Located just west of Chicago, DuPage County is the second-largest county in Illinois and home to nearly one million residents. DuPage County has experienced extensive urban growth, with a 500 percent increase in population since 1950. This rapid urbanization brought with it a huge loss of agricultural land and a decline in open space, replaced instead with suburban sprawl. As a result, DuPage became subject to both local and riverine flooding.

In response to a devastating flood in 1987, the Illinois legislature granted DuPage County—as well as the other collar counties of Chicago—the authority to create a regional stormwater management program, which DuPage enacted in 1988. The mission of DuPage County’s Stormwater Management Department (SWM) is to mitigate the effects of urbanization on flooding, as well as protect for future impacts.

THE CHALLENGE

In an effort to reduce flooding and its associated damages, SWM owns, operates, and maintains 17 flood control facilities, 17 drainage facilities, and nearly 200 lots. SWM also monitors more than 300 natural area sites annually. SWM is responsible for monitoring, maintaining, repairing, restoring, and replacing all of the assets associated with these sites, which include pumps, actuators, generators, gauges, cameras, lighting, fencing, vegetation, and much more. For many years, SWM relied on weekly written flood control facility inspections, as well as a combination of verbal and electronic work orders, to maintain all of these assets and resolve any issues. As a result, some items were falling through the cracks—both figuratively and literally.

In 2015, SWM and DuPage County’s GIS Department implemented Esri Citizen Problem Reporter, a configuration of the Crowdsource Reporter application that allows the general public to report non-emergency problems from a smartphone, tablet, or desktop computer.

Residents in DuPage County now use Citizen Problem Reporter to submit non-emergency waterway issues—such as illegal dumping, stream blockage, stream erosion, and other water quality problems—directly to SWM staff. The app helps staff quickly identify and address issues, leading to faster and more efficient responses. 

However, SWM still needed a system to handle all of the assets the public could not see. Anthony Charlton, director of the Stormwater Management Department, was the driving force behind the move to a sustainable asset management system.

“We needed a digital system to connect all of our divisions, staff, and assets,” Charlton said. “So, we started looking for a technology that could help us improve asset management, track projects and productivity, perform cost analysis, minimize risk, and be better prepared for emergency events.”

THE SOLUTION

DuPage County as a whole has a solid GIS foundation, so it was important to find asset management software capable of integrating seamlessly with ArcGIS. Cityworks’ unique GIS-centric approach made it the obvious choice. It also helped that the DuPage County Public Works Department has been a Cityworks user since 2004, so the county already had much of its local drainage information in Cityworks.

In February 2018, SWM contracted with the Cityworks professional services team to jumpstart implementation of Cityworks AMS. The joint project team started by gathering and analyzing all of SWM’s paper forms, workflow routines, employees, structures, materials, and equipment. Next, SWM built an accurate inventory of all its assets, which were then mapped and stored into an ArcGIS database.

Cityworks professional services configured a custom Cityworks database that included work orders, service requests, and inspections collected during their analysis of SWM’s workflows and day-to-day activities. Before SWM went live with the new system, Cityworks also held a comprehensive onsite training that included server administration, as well as end-user desktop and mobile training. On April 1, SWM went live with Cityworks.

THE RESULT

SWM saw immediate benefits after implementing the software and establishing—and continually updating—the asset database. Cityworks provides SWM with an efficient reporting system to track staff hours, materials, and equipment needed for various jobs, which helps supervisors monitor progress. Now SWM can confidently manage, analyze, and track the condition of hundreds of assets; reduce the risk of failure; and improve the department’s emergency preparedness.

 

A custom Cityworks dashboard designed by SWM staff helps track recent work activities, job type trends, employee workload, production by week, and high-priority flooding service requests

 

Data mobility is one of the biggest benefits of the new system. The Cityworks mobile native app gives SWM field personnel full access to Cityworks anytime, anywhere. Field crews can now conduct routine maintenance inspections without the need for paperwork. While onsite, they can access and update their tasks, generate work orders, and add attachments in real-time. The interactive map interface also empowers field crews to improve their efficiency by selecting work activities in the same geographic area.

Product features like real-time updates, attachments, automatic emails, comments, and special instructions help staff communicate more clearly. Interdepartmental communication, specifically between SWM and DuPage County’s Public Works Department, has also improved. In short, SWM works smarter.

Just a month after the Cityworks implementation, SWM put their asset management system to the test. DuPage County received more than five inches of rain in one week, prompting SWM to activate flood control facility operations.

“Not only did Cityworks help us manage, schedule, and respond to resident reports of flooding, but it was also a clearinghouse for all of the information associated with each request,” said Charlton. 

 “We documented who called, when they called, what they reported, what we found during our response with visual documentation and the eventual resolution. This data will be retained in perpetuity, so we can always recall what was done here in the past should any other requests come in.”

SWM is currently working with DuPage County’s GIS Department to integrate the Esri Citizen Problem Reporter app with Cityworks, allowing for a seamless transfer of data and attachments from incoming resident reports. This integration will help streamline the workflow from initial service request to associated fieldwork and final decision-making.

Implementing Cityworks and integrating Citizen Problem Reporter are just the beginning of an ongoing journey to develop a sustainable asset management system. Moving forward, SWM aims to use Cityworks throughout the entire asset management workflow from service requests through resolution. Whether it comes from a citizen report or an automated maintenance reminder, Cityworks will be the one-stop-shop for SWM.

Sarah Hunn is deputy director and Tamara Freihat is GIS analyst at DuPage County Stormwater Management.

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