Pulling it together
Local governments have spent millions implementing geographic information system (GIS) technology and dedicating resources to program data into their GIS. However, for many, the systems contain only basic information about each asset’s features and attributes, including locations and descriptions. To supplement the GIS information, some communities are linking their GIS with Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) software, which contains information about infrastructure conditions, history and upcoming maintenance requirements.
EAM software helps managers organize information about assets and their conditions to identify and anticipate problems, and direct maintenance. The software can consolidate asset information from several departments, reducing overall IT costs and centralizing infrastructure maintenance decisions.
By linking EAM and GIS, several departments can see others’ assets and coordinate maintenance tasks more easily. For example, a city’s water and wastewater division may have data for water pipes, pumps and valves, while the stormwater division may have the most accurate information on effluent streams and discharge points. By sharing GIS data and linking it with maintenance schedules, communities can avoid construction delays by digging only once to fix several problems at a time. The combination also can help managers allocate equipment and create efficient routes for technicians.
To link information stored in an EAM with GIS data, both need open application program interfaces (APIs) or Web services capabilities. Some EAM software is designed with service-oriented architecture (SOA) that makes it faster and easier to connect applications and data stores. For communities that use EAM and GIS programs not built on open standards or SOA-based technologies, some customization may be required to help them communicate.
Charlotte County, Fla., is combining its EAM with GIS to better manage asset repairs, measure performance and track cost of ownership for the county’s assets. The effort at Charlotte County has brought together disparate data to form a more complete and mature GIS. It also has helped change how departments interact by challenging staff to think comprehensively about systems and assets. All departments now can see the complex relationships of their assets and better plan for their maintenance.
With comprehensive software systems, cities and counties can gain a holistic view of their assets, and save money and labor maintaining critical infrastructure. They also can better comply with federal guidelines — including those set forth in the Governmental Accounting Standards Board Statements 34 and 35 and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Capacity, Management, Operation and Maintenance program — that call for public agencies to improve tracking, management, operations, reporting and financial accountability for capital assets.
The author is senior director for Industry Product Marketing for Atlanta-based Infor.