Opelika Utilities, located in Opelika, Alabama, provides the city’s growing population with clean, plentiful water through innovative use of technology. Opelika currently serves nearly 20,000 customers and recently opened a new state-of-the-art treatment facility combining the best design components of more than a dozen other facilities from across the country. To support efficient field operations, they desired to similarly implement the latest location technologies. One year ago, The Utility had a very limited amount of their water network in the GIS database (estimated at about 10%) and they wanted a solution to quickly help them populate the complete database to support their pending asset management system. With asset management and operations, their vision was for interactive maps to be directly in the hands of the field operators and communicate timely information back to managers without the need to return to the office.
Opelika Utilities has an entirely cloud-based IT infrastructure. GISi configured the ArcGIS for Server software on the application and database servers and setup ArcGIS for Desktop tools on the virtual desktops. We then migrated their limited GIS data into the ArcGIS for Local Government information model and configured the Water Utility Editing tools. The Utility began digitizing their network from georeferenced as-builts and testing connectivity with the Water Utility Reporting tools as they went. Once comfortable with the workflow, we helped them setup an ArcGIS Online and Collector workflow to collect point features in the field directly into the database, replacing a cumbersome GPS import process. As management asked questions about progress on the data collection, we implemented an Operations Dashboard configured to display live field information. In about 6 months, Opelika Utilities has collected 95% of their water network infrastructure. In that same time, more than 10 Esri Water Utility solution applications have been deployed to ArcGIS Online including the Utility Trace, Plans and Drawings, Capital Projects, Field Notes, Inspections, and Main Break apps. In These apps are becoming a primary communication tool for Opelika staff as the network data collection nears completion.
The GIS data and applications improve Opelika’s ability to supply clean, plentiful water and efficiently edit workflow to more quickly collect data – while live field data collection eliminates several steps of workflow. Opelika also benefits from an operations dashboard that can automatically illustrate the progress and location of collection. The GIS data supports field operations and Cityworks asset management, demonstrating value and quickly addressing emerging needs. Looking ahead, the next steps will involve public-facing applications that will promote better communication with customers.