GOVERNMENT TECHNOLOGY/GIS helps with asset management
Because of its multiple capabilities, GIS technology benefits a variety of public and private enterprises and disciplines. Emergency planners use GIS to calculate emergency response times; environmentalists use GIS to identify wetlands that need protection; and real estate appraisers use GIS to locate ownership and tax information for parcels of land. The data can be used for scientific investigations, resource management and development planning. In addition, the advances in technology that have occurred in recent years have resulted in lower costs and improvements in GIS hardware and software.
Public works professionals involved with infrastructure asset management have found GIS to be an especially valuable tool for predicting outcomes and planning strategies. For example, a public works director can use GIS to quickly assess the condition of a community’s entire roadway system and make informed decisions about where to allocate local resources.
While many systems perform functions that an infrastructure asset manager can conduct manually, GIS is able to do so more quickly than a manager could. Additionally, GIS allows the manager to showcase that information in a manner that is easily understood by everyone – not just those with technical expertise. That was the case in Connecticut, where several towns used GIS to help secure local roadway funding.
New Britain, Conn., uses GIS to assess its citywide pavement and sidewalk conditions for capital planning purposes. The city inventories and analyzes the condition and repair needs of each pavement section, and the resulting data are linked to its GIS to assist with project planning and funding allocation. New Britain also has used GIS to evaluate the adequacy of pedestrian ramps in the city.
Similarly, Yarmouth, Mass., has used GIS in public meetings to present roadway resurfacing and maintenance plans. The system has allowed city officials to demonstrate the possible effects of funding decisions on future pavement conditions. The technology has greatly enhanced the city’s ability to communicate effectively with its residents and the media, and to determine budgets for roadway repair and maintenance. “The GIS has been a wonderful tool in helping us present information in a way that helps people understand and see results,” says town engineer Rick de Mello.
In Boston, GIS and information management software is helping advance Mayor Tom Menino’s Pave 2000 program – an aggressive and comprehensive effort to improve the city’s roadway conditions. GIS software allowed city workers to link 800 miles of roadway data to pavement condition data in order to create an interactive map that matches street names and pavement conditions. Officials now use GIS data to produce maps displaying all streets that have been resurfaced in the last five years and to set priorities for improvements. In addition, GIS is helping the city coordinate with utility companies to reduce the impact of utility cuts.
GIS also helped Prairie Village, Kan., develop a comprehensive system for pavement, drainage and other infrastructure data. The city is able to plot the location of resident service requests and identify locations with frequent maintenance service needs. “The software allows us to identify recurring drainage problems, analyze them and come up with a solution,” says Prairie Village Public Works Director Bob Pryzby. “It’s come a long way from being just a street-rating program.”
GIS allows city officials to better manage their assets in a centralized location. Users can compare the positive and negative qualities of infrastructure and make the most informed decisions about construction and funding.