began using Cityworks in 2006, one year after Hurricane Katrina demolished an estimated 90% of the buildings in the city. In the past two years, they have migrated from Desktop to Office/Field for AMS, expanding from four users to more than 60. Inventory is now maintained in Cityworks Storeroom, and city workers now use Field with six laptops and seven iPads.

In 2016, the City of Biloxi underwent some major departmental changes with the creation of a new Engineering Department. Biloxi’s mayor, Andrew Gilich, decided to separate what was once a division of the Public Works Department into a separate department. Separating engineering and public works meant having two directors collaborate on major problems and issues to determine whether it was something public works could take care of in-house or a capital project that engineering needed to handle.

With the creation of the new Engineering Department, not only did they have to learn the responsibilities of being their own department—such as managing a budget, payroll, purchasing, mail runs, and so on—engineering also took over management of a $355 million infrastructure repair project. A task of this nature and level of responsibility requires extreme detail as far as issues, documents, transmittals, and collaboration with the contractors and Public Works Department to deal with main breaks, road closures, water quality, and more.

Engineering uses Cityworks to create service requests for every complaint or issue related to the infrastructure repair project, as well as all other projects the department manages. Having a service request for the issue allows the department to see the number of times the caller has reached out and in what time frame. Complaints are documented in Cityworks, as well as any pictures related to the issue. Service requests are then sent to inspectors to determine whether it is a contractor issue or something unrelated to a construction project. If the contractor is responsible, the service request is emailed to the contractor and the status and resolution are updated to show who is resolving the issue. When the contractor is not responsible, the service request is forwarded to the Public Works Department to create a work order. This gives the Public Works Department background on the issue, how it got to them, who investigated the issue, as well as the caller’s initial statement.

Having the ability to display assets on a map and share data about each feature is an important factor for water, sewer, drainage, and even the city’s sign shop to do their jobs and maintain the city’s infrastructure. Biloxi has not only begun to display utilities, but to show boundaries of projects under construction, as well as projects that are designed and planned to be bid on soon. Being able to see where a project is ongoing or knowing that an area will be reconstructed allows the Public Works Department to determine where emergency repairs are needed or if it is something that is being resolved by another project.

Cityworks has allowed the Engineering Department to run reports on the number of complaints handled in response to each project, where the problems are primarily occurring, and the amount of time it takes for the city to resolve the issue. Managing a project of this scale requires a certain amount of detail, and Cityworks is the perfect option for the department. It seemed only logical for a department founded on engineering and GIS to use a GIS-based program that allows easy communication between sibling departments, such as public works and engineering. 

 

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