Spanish Fork, Utah

Case Study

“The accuracy of the information gathered increased exponentially.” – Ryan Baum

ESRI, SPANISH FORK, AND UTILISYNC

ArcNews provides all that’s new, exciting, beneficial, and unique about GIS directly from users. In Fall of 2018, the Public Works and GIS Departments in the City of Spanish Fork were highlighted with an article that explained how the field crews now use UtiliSync and other Esri products to complete inspections and track development reviews. Click HERE to read more.

INTRODUCTION

Spanish Fork has always attempted to be at the forefront of GIS implementation in the state of Utah. Going back as early as 1995, the City began investing in GIS as a tool to better help them manage the Public Works department. The GIS-centric approach was adopted quickly in the office, yet was slow to be embraced by field personnel. This allowed the City to enjoy some of the benefits of a GIC-centric approach, but they were still stuck dealing with paper forms and manual data compilation, resulting in a lot of busy work. Two areas where the City really struggled was tracking maintenance activities on their wastewater collection system and tracking development review.

THE CHALLENGE

Maintenance is a critical component in keeping a wastewater collection system running smoothly. The City has areas that need to be cleaned weekly, monthly, every 6 months, and yearly. The inspectors did the best they could to remember which lines needed to be cleaned more frequently than others. Often they would be jetting and flushing the lines in one area and then get distracted or be summoned to work in another location. When they returned to their cleaning activities, they were unable to remember if they had flushed a particular line. They would also try to note on paper which lines they had worked on and transfer the information to a large map using highlighters. The system was far from perfect and was not viewed as very reliable.Development review was another critical area where the City struggled to keep organized. As with most cities, a developer would submit plans for various reviews (e.g. “Preliminary Plat Review”, “Final Plat Review”, “Site Plan Approval”), which would require the review of multiple departments at the City. Once the development was approved for construction, it was important for the office staff and field crews to communicate the various stages of construction (e.g. “Pre-Construction Meeting”, “Daily Inspections”, “Final Walk Through”). When a project was in the construction phase, it was the responsibility of the field crews to track the time they spent on each job as the City would bill the developer for that time. Some of the information was stored in GIS, but most of the communication was made using cumbersome paper forms. Because the information was tracked using paper, it was hard to keep the City Council, building department, and City Manager up-to-date with the latest information. Inspectors would always try to start a new inspection with the results of the most recent inspection, but sometimes the many stacks of papers in the truck would get swapped and the wrong inspection would be used. The inspector also had a hard time tracking which was the most current review because sometimes corrections were made and they were never told. They would rely on the contractor to follow them around to track which areas had been surveyed and inspected.

THE SOLUTION

The key to the success of Spanish Fork truly getting GIS-centric was finding a way for the crews to enter data real-time in the field. This came in 2 flavors: Collector for ArcGIS and UtiliSync. The City likes the ease of use of Collector, and it is the app of choice when they just need to update an GIS attribute. For example, now, when a field crew jets a wastewater collection line, they are able to use Collector for ArcGIS to quickly update the date flushed, who performed the work, add notes if needed, as well as note if the map needs updating. The data is all saved to a related table. The City has a custom script to run every night and update the main feature table with the “date flushed” field. This allows them to both save multiple cleanings to a feature and to color-code the pipes by the date they were last flushed. The inspectors now rely on the color of the pipe to know where they have been and what they need to clean next.
UtiliSync is the field data collect app of choice when the City needs documentation of the work being performed. For example, the entire development review process is documented using UtiliSync. The City creates a polygon or polyline for each construction project in the City. They use UtiliSync to attach forms (e.g. “Preliminary Plat Review”, “Final Plat Review”, “Daily Inspections”) to those GIS objects. The user completes the forms for the development and UtiliSync automatically creates PDF’s of the completed forms, saves them to an archive, emails them to a dynamic email list and updates the GIS attributes.