In many ways, today’s demand for timely and reliable data to support better decision-making reminds me of the late ’80s and early ’90s. An urgency was developing among utilities and local government organizations to digitize paper documents that contained their current and historical knowledge of critical infrastructure assets.

It was not uncommon for this data to be stored in basement rooms of operations buildings, out of sight and sometimes out of mind. Key employees at these organizations knew that, if only this data could be made accessible, it could provide valuable insights into their operations.

As utilities and local government organizations digitized, some chose to house their asset data in the database of work management systems. Others chose to house their data into the database of the GIS.

Over the years, more and more organizations saw their GIS as the most up-to-date and accurate repository for their critical asset data. Using GIS data led to better decisions and actions—better asset management.

Cityworks began by challenging the assumption that these two systems should remain siloed, and we looked for a way to connect work management systems with ArcGIS®, the geodatabase created by Esri®. The ArcGIS geodatabase was dynamic and flexible. An organization could easily design and create their data to represent the real world. In contrast, work management system databases were much less dynamic. Changes required custom programming or custom scripting. We saw ArcGIS as a platform for asset management and built the Cityworks GIS-centric public asset management system.

Today, utilities and local governments face another turning point in technology development: the digital twin. As Esri explains, “A digital twin is a virtual representation of an object, process, or system that bridges the gap between the physical and digital worlds.” At its core, this is what GIS has always been,and this is the solution we were creating those decades ago with a GIS-centric public asset management platform. Cityworks and ArcGIS provide a powerful link between the physical and digital worlds, and the functionality of GIS as a dynamic, flexible, accurate, and up-to-date virtual representation of all assettypes continues to improve.

GIS has always provided a powerful link between the physical and digital worlds, and its functionality as a dynamic, flexible, accurate, and up-to-date virtual representation of all asset types continues to improve. One key component of today’s digital twins is the ability to leverage real-time sensor data to monitor trends and predict outcomes. I have written much about the System of Engagement, System of Record, and System of Insight and how GIS-centric is a core foundational component with GIS as the asset repository. IoT expands these systems by providing real-time updates to the GIS, in turn leading to better decision-making and actions for managing critical public assets—a System of Action.

The Cityworks GIS-centric design continues to use the Esri geodatabase as the asset repository for an organization’s critical asset data without redundancy, duplication, or syncing. In Cityworks, there are no “behind the scenes” asset tables restricting the dynamic and flexible qualities of the geodatabase by requiring duplicate data or syncing. Our GIS-centric approach maximizes the geographic capacity of digital twins in every way.

Take, for example, the enhancements ArcGIS Indoors and Cityworks offer for vertical asset management. Organizations can now combine indoor spatial awareness with GIS data and smart sensors to identify and predict equipment failure, automate asset controls, secure key areas, send alerts, and more.

Another application of virtual asset modeling can be found in the ArcGIS Utility Network, which offers specialized functionality for linear assets managed by water, gas, and electric utilities. You can see how San Juan Water District uses the ArcGIS Utility Network with Cityworks here.

As a part of the Trimble family of companies, Cityworks is extending the GIS-centric digital twin approach in a new intelligent asset management solution for water and wastewater utilities. Cityworks, ArcGIS, and Trimble work together to create a System of Action that helps utilities optimize asset performance, field productivity, and environmental compliance while enhancing safety, sustainability, and quality of service. The solution allows utilities to leverage sensor data, location intelligence, and analytics tools in their asset management strategies by combining the Cityworks GIS-centric asset management platform with Trimble’s Telog® IoT recorders and the latest release of Trimble Unity™ remote monitoring software.

Just like the early ’90s, today we live in an exciting time of advancement for utilities and local government organizations. Yet, the end-goal remains the same. We designed and created the leading GIS-centric platform to inform the actions you take and the decisions you make to create more resilient, sustainable, and safe communities—a system of action for communities of action.

By Brian Haslam, Cityworks president and CEO


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