The first step, according to Asset Management Program Manager Chet Hagen, was to improve the county’s GIS. His team conducted a mobile scan to collect the necessary data—in particular, their signs, street lights, and supports data. Hagen knew that a new system could help produce more meaning and operational efficiency from the data, so the team began exploring different solutions.
In the summer of 2015, the county evaluated OpenGov, and found that the tech could meet all their needs: an easy-to-use interface, a mobile app, cloud-based connectivity, and an interconnection with Esri GIS data. They kicked off a relationship with OpenGov in their traffic aids group, managing signs and pavement markings.
“We had modest goals in the beginning,” says Hagen. “We would set all of our signs on some sort of inspection and replacement schedule. We were able to accomplish that immediately with OpenGov.”
With new insights, Multnomah County began changing the frequency of maintenance, now able to make better decisions based on the magnitude of a repair need instead of just an arbitrary, time-based one. Soon, the county began adopting similar programs to optimize their assets on culverts and roads.
“We’ve got reports at people’s fingertips and are thinking about data in a different way.”
This led to new efficiencies—such as confirming citizen requests with a simple field visit and a OpenGov-equipped iPad to record details. And, after the initial scan and data organization, the team could now create a regular process to assess and rate asset conditions. Clear metrics allowed the team to prioritize repair, rehab, or replacement in one screen.
Prior to working with OpenGov, the asset management department used a financial system in which only a handful of employees could develop reports.
“Now, we’ve got reports at people’s fingertips—and they are thinking about data in a different way,” says Hagen. “The team used to have a nice pile of paper at any given time, but with OpenGov they’ve reduced their paper to zero, which was a huge improvement. Now, they know where every single sign is.”
The days of relying on mental math and memory are long gone. Now, the team can rely on data and reports that lived in a centralized database.
“It’s really allowed the team to communicate the volume of work they’re doing, and also figure out how much expenditure we’ll have to replace our signs and maintain them for future years while working with our budget team.”
Multnomah has since won a county-wide innovation award for its operational efficiencies and is striving to make continual improvements in its use of data and technology for a range of decision-making and planning—including compliance with Keep Oregon Moving (HB 2017).
“In order to be a high-performing organization, you have to use the data and the tools that are available to you to inform the decisions that you make,” says Hagen. “If you can do that, then there’s a good chance that you can align yourself with the needs of the citizens and constituents that you serve.”