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Implementing an Integrated Esri/SAP System
City of San Diego, California, Takes Enterprise Management to the Field
For years, government agencies across San Diego County, California, have been at the forefront of using GIS to better serve their communities. In 1999, the Street Division of the City of San Diego's General Services Department pioneered the implementation of an integrated Esri/SAP system called SYNERGY. What started as a system for asset and work management in a single city division has now grown into a large integrated system that is being used by other city divisions and departments.
The City of San Diego is located in Southern California and is the eighth largest city in the United States. The city's economy is largely supported by dynamic modern industries. Growing from the city's world-renowned academic institutions are biotechnology/biosciences, computer sciences, electronics development and manufacturing, and software development that have helped diversify the city's economic base. Those industries join defense-related manufacturing, financial and business services, ship repair and construction, telecommunications, agriculture, and tourism to form the core of the city's economy and employment base.
Even as the city copes with the impact of the global financial crisis, maintaining the infrastructure serving these businesses while also supporting the needs of city residents has remained a priority for the city's mayor, Jerry Sanders. "When I took office, the city didn't have a good inventory of its asset management needs," says Sanders. "We knew we needed to get a better handle on our tracking systems and the way we managed our asset data. Thankfully, we had some forward-thinking team members who were ready to accept my call for greater accountability and efficiency."
Intranet Empowers Employees
Initially, Project SYNERGY helped city employees track asset locations and the status of service requests using an intranet application. The project was completed with the development of a work management interface. GIS capabilities allowed users to quickly locate work order sites, track work order status, and perform spatial queries to create digital maps. As one example, an employee in the Water Utilities Division could locate a work request sent to the Street Division on a digital map, then click on the work site icon to view related information and completion status.
Internet Serves Citizens
Employees also provide online customer service to citizens using advanced GIS Internet applications. This advanced system allows citizens to report infrastructure issues and problems to the city throughout the day, helping staff keep task lists and job priorities current. Users have the option of locating assets by address, ZIP Code, or community. After an asset of work concern is located on the digital map, users can pull down a menu to request service and add additional information. The system then provides a service notification number that can be used to check the status of the request. Once the work order is complete, a status update is automatically sent to the citizen via e-mail. Customer service representatives answering calls from citizens also use GIS to verify the asset's location before generating work orders.
Sweeping Changes with GPS
In 2003, GPS devices were added to the city's street sweepers, allowing their routing and operations to be managed by the integrated system. This system allows the city's Storm Water Department, responsible for sweeper operations, to capture and retain information such as the date and time that specific locations were swept, where and when the sweeper brushes were lowered and raised, where and when water was applied to assist the sweeping, and other information pertinent to the street sweeping operations. When residents call, employees can check a digital map and obtain detailed information regarding past sweeping operations, often heading off or quickly managing questions and complaints, saving the city time and increasing goodwill.
In 2007, Project SYNERGY's enterprise systems were enhanced and upgraded to SAP ECC 6 and ArcGIS 9.2. After completion of the upgrade, San Diego's integrated system was ready for the next big challenge—accessing the enterprise asset management system from the field.
Today, with the implementation of SAP's Mobile Infrastructure module and ArcGIS Server and ArcGIS Mobile software, the city is realizing its vision of carrying out asset management activities in the field. Tasks such as creating, viewing, and updating SAP service notifications and work orders are being completed in real time by field staff using a map interface. This system's continuing improvement will greatly enhance the overall efficiency of the city's business processes.
"We have come a long way since we first integrated Esri and SAP technologies to leverage our GIS resources within the SAP framework," says Elizabeth Mueller, San Diego Public Works enterprise asset management project manager, who is now leading the way for other departments and divisions within the city to leverage the successfully integrated Esri/SAP system for their operations. "We believe in empowering the city employees with the right tools to help provide excellent customer service to our citizens. Our aim is to get it right the first time, and get better at it.
"The capacity to visualize and analyze information geographically is now available to anyone using the Web application," continues Mueller. "In addition to helping different divisions share information efficiently, it helps them respond more quickly to requests from residents because they'll have quicker access to information stored online. With the combined capabilities of Esri and SAP technology, we're seeing a future of efficiency, cooperation, and improved records management. In addition, it provides more transparency and accountability, something that is well appreciated by the employees who are continually striving to provide the citizens with a high level of customer service."
Extending the Footprint
Now, with its proven success in the Street Division, the city has decided to extend its Esri and SAP integrated system to other departments and divisions. The program is making its way into the Storm Water Pollution Prevention, Storm Water Operations and Maintenance, Facilities Maintenance, Fleet Maintenance, and Communications divisions. All have started implementing and extending the functionalities of SYNERGY for their operations. Future implementations will include the city's water and sewer operations and maintenance functions.
"At its core, public works is an asset management business," says David Jarrell, San Diego's deputy chief operating officer for Public Works. "The SYNERGY system, leveraging the tremendous capabilities of both Esri and SAP technologies, allows the city to make a great leap forward in the management of our assets. We have proven the SYNERGY concept within our Street Division and are now aggressively implementing the system for our other public infrastructure assets. The result promises to be an unsurpassed asset management tool for our employees and citizens. And we expect to see even greater system benefits upon completion of the implementation of the SAP enterprise resource planning system for the city's financial, logistics, and human resources functions."
This project, a comprehensive effort geared toward maintaining the city's progress in reforming and modernizing information systems throughout the agency, is called OneSD. When launched later this year, OneSD will provide city departments (including the central departments for financial and human resources) with the ability to consolidate asset and work management functions with costing and manpower availability and allocation using an integrated system.
"The City of San Diego's vision for the information technology system is to deliver best value services through the creative use of technology," says Nader Tirandazi, the city's director of financial management. "We have already realized that vision time and time again, one piece at a time, and we continue to evolve our systems to support the services that impact our community and its citizens."
"We are all very pleased with our successes to date," adds Mueller. "I also think that by partnering with Esri, SAP, and our integration consultant Smartsoft, we're poised for even greater success in the future."
For more information, contact Elizabeth Mueller, EAM project manager, Public Works, City of San Diego (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).