Municipalities throughout North America face growing challenges with the aging and deterioration of infrastructure assets, tight renewal budgets, rising demand levels, and compliance with new environmental and accounting regulations.  As a result, municipal leaders require much higher and more complex understanding of their infrastructure management processes, and that in turn has stimulated demand for more detailed and timely information.  The award-winning City of Barrie, Ontario, Canada, met these challenges head-on with Cityworks.  Their transition to Azteca Systems’ innovative GIS-centric solution enabled the growing municipality to dramatically streamline asset maintenance and repairs while optimizing sustainability of its growing infrastructure.

Managing a growing infrastructure

Work management is integral to keeping infrastructure safe, operational, and sustainable. This requires managing labour, material, and equipment by recording the time and costs associated with keeping assets operational. With a population of approximately 140,000, the City of Barrie is among the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in Canada.  Barrie’s size requires the city to effectively manage an infrastructure that is constantly changing and expanding.“Prior to implementing Cityworks, our work management system was largely comprised of manual processes,” said Joy Packham, Manager of Desktop Services, City of Barrie. “There were few mechanisms in place to link assets with records of work performed. Work order information would often be recorded in Microsoft Excel or Word documents and stored in filing cabinets.”

Developing a strategic plan

The City of Barrie developed a corporate asset management strategy that involved collecting accurate, up-to-date information for all water-, street-, and park- related infrastructure. The city then implemented Cityworks. The automated solution leverages data from the city’s existing geodatabase (GIS database) and allows staff to log requests for service, distribute requests to the appropriate staff, schedule any necessary work, and monitor the progress of these and other projects across the municipality. The solution is also used to automatically schedule recurring, cyclical, and preventative maintenance work.Using Cityworks, operational staff can literally see a complete view of ongoing maintenance on the system’s dynamic and interactive GIS map display. They can also directly edit asset attribute information related to water features (hydrants, meters, manholes), right-of-way, and other assets. Once a project is complete, work orders are automatically closed, yet the complete work history information is available for supporting reports.

Achieving efficiencies over the long term

Through Cityworks, the City of Barrie has achieved a common operational picture of its assets, while expanding access to real-time data across the organization. Operations staff can access both active and historic work orders related to any asset, as well as any available corresponding data (such as photos) to make more informed decisions. With its data stored in a central database, city staff can also readily identify gaps in asset information.“We’re now taking a proactive approach to work management,” said Packham. “Using Cityworks, we can quickly retrieve vital information to make maintenance-related decisions that affect our infrastructure today and tomorrow. The ability to see completed and proposed work on a map view allows for better tracking and early identification of potential problem areas.”With all of the maintenance-related information now available and directly linked to specific assets in the GIS, data analysis can be used to identify problem areas.  This enables the municipality to mitigate existing issues, and preempt potential issues before they occur, to optimize infrastructure sustainability. Cityworks has also enabled a broader audience to view and edit asset information, streamlining workflow and eliminating the need for GIS staff to continually update asset data. Cityworks has empowered GIS at the City of Barrie, helping to ensure accurate, timely, and reliable asset management.

By Barry Kelly, Industry Manager, Public Works, Business Development and Karen Stewart, Industry Manager, Public Works, Business Development, Esri Canada


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