Apps Improve Workflows for Southern River City
The city of North Augusta, South Carolina—home to 22,000 residents—is a 21-square-mile area with a southwestern border defined by the Savannah River. The city's geographic information system (GIS) department supports the mapping and geospatial needs of multiple departments that cumulatively have 244 full-time employees, many of whom work in the field. Seeking a modernized approach to replace North Augusta's cumbersome City-wide Action Tracking System (CATS) for coordinating constituent calls for services, city GIS analyst Kevin Whaley sought a modern, digital solution to manage field service assignments.
City of North Augusta, South Carolina
Replacing an inefficient system and cumbersome processes for managing fieldwork
ArcGIS Online, Workforce for ArcGIS, Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS
Achieved increased productivity and data accuracy and greater control over planning and day-to-day operations
Coordinating constituent requests for utility service through CATS required each call to be entered into multiple systems and a paper work order to be printed. This system was inefficient and did not afford flexibility for easily responding to calls that required urgent response. Further, data from paper work orders had to be transcribed and entered into the system. There was a delay between work being done and the data being visible, plus there were data accuracy issues from transcribing handwritten information. Workers sometimes had to make multiple trips a day to the office to pick up and drop off work orders, which was costly in terms of productivity and fuel.
Whaley knew of Workforce for ArcGIS, an application to manage fieldwork, from attending a regional GIS user group meeting. At his request, the city's Esri account manager demonstrated the solution to the utility department director, supervisors, and dispatcher. A simple project scenario that used the city's digital map, with its utility layers, showed them how the data could be used effectively in Workforce for ArcGIS and motivated them to request that it be implemented as quickly as possible. Whaley worked closely with utility department stakeholders to understand their requirements and processes, then used that information to design a schema for the department's first Workforce project.
The utility department dispatcher was able to easily assign work through a digital process that enabled fieldworkers to receive assignments on their city-issued mobile phones and tablets instead of on paper work orders. As they completed one assignment and went to the next, workers were able to report their status to the dispatcher. When a constituent called in with an urgent need, the dispatcher could now enter the assignment in the system, fill it out, and assign it to a fieldworker before hanging up the phone. Workforce provided a map that showed each worker's location and availability status, so the nearest available worker could be easily identified and dispatched.
There was a great deal of excitement over the increased productivity and data accuracy achieved by using Workforce for ArcGIS. Whaley created an executive dashboard using Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS, helping directors and supervisors monitor progress of field activities. The dashboard displayed the Workforce data with helpful visualizations, such as gauges and bar charts that compared data by week, month, quarter, and year, enabling greater control over planning and day-to-day operations.
Using Workforce for ArcGIS on their phones and tablets gave fieldworkers a streamlined work order process. In addition, they gained a reliable map of the utility network that was more accurate than the previous paper maps. When updates to the map are made, workers see the updates in real time, so they are always working with the most current city maps and data. Now, fieldworkers are champions of the new digital system.
Since implementing Workforce for ArcGIS, there has been a huge increase in the volume of data the city has collected. Whaley knows they are just scratching the surface of how GIS will be used to enhance the quality of life in North Augusta.