The City of Arnold, Missouri, is constantly on the lookout for cutting-edge technology and ways to incorporate it into their practices. So when the option of deploying the Cityworks Online (CWOL) solution arose, Arnold management and staff jumped at the opportunity.
CWOL is the latest option of deploying Cityworks. Using Cloud technology, CWOL offers a cost-effective solution that is easily and quickly deployed. [Refer to page 20 for more details on Cityworks Online.]
Arnold’s CWOL deployment went exceptionally well. City information technology manager, Deion Christopher, said, “During the testing phase, our staff saved up their work orders and service requests in order to push the limits of Cityworks Online with mass entries. Since then, and as of today, I have not received a single complaint. Everyone is happy with the user interface, and Internet connection hasn’t caused any latency issues. There is nothing but praises coming from our user group.”
Cloud Hosted Cost Benefits
CWOL is the city’s second project involving Cloud-hosted services. As a forward looking organization, city staff recognize the importance of getting out from behind their desks to better engage citizens in the public. They are equally aware that new technology like CWOL allows for immediate response and resolutions while working in the field where problems arise.
The overall estimated cost benefits for the city was what spearheaded the decision to test CWOL. In the spring of 2009, Arnold was faced with replacing antiquated AIX servers running database systems for its Finance, Community Development, and City Clerk departments. The city performed a cost analysis to find the total cost of server replacements, continued maintenance of those machines, initial purchase of the required software upgrade, staff training, and the workload needed to maintain the new system.
“Based on our analysis, the city’s finance director, Debbie Lewis, and I made the decision, drastic though it seemed at the time, to move from our in-house system to a completely Cloud-hosted application service provider environment,” said Christopher. “Although the costs were somewhat higher with a hosted system, the overall ROI far outweighed those costs.”
Christopher was prompted to call the city’s Cityworks representative and enquire about a possible GIS and Cityworks Cloud-hosted solution for the city. With CWOL already in the works at Azteca Systems, the city was brought on as one of the early adopters. However, CWOL is not new software. It is just a Cloud option for accessing Cityworks Server, the same software organizations are using on-premises.
“During our city’s preliminary project meetings we realized that any additional yearly costs for moving to CWOL could be immediately offset by eliminating unused licenses in other software programs,” said Christopher. “I further calculated savings through elimination of new server costs and associated four years of maintenance costs. There were a couple of other prominent cost benefits uncovered as well. In using the program, local nightly backups will complete faster and require less space, since Cityworks and GIS data backups will be handled by Azteca Systems. In truth, there are just as many soft benefits as there are cost savings in our estimated ROI.”
Last budget year, the Community Development department purchased two laptops for its building inspectors, in preparation for moving towards CWOL. Eventually mobile users will utilize tablets or iPads to access online data such as Cityworks Online. There are plans for CCTV inspections from a recent INI (inflo and infiltration) study to be hosted on a streaming video site and accessed via links through ArcGIS Online.
City administration has met with a local GIS specialist to map out the city’s future GIS needs. Discussions have focused on hosting GIS maps and data online. Christopher continued, “Needless to say, from this point forward, all decisions pertaining to GIS made by the city will adhere to a hosted system roadmap. This is a direct result of the success we’ve had with our previous Cloud-hosted solutions.”
The Testing Phase
Prior to officially deploying CWOL, the city was brought on in a test environment and participated in an intensive testing phase designed to stretch the program’s capacity and limits, for the benefit of both the city and Azteca Systems. Specific staff were chosen to participate in the testing phase, based on their current level of interaction with the city’s in-house system. Data was to be entered into the system throughout the testing timeframe. Testers were eager to try out the new system.
“We asked our testers to push the CWOL system hard and to try every feature offered,” Christopher said. “From work order requests to service call entries the feedback I received was positive. In fact, our testers continued accessing CWOL after the official test phase stop date was reached and requested an extension because they wanted to further test features that either were not tried due to the time constraints or they wanted to try out features not thought of earlier. Overall, I would say that the CWOL testing phase was a great success.”
With a thorough and successful testing phase behind them, the city is moving forward to full deployment of CWOL and experiencing the benefits and results this method of deployment offers.
Christopher concludes, “I am pleased with how the Cityworks Online solution meets our current IT needs. Staff are thrilled to be moving one step closer to severing those tethers to their offices. The City of Arnold looks forward to working with Azteca Systems as we move forward with CWOL as our final Cloud-hosted GIS solution.”