Mobile GIS Transforms Operations at St. Johns County Utilities [Webinar] | Q & A’s

06-10-2016 10:34 AM

Mobile GIS Transforms Operations at St. Johns County Utilities [Webinar] | Q & A’s

Below you will find the questions and answers from the webinar, Mobile GIS Transforms Operations at St. Johns County Utilities.

  • Q1: I have a tech question about CityWorks capturing condition score and maintenance score, Can you briefly talk about it?
  • A1: We have adopted the tools within our Manholes and pre-treatment inspections.  We will revisit our scoring now that we have learned more from these initial settings. Cityworks stores an inspection, allowing questions to be answered and including responses such as good/fair/poor/failing/failed.  Behind the scenes, I assign numeric points based on each answer in the back end, and weigh each question.  They complete the inspection and the score is auto-calculated and assigned to the feature class. The inspection can get a score prorated 1-100 on highest versus lowest possible scores.  This could be further improved by modeling on the NASSCO MACP standards.  Maintenance activities can be given points.  We give points for preventative maintenance. These are designed and assigned behind the scenes, and auto-calculated.  For example, an inspection gives 5 points, a capital improvement rehab gives 100 points, etc. This score is cumulative.

  • Q2: When you say you "share the ArcGIS Online (AGOL) content" with your consultants/contractor/etc...Are they all part of your AGOL organization? Part of their own AGOL organization? Or not part of any AGOL organization?
  • A2: Since it is a secured service, they are part of our subscription’s allotted accounts.  I create a login for their access.

  • Q3: What is the population of your county and how many GIS people work for the county?
  • A3: This presentation was for the Water Utility Department, which serves 42,000 accounts and 100,000 residents.  We have 160 employees.  St. Johns County’s population is 210,000 (other water providers include City of St. Augustine and JEA).

  • Q4: Are your work orders separate for water meters or are they combined with other asset work orders?
  • A4: Mixed, based on maintenance need.  Our Meter shop has not migrated to Cityworks.  Paper tickets from our billing software are still created for them.  Meter repairs related to the housing and laterals are done in Cityworks with our Distribution Division.  We promote a project that turns billing software tasks into field Cityworks work orders, for completion, and then integrated back to the billing database. I’ve heard this is a typical split or integration.

  • Q5: How do your field crews convey assets found in field that do not match what is in the GIS. Do they utilize a field redline tool?
  • A5: Field staff make comments in the work orders and submit to our staff.  We are migrating to Redline tools once we are on Cityworks 2015.  We may also include the more detailed AGOL tools as an option for our more advanced staff.

  • Q6: Is the Cityworks program an extra cost on top of Esri ArcGIS?
  • A6: Yes, Cityworks is an Esri Platinum Partner.

  • Q7: Which template or templates were used in Web AppBuilder?
  • A7: In Web AppBuilder, typical options for layout. Additionally, we use a Story Map template, and Esri’s ArcGIS for Water Utilities Solutions template for water line breaks.

  • Q8: Considering the price of implementing Cityworks, how was the ROI assessed?
  • A8: St. John increase in population every year by fifty percent. In The 90’s we went from paper to GIS centric. The ROI was assessed from going to paper to digital. During the recession we were able to handle working with low staff resources and at the same time keeping up with the population growth due to the technology.

  • Q9: In the boil water example using the Code Red process, what does the customer receive? A phone call? or do they receive an email?
  • A9: Code Red provides a phone call and text messages. Not sure if an email option exists.

  • Q11: Could you speak more on the benefits and learning curve you saw from using Agile within your organization?
  • A11:  It was less intentional as much as it served the needs, and I’ll be reviewing this further to learn more.  AGILE reflected the needs of the natural elements the contracts and projects, whether due to the size of the projects being smaller, the technology being new and untested, or the internal assessments expected to adapt once the changes in procedures became apparent only after seeing the tools in place. AGILE benefits include:
      • Being able to run our own internal assessments and needs requirements, which incorporate more of our internal knowledge.
      • Ability to adapt along the way to create a more tailored fit to our utility and allow for process changes.
      • Technology changes very rapidly, and a contracted Needs Assessment followed by a Requirements, would be done on 1-2 versions prior to the version of the final release. 
      • Shorter time frame, with less turnover of Utility and contractor staff.

          The learning curve is ongoing, and as these projects complete, I evaluate my original goals and time frames with the project.  An AGILE project does not have as much formal planning, so at times through these projects staff and IT resources may not have had as much buy in or prioritization. This required ongoing commitment. Funding and contracts need to have contingency or ad-hoc billing to allow for unexpected issues, and to allow for spec-modifications.  It requires very strong time-management, and very good communication. 

  • Q13: What challenges did you face with training your field crews with the new technology?
  • A13: This will be a big component to reinforce field comfort levels.  Natural use of computers towards solutions is based more on the individual than the person. We’re continuing to adapt, and I foresee on-site one hour tutorials being best.  There’s always a resistance to change, however most don’t have that. The bigger focus is the transition period.  It takes time to transition (think of change being me hearing I need to cut my cholesterol, and transition is me ordering a salad instead of a burger; I believe the first, but struggle with the second).  We invest a lot of support time during the transition period, since if they don’t transition, the user goes back to not accepting change, very emphatically. Training is gradual and builds on itself.  We may have to adopt short videos as people learn differently than classic one day classes in the past.  Support is just as important.  A request for help should be a very high priority.  Essentially, it’s like a complaint, so we handle that immediately to retain user confidence.

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