June 10, 2016
By Keith Cooke, Local Government Account Executive
Like many other public works agencies, the Public Works Division of the City of Memphis has an enormous breadth of responsibilities, the bulk of which is responding to citizens' complaints, from damaged drain pipes to potholes in streets to missed trash pickups to missing sanitary manhole covers. As a result, over 80 percent of the complaint tickets coming to the city's Oracle E-Biz CRM 311 system are dispatched to Public Works. On average, this translates to about 400 tickets per day.
Division staff faced many challenges in trying to coordinate and manage the work in the most efficient way. One major challenge was the inability to see job locations and analyze other pertinent data, such as infrastructure, ownership, or parcel information. Use of their outdated paper-based system resulted in inefficient workflows, delays, job overlaps, and bottlenecks. Field staff didn't have access to all the information they needed. Consequently, this affected resolution of work orders.
Staff from the Drain Maintenance Department within Public Works requested that the Enterprise GIS Department of Information Services Division work with them to develop an end-to-end solution for tying operational work processes, enabling the management team and field supervisors and crew to have near real-time access to service ticket information. In addition, all relevant location data had to be made available, either out in the field or in the back office, for reporting and dashboard purposes.
Della Adams, GIS manager for the city, and her team decided to produce a suite of maps and apps in ArcGIS Online. Before the first model was created, though, Adams pursued buy-in from departmental leadership. This was an absolutely crucial component to the success of the project. Further, she maintained contact with both leadership and staff during the process to help solidify the success of the solution.
This solution gave Public Works staff the ability to capture and incorporate service requests from the Oracle CRM 311 system with the feature class in the geographic information system (GIS). This gave them the ability to see on a map, from either their office PC or mobile device in the field, exactly what and where their outstanding tickets were at all times. Now, department staff can manage all their tickets in this geodatabase environment, including allowing editing in the field.
While the solution certainly benefits the field crews, it empowers the entire chain of command in Public Works. Supervisors can now readily and easily create standardized reports for management. Reports that used to only be available monthly are now updated and available on a daily basis. More than just looking at dots on a map, they can perform spatial analysis of the data in these apps, such as analyzing request types by zone and time. In addition, the division and deputy directors now have access to a real-time operational dashboard that relays the performance metrics of the department, and they are able to make adjustments to labor and resources as needed. The ArcGIS platform is now tying the entire department together to not only be more efficient in the field but to make better, more sustainable and justifiable decisions in the office.
As a result of implementing this suite of GIS solutions for drain maintenance, department staff have reduced their ticket closing time by 33 percent from the previous year. The average time for closing service requests dropped from 12 to 8 days. Repairing cavity jobs shrank from nearly a month to just under a week.
Robert Knecht, director of Public Works for the City of Memphis, immediately saw the value of this solution. "The ArcGIS Online apps have provided the ability for my Public Works crews to have access to important and needed information in the field, plus allowing work to be completed in the field using the Collector [for ArcGIS] app, while also making it possible for my management team to have access to that same information using the [Operations] Dashboard [for ArcGIS] tool; all of which have changed the way we work and deliver services to citizens. Using these apps, we have significantly enhanced productivity levels and the efficiency at delivering services, as we are now able to make decisions more quickly based on accurate and timely data. Ultimately, these ArcGIS Online apps are revolutionizing how Memphis Public Works is able to provide services, as increased productivity and accountability, implementing new sustainable practices, and using information in strategic ways have really made a difference in how we are able to operate. Given our success, we're now looking to roll out this capability to all areas of Public Works."
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