GIS and Asset Management, an Effective Stormwater Planning Tool
The City of South Lake Tahoe GIS program has been evolving for several years. The recent addition of an Asset Management Program, including VUEWorks software, has opened the doors for new possibilities in stormwater planning and management by integrating GIS, Operations and Maintenance (O&M) field crews and the public. GIS can be used to easily identify FEMA Flood Zones and localized flooding areas, but many problem areas have gone unnoticed or unreported, and therefore, fall through the cracks. By integrating Asset Management software that allows the public to report concerns through a web portal, and also allows O&M field personnel to easily create work orders when they see a situation during their daily activities, GIS can effectively be utilized to quickly map and analyze localized flood issues for project planning.
The City’s GIS program began in 2010 and has continued to grow, but the lack of an Asset Management Program brought the disconnect between GIS Managers, Stormwater Managers and O&M field crews to the surface. Where are our assets? What condition are they in? Have new assets been installed? Who notifies the GIS Manager of new assets? When were the assets last maintained? How can we get citizen involvement to help identify problems and inform maintenance of these assets? These questions were becoming increasingly difficult to answer without a dedicated Asset Management software/program.
The City sought proposals for an Asset Management Software and eventually hired a consultant to install their product, VUEWorks, and integrate to the City’s current GIS system. Data collection occurred in two separate steps. First, the City’s GIS was configured to add all existing assets into the VUEworks system. Attributes were updated, As-Built drawings were digitized, and all assets were added to the Enterprise Geodatabase and published to the City’s GIS Server. Second, the consultant utilized a van equipped with numerous cameras to collect any assets that were not previously in GIS. With all assets collected and added to the Geodatabase, the focus turned to Service Requests and Work Orders.
Service Requests can be generated internally or by the public via the City’s website. Requests generated by the public proved extremely valuable during the floods of January and February 2017. During that period of several intense rain and snow events, 78 Service Requests were generated by the public specifically for drainage issues. VUEWorks allowed the City to easily generate a Work Order from the Service Requests and send O&M crews to the field to maintain an asset or to design an effective solution to a persisting issue.
Back in the office, VUEWorks allows the GIS Manager to easily track both Service Requests and Work Orders and tie them back to assets. Many of the Service Requests are in similar locations, and a single asset may receive multiple Service Requests. Locations such as these can be flagged and the GIS Manager can cross reference this information with known flooding/problem areas. By mapping known problem areas that receive multiple Service Requests, the Stormwater Manager now has ammunition to bring to high level meetings with upper management to justify stormwater projects in those locations.
By integrating GIS and Asset Management, the Stormwater Manager now has a bridge between GIS data and project management. Allowing the public to quickly and easily submit Service Requests online and allowing field crews to be the eyes and ears during their response, coupled with mapping capabilities and tracking software, Stormwater Managers now have an reliable link between the data and what is happening on the ground, enabling them to make quick decisions in the short term while utilizing that same information for long term water quality planning.
Eric Friedlander is the GIS Analyst for the City of South Lake Tahoe. Eric has been with the City for the past 8 years and has also served as the Environmental Programs Analyst from 2010 through 2012 and the Acting Stormwater Coordinator from 2012 to 2013. As the GIS Analyst, Eric has built a successful GIS program that serves all City Departments based on the ESRI Enterprise Platform, which includes Desktop GIS, ArcGIS Online, field data collection and web mapping applications. He was instrumental in bringing Asset Management to the Public Works Department and currently serves as the GIS Administrator of VUEWorks Asset Management System.
Eric has a Bachelor’s degree in Geology from Humboldt State University and an Associate’s degree in GIS from Western Nevada College. He is currently working toward a Professional Concentration Certification from U.C. Davis.