The city explored operations management system options and chose the OpenGov software. “The ability to tie in to a web-based system that’s accessible on devices in the field made the decision process easy,” says Lancaster’s GIS coordinator Scott Snider. Lancaster started by rolling out the software in three departments: municipal gas, transportation, and code enforcement.
The municipal gas department configured OpenGov to comply with the state public utilities commission’s annual audit requirements. “They’ve built in all the fields they need for their reports and tailored forms for eight different job functions,” says Snider.
Crews use the software to categorize gas leaks by severity, attaching appropriate re-inspection intervals and mitigation tasks. Inspectors can rank a leak, track its progression, and document repairs in real-time for audit purposes.
Gas workers enter barcodes into their iPads for every piece of equipment as it is installed. “Previously, crews would write on paper that they used this many couplings of this type and record all the numbers,” says Snider. “Then that would have to be entered into Access.”
Before OpenGov, only hourly rates and fuel expenses were charged back, according to Snider. Now the transportation department can accurately track equipment and materials usage and factor in indirect costs such as employee benefits.
“It was a real eye opener for us when we started charging FEMA rates to pothole repairs.”
The transportation department handles everything from potholes and street sweeping to culverts and basins. Stormwater-related tasks are billed back to the stormwater department, which focuses on administration rather than field repairs.
The code enforcement division set up a library of code violations in OpenGov. The utility billing system, which identifies property owners, was integrated with government GIS to generate data for citations. When a violation is found, the inspector accesses the library to specify the applicable code.
They use OpenGov to create a citation, which is time stamped and attached to the task electronically, and a printout is sent to the property owner. Each violation in the library carries a required time frame for re-inspection and reminders pop up on the iPad. Before-and-after photos can be attached to the report.
In addition to streamlining workflow, a key benefit of using OpenGov is knowing the exact cost of each task and being able to justify expenses and funding requests. For example, “it was a real eye opener for us when we started charging FEMA rates to pothole repairs,” says Snider.
The integration between OpenGov and the ArcGIS platform provides other advantages:
Signalized intersections were managed only in OpenGov until a need arose to see the data in ArcGIS, too. “We already had all the intersections recorded in OpenGov and it was easy to push the data over to GIS,” says Snider.
When conducting inspections or repairs, sign crews can use OpenGov to easily modify street sign information that was previously documented through orthophotography. Those updates are synced in real-time with ArcGIS to keep both databases current.
When installing assets, gas crews previously needed GIS technicians on-hand to record highly accurate GPS readings. Now they can capture rough coordinates via OpenGov for iPad. GIS technicians can easily make adjustments if needed.