San Diego's Pothole-Busting ERP/GIS Integration

Streets Department Integrates GIS with SAP/ERP

The integration of ERP systems with GIS systems expands the functionality and value of bothIt's not as easy as you think. Managing street infrastructure, including scheduling, inventory, and work order management, especially during rainy seasons and times of bad weather, can lead to the best of city street managers working furiously to stay on top of things. Yet the City of San Diego is making it look easy. One of the first cities to take advantage of injecting GIS into the enterprise resource planning (ERP) bloodstream, San Diego's Street Maintenance Division is using spatial data in new and exciting ways including how it manages its street infrastructure.

"The integration of ERP systems with GIS systems expands the functionality and value of both by leveraging existing corporate data assets and extending the kinds of applications that can use them," says Steve Benner, director, Esri Business Partner Program. "San Diego, which has been a leader in GIS for years, understood this early and quickly adopted a strategy for implementing an integrated solution."

"What we want to do is to leverage how we use spatial data in an enterprise environment," says Elizabeth Mueller, project manager, San Diego Street Maintenance Division. "By integrating these two previously disparate systems, we can improve productivity, increase efficiency, and make better decisions in our day-to-day operations."

San Diego Street Maintenance Division

With 363 employees and seven million dollars in contracts, the City of San Diego Streets Department maintains 3,000 miles of street with more than 3,700 miles of sidewalk. Over the past four years the Street Division's responsibilities have significantly increased. The division is now responsible for the operation and maintenance of streets, sidewalks, street trees, storm drain pipes and channels, storm drain pump stations, stormwater pollution control, traffic and street name signs, streetlights, traffic signals, street sweeping, bridges, fences, alleys, and guardrails. With well over one million people in the rapidly growing City of San Diego, making sure the City provides for the safe movement of people, vehicles, and goods over the City streets can be a challenge.

San Diego's Street Maintenance Division is using spatial data to manage its street infrastructureTo address this and other challenges, San Diego has used new technology. The City began using GIS in the 1970s to digitize the region's geography. In fact, the City formed the San Diego Geographic Information Source (SANGIS) in 1984, which maintains an enormous amount of spatial data--50 gigabytes worth--that is used throughout the City and County of San Diego. However, a system that could use this base source of information was still needed by the Street Division.

In the past, most of the 15 types of data inventories comprising more than 900,000 individual objects were not kept in a usable form. Those systems that did exist were an uncoordinated combination of mainframe, manual, and paper-based systems. The division relied heavily on personal work knowledge of the road infrastructure. These methods were more suitable to the 31st largest city in the United States in 1950, but the City has nearly quadrupled in size since then to become the sixth largest city in the United States 40 years later. The databases and applications that were deployed in the department were not integrated, making data collection for any particular problem a timely process.

For example, during the El Niño storms of early 1998 and the cleanup that followed, the Street Division was forced to register requests for service on paper because the number of calls received in a single day exceeded the mainframe's ability to display, print, and respond to them. Locating and prioritizing the most urgent work locations was nearly impossible. Work crews responding to a service request would often find that the inventory item reported did not exist at the reported location, or that another crew had already been there and fixed it, or worse, that the location did not even exist (like the reported intersection of two parallel streets). With an estimated 18 percent of all service calls experiencing difficulty because of these issues, the division was losing time equivalent to a staff of 25 workers. The Street Division needed to find new ways for managing information.


To address these issues, the division has begun a comprehensive synergy project. A major portion of this project is to use advanced Esri GIS and SAP software to improve service. With the help of SAP implementers Conley, Canitano & Associates Inc. (CCAI), the division has begun to use SAP R/3 to integrate various Business processes. Due to the geographical nature of street inventory items, the need existed to integrate its data in the SAP R/3 system with the existing spatial data. To accomplish this goal CCAI has partnered with Esri. Together they are creating a seamless system that combines the strong management components of SAP and the spatial software of Esri to work together to create a system that provides more useful information to the division than either could provide alone.

By integrating GIS and SAP, the streets department improves productivity and increases efficiencyUsing ArcView GIS software and MapObjects software, the Street Division integrated its GIS with SAP's Plant Maintenance and Service Management applications. This means that digital map information, combined with asset information stored in SAP, can be viewed and queried quickly and easily, giving users a powerful and flexible solution to meet their needs. In addition, location and data that originally existed only as multiple GIS layers were spatially combined to create base data for the SAP system.

Service to the public is improved as supervisors and dispatchers are able to quickly and accurately verify the location of inventory items and determine the history and status of planned repairs visually using desktop GIS with "drill-down" or information access to SAP R/3 software.

For customer service calls, users can query for repeated requests and inform callers of the planned dates for repair. For work management, field crews will be scheduled more accurately based on the crews' capabilities. For instance, before a work order is assigned, data on crew skills can be evaluated to ensure the job is assigned correctly. In addition, the proximity of related work requests can be analyzed to assign other jobs that are within a given logistical radius. Assignment of routine maintenance will be automatically generated.

In addition to improved resource utilization and better customer service, data can be made more readily accessible within the Street Division or to the public.

"The system allows the Street Division to quickly detect efficiency or response time problems, to accurately measure performance-based budget success, and to access and present data that is often requested but has not been available," says Jonathan Levy, deputy director, San Diego Street Maintenance Division. "The result is better, more reliable service, and that is the ultimate goal."

For more information contact Elizabeth Mueller, San Diego Street Maintenance Division (tel.: 619-527-7516, E-mail:

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