Combating the Elements with Collector for ArcGIS

Situated on the largest lake in Sweden, Karlstad is home to more than 87,000 residents. As a lakefront community, the city has unique concerns about the impact of weather on its infrastructure.

The Challenge

Similar to the governments of Chicago, Illinois, and other cities located alongside large lakes, the City of Karlstad must contend with unusually gusty weather that can threaten public infrastructure such as light poles. Weather can corrode the poles themselves and compromise their foundations, leading to increased risks of exposed wiring and even collapse.

After a dog in a nearby town was electrocuted by a light pole—an incident that received widespread media attention—the city decided it needed to get a clear picture of the condition of 20,000 light poles in its jurisdiction. While the city had maintained a robust geographic information system (GIS) for years, staff lacked any authoritative information about the location of light poles and their status. Light poles were typically not replaced until they broke, and city leaders wanted to ensure that assets were addressed before they became public hazards.

The Solution

With growing concerns over the condition of specific poles, the city decided to inventory its entire collection of light poles. Using the Collector for ArcGIS app on an Apple iPad, the city dispatched a summer intern to navigate the city and collect information about every light pole in it.

At each light pole, the intern captured the precise location using the iPad’s onboard GPS. The intern photographed each light pole and the surrounding foundation and rated the condition of the light pole from 1 to

5 (scores of 4 and 5 indicated serious damage). As each record was collected, the information updated an editable ArcGIS for Server service that was streamed into an internal-facing web map at the city office.

The Benefit

In less than eight hours, city staff were able to configure Collector for ArcGIS and ArcGIS for Server for the light pole inventory. After a few weeks of data collection, the city was able to create a complete digital inventory of its light poles for the first time. Now, instead of waiting for a pole to malfunction, the city can focus its resources on light poles that are in greatest need of replacement. And at an average cost of 10,000 SEK (approximately US$1,200) per broken light pole, this new process has saved the city thousands of dollars and person-hours in proactive maintenance and replacement. The information has also helped the city better plan and justify its maintenance budget to elected officials.

The success of the light pole inventory has led the city to plan other asset inventories (such as life preservers, trash cans, and pedestrian crossings) with Collector for ArcGIS. Staff and officials alike cite the speed of collection and the richness of the information collected as two reasons to expand the approach at Karlstad.

“Collector for ArcGIS is a great tool when it comes to collecting or altering any kind of spatial data, anywhere,” said Johan Asplund, developer at the City of Karlstad. “It gives us the ability to instantly distribute the data to the officials concerned or to the inhabitants of Karlstad.”