ArcNews Online

Fall 2006

City of Phoenix Street Transportation Department Invests Significantly in GIS Technology

Enterprise Resource Implementation Through Esri GIS and SAP ERP

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SAP Plant Maintenance Model screen with the custom map button.

The City of Phoenix, Arizona (like its legendary namesake), has risen from the ashes of the ancient Hohokam Indian settlement to become the fifth largest city in the United States. It is one of the nation's three fastest-growing cities with a population of nearly 1.4 million anchoring a surrounding population base of 3.5 million.

Managing the transportation needs of a large population base is difficult at best in any environment. In Phoenix, it is more than challenging. The City of Phoenix contends with its own unique characteristics, which to Phoenicians make Phoenix like no where else to live, unless of course you are the city's Street Transportation Department and are responsible for a host of challenges in the desert environment. In addition to Phoenix's rapid population growth, its more than 300 days of sun each year attract more than 12 million tourists annually. Snarled traffic, ongoing pollution alerts, extended commutes, and significant new construction combined with older infrastructure all add to the pressure. The City of Phoenix Street Transportation Department is meeting the challenge head-on through a complex proactive initiative that will allow Phoenix to continue to evolve with the changing needs of the city. As part of that initiative, the Street Transportation Department has implemented an asset management system that integrates enterprise resource planning (ERP) with GIS.

Following a detailed selection process, the Street Transportation Department chose Esri Business Partner CyberTech Systems and Software as the city's consultant in integrating Esri's GIS with SAP ERP and in helping create a road map for an implementation of Esri software as an enterprise resource. This plan included the study of legacy systems that would be replaced by SAP and Esri technologies. Working with the Street Transportation Department IT team led by Gordon Guge and the city SAP team led by Susan Perkins, CyberTech submitted a three-year road map for implementing SAP and Esri software in the Street Transportation Department. The road map highlighted the importance of implementing SAP and Esri software across the department and integrating the two powerful technologies to help improve the department's operational efficiencies, leveraging each technology for the value that it provides. ArcGIS Desktop, ArcIMS, and ArcSDE software products were used to develop custom applications for the collection, conversion, maintenance, and analysis of data.

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Custom intranet application for the signal shop division.

The city has been using SAP, an enterprise resource planning software package, to manage its finances and assets since 1998. The SAP Plant Maintenance module was selected by the Street Transportation Department for asset maintenance management because it provided specific construction, maintenance, and tracking functionality. A geographic interface was incorporated because street assets are maintained as part of the public right-of-way, and GIS offers a uniquely efficient way of searching, viewing, and analyzing data. The literal translation of an old Chinese proverb states that "a picture is worth 10,000 words." Similarly, integrating SAP software with Esri software provides the ability to view, query, and analyze asset information and produce graphs, maps, charts, and so forth. Analysis of SAP data is further enhanced by presenting the information via a map, facilitating the geographic analysis of data.

A major objective of the Street Transportation Department is to provide a means for the integration of disparate right-of-way and street data. Using a variety of Esri software products and these interfaces, the right-of-way objects and events are located relative to a position along the street network. Using this integration framework, applications can be developed to track department infrastructure and operations, as well as facilitate improved workflows and decision-making activities.

The Street Transportation Department's SAP integration with ArcIMS software makes spatial information accessible and useful to users across all business areas of the department. This department-wide GIS is a collaboration of project, divisional, enterprise, and public access GIS implementations and is organized into five application areas including bridge management, street management, traffic signal management, storm drain management, and streetlighting management. These application areas provide a general business context for accessing spatial data using the Esri GIS functions.

The SAP Plant Maintenance implementation for maintaining the nearly 1,000 traffic signals in Phoenix is operational. Users can immediately view the location of a signal work order on a map through SAP. Construction and maintenance SAP work order data can be accessed through the Esri GIS. Additionally, functionality has also been added to the department's ArcIMS intranet application, allowing users to retrieve work orders directly from SAP.

Robust City Data Architecture

Esri GIS database and integration capabilities are uniquely suited to this application, as the synthesis of data in this project is complex. For example, any single piece of data may be recognized in many disparate databases. The collection, along with the maintenance, of spatial data is the largest single cost associated with the GIS implementation. The spatial data of interest to the city falls into four logical groups; for example, storm drain data may need to be captured as geographic data, which is the common reference framework and includes right-of-way, street centerlines, natural features, and political boundaries; infrastructure and utilities data; operational data, which provides spatial locations for various types of installation and maintenance activities; and land-use and development data, which provides information for the management and utilization of land and natural resources within the city. It includes zoning designations, development boundaries, city-owned lands, and environmentally significant features.

Pragmatic Implementation Approach

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Count of SAP Work Orders corresponding to area specified on the map.

Highly cognizant of the city's fiscal responsibilities and limited budget, a prudent and flexible implementation approach was developed, balancing key business drivers with available resources while allowing the city to meet its obligations to the public. To shorten the timeline and increase efficiency, the implementation schedule overlays three parallel efforts consisting of data collection and conversion of the Street Transportation Department's GIS database; data maintenance application development that will allow the city to maintain the GIS database; and GIS application development, design, and implementation that apply the GIS database to the department's business processes.

Components of each of these efforts, together with the implementation of SAP, are allocated in stages. Each stage delivers a part of the asset management application set that applies the data model and is incremental, building on the work done in the prior stage.

Expected Benefits

As a result of the teamwork between the City of Phoenix, CyberTech, SAP, and Esri, the city expects to improve the management of the right-of-way assets through the geospatial coordination of the location of the growing infrastructure, and associated elements and attributes assist in ensuring that these assets are properly maintained. Enhancing the analysis of changing traffic and infrastructure demands will help the Street Transportation Department identify and prioritize construction and maintenance efforts.

Most important to the City of Phoenix is improved citizen services. With integrated street and services information that incorporates displays and reports enhanced with maps, the city can more effectively provide quicker and more coordinated responses to queries from its citizens. By analyzing service requests within geographic areas, the Street Transportation Department will better match services to community needs.

More Information

For more information, contact Gordon Guge, IT manager, Street Transportation Department, City of Phoenix (e-mail:; Mike Youngs, GIS analyst/programmer II, Street Transportation Department, City of Phoenix (e-mail:; or Tom Rieckhoff, SAP Team, Finance Department, City of Phoenix (e-mail:

See also "Aspects of Esri-SAP Integration at the City of Phoenix Street Transportation Department."

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