ArcGIS Online Case Study: Public Utilities – Salt Lake City, Utah


Nick Kryger: Everything that happens at Public Utilities is tied to our GIS. From
people out in the field to customer service to survey, everybody is using GIS. Years ago,
you would do kind of a master plan of your water system or your sewer system. What happens
is it’s a one-time shot. So it’s like here’s your master plan for 10 years ago. Where now,
we model our entire system every day. So we’re kind of doing a master plan every single day.
It’s always running Jeff Niermeyer: We now have this information
and data accessible to broad cross-sections of not only our internal users, our employees,
but also our external customers that sometimes need to get access to this. So it’s really
made us much more efficient on how we do business. It’s made us much more integral in making
sure that everybody that needs to know can have access to the data without having to
go hunt up the keeper of that data. And it’s been a great addition to this department internally,
making us much less siloed and much more of an integrated organization. For example, we would have work orders come
in to locate. People would pull paper maps and go out and try and locate a facility,
and it was very time consuming and not as accurate. And with the online tools now, we
can all do that with tablet applications, and the maps are live. Tammy Wambeam: ArcGIS Online is very similar
to any kind of web map. So for them it’s web mapping and they understand exactly. You look
at it. You zoom in, you zoom out. It’s similar to everything else, and it’s an interface
they’re used to. And so it’s really changed and so a lot of people are actually using
the map, whereas the people before were afraid of the map. Mark Ross: I’ve been doing this for like 23
years. So back in the day we had books, 11×17 binder books, the old school. And half of
my truck at one point half full of just books. I’ve seen microfilm come and go, and I’ve
seen every evolution. You relied on information that was probably six months to a year old.
For any detail, you had to go to another place, but that would take days, days to dig all
that up. Nick Kryger: I mean their trucks are now their
office, because they’re basically out in the field working constantly now. Mark Ross: When you only have 48 hours from
the time you receive your work until it has to be completed, the less I have to go confer
with people to find out if, you know, information on it, I can simply . . . it’s right there.
Everything I need to know is right in front of me. So the time aspect is everything. Nick Kryger: We’ve also added a lot of searching
capabilities into those maps that allow them to like find a manhole, you know, or find
a valve. They can just type it in. Mark Ross: When an entire street is just a
bank of snow, and all I have is the iPad, I walk right up over the meter. The meter had been
surveyed in, so it took me right up to it and I found it, where I would have to dig
the entire bank out, by hand, previously. So that saved me a half a day. Nick Kryger: We average about 3,000 locates
a month. Not to mention they’re getting their work done for the next day. Stu Lawrence: When there’s an investigation
checked in by Customer Service, it automatically goes onto the map, and then it puts it on
the day when it’s due. And then also it has the ones that are due within the next few
weeks, and I just keep moving off the dots, and I get probably 40% better work performance
out of it. I bet lot of the times that I have tried to find meters before I had those, I
probably could have been an hour on the job instead of like 10 minutes, and it also gives
me the meter numbers and the MXU numbers. Tammy Wambeam: They can take payments in the
field, whereas before they were calling in and, you know, saying, “This is the credit
card number. This is the person’s name.” Instead of just taking the credit card and putting
it in themselves. And so a lot of the convenience for them of being able to do that without
calling constantly on the radio or the cell phone. And then it frees up the representatives
they were calling to actually answer calls for doing their job, versus doing this investigation
or collecting job. Jeff Niermeyer: We don’t have crews sitting
around waiting for somebody else to bring them information. They have it in their hands. Local government is going through a major
change where openness and transparency is a major attribute that all of our elected
officials are looking for. Nick Kryger: We’ve published all of our trail
maps on our website, where you can just go and you can kind of read up on the trails.
So it might say it’s to this elevation. Are you allowed to have a dog or not? Or you could
actually just pull up the map right there in your home or on the trail itself. All our
stuff is free for citizens. We do put a lot of other things out there
for the public as well, like FEMA maps, all our flood plain maps, all of those are interactive
maps available. So the trend today for GIS, or at least for
within Public Utilities, is definitely faster maps, better access to all employees and the
public. It doesn’t have to just do with water, sewer, and storm. It also has to do with people
seeing a fire hydrant, water flying out of it, and being able to post, say, “Hey, we’ve
got a bad hydrant here. It’s at this location.” And being able to, with their phone, actually
click and have a dispatch go out there and actually dispatch someone to go out and fix
it. I think that the public, our management, the
mayor, everybody’s looking for more for less. It’s doing more work, less time, with fewer
people. I mean really, in the long run, that’s what it seems to be. And the only way to do
that is with technology. And we’re using every piece any way of using it we can. ArcGIS Online
allows us to do a lot of what we need right now.

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