Using a cloud-hosted, software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution has several advantages, including increased accessibility, productivity, and collaboration. Not convinced? Here’s what Cityworks Online customers have to say about the benefits they are experiencing.
Cityworks Online (CWOL) provides a cloud-hosted, GIS-centric enterprise platform that enables streamlined access from any device. This allows users to connect and collaborate from virtually anywhere while freeing up critical IT resources to focus on strategic tasks. Whether yours is a small or large organization, here are six reasons to consider using Cityworks in the cloud.
1. Access from Any Location
When Lisa Kleinosky, GIS administrator for Altoona Water Authority in Blair County, Pennsylvania, started planning for a migration to Cityworks Online in the spring of 2018, she had a specific goal in mind.
“I was primarily looking forward to having a hosted, cloud-based solution that was easy to administer,” she said.
In the two years that Altoona Water Authority has been using the platform, Kleinosky says that her team has seen a variety of benefits compared to their former desktop environment.
“Ease of access is the most obvious improvement. Instead of having software installed on multiple client machines, each CWOL user simply needs internet access and a computer or mobile device.”
And in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, having access from any location has been vital for the organization, which provides drinking water to approximately 70,000 people and maintains a wastewater collection system for more than 40,000 people.
“For several weeks, our clerk was working from home most days. She was able to create work orders just from her own computer with internet access,” Kleinosky explained. “I was also able to work remotely with Cityworks Online and could easily view work orders and create reports. We all have a way to access the system in our own time and at our own homes. That’s a huge advantage.”
Trisha Gabriel, roads and parks supervisor for the City of Livonia, Michigan, agrees that having an externalized site with Cityworks Online has made it much easier to provide essential services during the pandemic.
“If we’re doing inspections for trees or play structures, we’re able to take the tablet out in the field and record our findings without having to be in the office at a computer,” she said. “We are also able to have people who are working from home put service requests into the system. We can get out to assist residents in a timely fashion—that has helped us significantly.”
2. Adaptability and Scalability
Cityworks Online is completely scalable and adaptable to any size of local government or utility agency and provides the flexibility to create agile and simplified IT solutions—features that the City of Westland, Michigan, is taking full advantage of.
“Our mandate from the mayor is that we use technology to provide innovative solutions and services for our residents and city staff, so I’m always looking for ways to do things better, smarter, and faster,” said Craig Brown, chief innovation officer for the city.
“I knew that there was flexibility with Cityworks Online, but every time I look at the platform and I look at processes and things that are going on in the city, I can almost always fit Cityworks somewhere into that mix,” he said. “That isn’t something I can say about most other software packages. I’ve been able to twist Cityworks in a couple of very interesting ways.”
For Brown, scalability is also extremely important.
“Cityworks Online allows us to easily add additional departments,” he said. “Scalability is significantly easier with CWOL versus the on-premises solution.”
3. Increased Productivity
Cityworks offers extensive training courses designed to help clients who choose Cityworks Online. Cityworks also installs, configures, and maintains the environment, including all upgrades. Cityworks staff can deploy new feature applications faster—reducing errors and enhancing connectivity to ArcGIS Online, ArcGIS Enterprise, and third-party applications. It also allows users to collaborate in real time and free up precious time for IT staff.
“There’s less hardware maintenance. We don’t have to manage the server or the data storage,” said Brown. “Because we don’t need to deal with any of that, there is a lot less on our plate and we can focus on other projects.”
But it’s not just the IT department who benefits. For Michael Brack, assistant town manager for Fraser, Colorado, the decision to switch to Cityworks Online came down to creating greater accountability for the street operators and the water utilities group.
“CWOL has been a really valuable tool for us to track which work has been done on which assets throughout town, as well as who did the work,” he said. “We can maintain that work history and then follow up as needed. It allows us to provide more accountability for the infrastructure as a whole.”
Famous for its skiing, the tiny town of Fraser has a population of about 1,300 people. But during the winter, that number can skyrocket to more than 15,000.
“We have huge fluctuations,” said Brack. “This requires a higher level of service with the resources that we have. Cityworks Online has definitely been a good tool for that. Our public works supervisors now have a better idea of what work needs to be done and where to allocate personnel. They’ve enjoyed actually seeing an organized roadmap for what they need to do for the week or for the month.”
4. Increased Collaboration
In addition to increased productivity, Don Rohraff, director of the public works department for the City of Livonia, Michigan, has seen the benefit of increased interdepartmental collaboration.
“Working with our IT department, we can make sure that we have the migration and the integration of everything that’s happening between Cityworks and GIS,” he said.
Altoona Water Authority has also experienced greater collaboration since expanding their Cityworks Online deployment beyond the water maintenance department to also include the wastewater maintenance department.
“It’s just made everything a lot easier. Thankfully, there is a lot more collaboration and cooperation now that we have multiple users from multiple departments,” said Kleinosky. “For more than a decade, Cityworks has been a crucial tool for completing our necessary day-to-day job functions. Now that we have migrated to Cityworks Online, it should be easy to expand Cityworks access and benefits to more employees and possibly to other departments in the near future. For any organizations who might be looking for an alternative to an on-premises solution, I would absolutely recommend Cityworks Online.”
With Cityworks Online, customers enjoy the security of a large Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud. In fact, Cityworks Online provides the ability to restore point in time—allowing data to be recovered in the event of a security breach or a natural disaster. The City of Galt, California, recently experienced the power of CWOL’s security firsthand when the city was hit with a ransomware attack in December 2019.
After a city employee opened an email disguised to look as though it was sent from another staff member, malware spread throughout the city’s network of computers and servers, encrypting critical data, locking up email communication to and from city accounts, and knocking several important phone lines out of service.
“We were dead in the water,” said Bryna Smith, administrative assistant for City of Galt Public Works Department. “We couldn’t do anything—it was awful.”
The city consulted with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, and all city computers were removed from the premises. Eventually, a single computer connected to Cityworks Online was brought in for staff to use. Because CWOL was unaffected by the ransomware attack, employees were able to log their work, create service requests, and even send emails to contractors and vendors since CWOL also handles email routing.
“I thought about the annual reports that we’re required to send to the state and wondered how we would provide any information,” said Judy Huston, supervising administrative assistant for City of Galt Public Works Department. “Then I realized that the data was hosted on Cityworks Online and that it was perfectly safe.”
It took several weeks and an estimated $785,000 for the city to restore its systems.
“That cost includes ITexperts, risk management providers, legal counsel, and forensic audits,” interim city manager Thomas Haglund told Government Technology magazine in January.
But thanks to Cityworks Online, “it was much easier to get up and running, and we didn’t have to reinvent the wheel,” said Huston. “Cityworks makes what we do for the residents of our community a lot easier.”
6. Cost Savings
With Cityworks Online, the Cityworks team manages cloud deployment and provides end-to-end support, allowing customers to reap cost-saving benefits. There is faster go-live across the entire organization, and since everything is hosted and maintained by Cityworks, there is no IT overhead required to maintain the platform.
“There’s a definite return on investment,” said Brown. “We save the costs of purchasing physical equipment and the cost of the labor involved with maintaining the server and updating machines with the latest version of Cityworks. There is also a cost savings in the licensing itself.”
In addition to saving on IT costs, customers save money by working more efficiently. According to Brack, Cityworks Online prevents confusion about which assets require work and helps prioritize what work needs to be done. It also helps with time management, empowering workers to work smarter and complete more work than before in the same time period.
“Less management is required once the workers understand the program and use it properly,” he said. “It allows for handoff and shows which duties they still need to complete, what equipment they’re going to need, and how many people are going to be required to complete a certain work order.”
Access to valuable data also helps the Town of Fraser make smarter financial decisions.
“We can figure out which type of work takes up the most time, what the town is spending the most money on for public works, and which types of assets are requiring the most maintenance,” said Brack. “It gives our supervisors and managers a lot more knowledge and helps us justify costs.”
Preparing for Cityworks Online
What does your organization need to do prior to moving to Cityworks Online? Here are a few suggestions.
1. Do an upgrade to the current version of Cityworks on your database. Cityworks experts will perform a migration of a test site and make sure everything is running smoothly. While your organization is on the test site, Cityworks can provide admin and user training to ensure that everyone is up to date and ready to make the switch.
2. Externalize your organization’s GIS. The GIS services will need to be accessible from the Cityworks Online application servers. This will require the services to be externalized and available over the internet via https using a trusted SSL certificate.
3. Modernize your organization’s integrations. Cityworks Online does not support integrations that require direct database access. The most reliable way to integrate with Cityworks is using our APIs.
To learn more about how Cityworks Online can benefit your organization, schedule a demo today!
By Jamie Armstrong, Cityworks content marketing manager