Town Adds GIS Application to Increase Diversity of Bids
Flower Mound is located 10 miles northwest of Dallas, covers 45 square miles, and has a population close to 80,000 people. The parks and recreation department is responsible for the maintenance of 57 parks, 60 miles of trails, and over 40 miles of medians and rights-of-way. To assist in the bidding process for a landscape maintenance contract, the department asked the town's geographic information system (GIS) department to compile data points like the square footage of each site, total quadrant estimates, and the type of work each site needs—whether it's mowing or landscape maintenance—to assist vendors when estimating the amount of work required under the contract.
When the town personnel would send out a request for proposals for Flower Mound's landscape maintenance contract, multiple contractors would bid without full knowledge of the scope of work. Because of this, the bidding process was not competitive. Year after year, one vendor would receive the $900,000 contract because that vendor was most familiar with the process, work locations, and type of work to be completed. This showed a need for the town to create a clear way to display all the information potential vendors would need so that they could offer more competitive bids.
Staff used computer-aided design (CAD) tools to draw paper-based maps to send to contractors, a process that was inefficient and time-consuming and used maps that were not easily updated. This meant potential contractors were viewing crucial geographic information that was often inaccurate and outdated. Additionally, each time the project was put out to bid, the town's parks supervisor would have to provide time-consuming guided tours throughout the town to over a hundred landscape work sites.
Staff at the town wanted their contracting processes improved and expanded to save money and time on staff resources, like guided tours or the duplication of printed materials. The GIS and parks and recreation departments collaborated to build the Town of Flower Mound Landscape Maintenance app, a custom web application built using GIS technology.
"We needed a software that had the tools and models available so we could create the processing that was needed to go through different layers of areas of interest and eliminate sidewalks, pavements, and building footprints, while creating multiple buffer layers along walking paths," said Dwight Nield, senior GIS analyst at the Town of Flower Mound.
The landscape maintenance application is a mobile device-friendly, cloud-based app. It combines GIS software ArcGIS Online, ArcGIS Pro, and ModelBuilder to organize data in an easily shareable format that displays land area, location, and details of the scope of work. Estimating the amount of work to facilitate the bidding process is made simple, as vendors can download data layers of the entire town, certain quadrants, or individual sites.
With the GIS application in place, the town was able to receive multiple competitive bids that were much closer in cost, ultimately saving the town money. The app displayed layers so that contractors could visualize the exact square footage of the areas they were bidding on.
The landscape maintenance app was launched in February 2023 to a receptive audience, receiving over 2,000 views by the public, potential contractors, and other departments within the town's organization.
The app has also been used as a tool for the current vendor as it hires new crew leaders and staff. The crew leaders can search locations to verify all areas are being serviced correctly. Staff have received many compliments from the vendor's management team on how the app continues to be a helpful resource.
The GIS and parks and recreation departments have seen other departments adapting similar geospatial frameworks to address challenges and customer complaints.
"We've shared this tool with our code enforcement and customer service divisions too. They can look at the map to determine what department needs to resolve an issue," said Clayton Litton, Flower Mound's parks superintendent.