When the emergency was declared, Work Management Administrator Beth Cornelius set up a single work order in OpenGov. Workers were dispatched to inspect the damage and instructed to tie their tasks to that overarching work order.
This provided a single source for recording activity plans, time records, photographs, material usage, and other relevant data. With cost information attached, this also provided a real-time, total price tag of the disaster. “We looked at it daily and watched it grow very quickly,” says Cornelius.
“Given the magnitude of the storm, we had to have as much data and as many pictures as we could get,” says Benjamin Blanks, asset manager for Charleston County Public Works. “It wasn’t difficult, knowing we had one instrument in our hands that did it all.”
“We took a 3-month exercise and rolled it up in real time with the push of a button.”
One of the benefits of OpenGov, notes Blanks, is the ability to document before-and-after conditions. “We already had photos in the database of assets under normal, everyday conditions,” he says. “We could compare those against pictures of storm damage.” Workers also took photos at the beginning and end of each day to document cleanup and repair tasks accomplished, he adds.
In addition, engineering and storm water personnel conducted damage assessments to determine where temporary repairs were appropriate and what permanent repairs would be needed. All of this data was on hand when FEMA arrived to investigate the emergency. “I created reports for FEMA inspectors while they were here,” says Cornelius.
By using OpenGov’s disaster management software during flood cleanup and recovery, the county was able to send reports, photos, and time sheets to FEMA within 30 days. Blanks estimates that without the technology, it would have taken at least three months to put together the data required to apply for FEMA reimbursement.
“We would have had to take notes in the field, compile everything, and make corrections on paper,” says Blanks. “We would probably have four or five people entering the data into a database to expedite it.”
Instead, information was being updated and tracked on a daily basis and adjustments were easily made in the data capture process for FEMA reporting requirements.
“With our iPads and OpenGov [operation management software], it was basically instantaneous,” says Blanks. “We took a 3-month exercise and rolled it up in real time with the push of a button.”