By: Tom Tibbitts, GIS Manager, St. Johns County Utilities
St. Johns County Utilities is a growing medium-sized water and sewer utility serving 45,000 accounts and 110,000 customers in coastal Northeast Florida. The recent surge of technology in utilities has helped meet its goals of strong customer service, fiscal strength, and environmental stewardship. The GIS Division has transitioned from only tracking and displaying assets with GIS to managing operations and planning through mobile GIS and live data. This has allowed St. Johns County Utilities to manage its water and sewer systems with a high level of service to the rapidly growing population.
One of the newest technologies supporting the utility is Insights for ArcGIS integrated with Cityworks Analytics. This has opened doors for St. Johns County Utilities to expand the use of asset management data to support business-related decisions. Insights provides a mobile, collaborative platform that engages analysis and encourages data exploration. St. Johns County Utilities realized that Insights and Analytics could walk through questions such as "What maintenance and repairs are done at treatment plants" and "What warehouse materials are used in the repair?" and "Insights was also used to allocate funds for manhole rehabilitation based on inspections, rehab costs, and at-risk characteristics".
Insights for ArcGIS workbooks were developed to explore and discover trends and details within the asset management and GIS databases. The workbooks are templates that are imported from Cityworks Analytics models built within Insights for ArcGIS. Having the data in Insights for ArcGIS provided powerful analysis that could be shared. Insights was used in a discovery workshop with Gordon Smith, assistant director of Utilities for Operations and Engineering. During this workshop, Insights performed analysis on the fly and answered questions in real time about treatment plant maintenance and repairs. Smith was able to view data in multiple ways by using filters, charts, graphs, and more. The dynamic and engaging nature of Insights was clear. Smith found that "access to the data and real-time analysis helped to address concerns and provided the ability to manage the treatment plants using relevant information." This exercise also provided the framework for further questions and workbooks to help him review treatment plant maintenance activities.
The successful workshop led to using Insights to help review manhole, sewer main, and capital rehabilitation projects by Operations and Engineering and Finance staff to help prioritize projects for budgeting needs. "With Insights, data turns into shareable knowledge and live visuals, promoting awareness and understanding of projects by our CIP [capital improvement program] staff," said James Galley, senior financial analyst. Insights for ArcGIS and analytics quickly identified the greatest area of need for manhole funding in the utility's service area. This early success has encouraged the use of Insights as a successful planning tool for our Administration and Purchasing Division.
Engaging with the data using Insights for ArcGIS provided staff with a powerful tool that encouraged a depth of analysis and discovery. Staff quickly connected with this new option and used data to help make business decisions. With the initial success, St. Johns County has created four focused workbooks:
· Treatment plant maintenance and repair activities to determine cost projections, productivity, and inventory. The Maintenance Division will be able to track and manage their workload at each facility with current staff levels.
· Rehabilitation projects for manholes and sewer mains, including material, age, and dates to analyze progress; additionally, reviewing at-risk manholes and mains to help identify where the needs are for further rehabilitation projects and help prioritize funding for where it is needed
· Material stock quantities, frequency of use, quantity of use, and other elements of a material velocity report; additionally, review the various storerooms and frequency of issues, transfers, and returns to help new warehouse staff get up to speed on the utility warehouse materials and purchasing
· Capital improvement projects for reviewing current, future, and projected capital projects to create an open process and establish clear objectives, prioritize projects, and provide an awareness of progress and results
Insights workbooks provide the needed information and encourage analysis. Building workbooks within Insights saves staff considerable time and provides the end users with more in-depth analysis in a simple process. The depth of the data readily available through simple analysis is a new and great opportunity. The levels of analysis and deeper navigation into the data encourage better data-driven management decisions. Training workshops with GIS staff will ensure that St. Johns County Utilities leverages insightful records to make cost-effective decisions.
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