City to deploy GIS technology

2011-10-06T16:36:00Z 2011-10-06T16:40:33Z City to deploy GIS technologyCHANTAL M. LOVELL Napa Valley Register
October 06, 2011 4:36 pm  • 

Ten years from now, city of Napa employees will likely ask themselves how they ever did their jobs without the new mapping technology that is coming their way.

The Napa City Council unanimously approved a contract this week with a geographic information system (GIS) company that will enable the city to map the exact location of every manhole cover, utility pole, water pipe and other asset.

Napa has used mapping software from Esri, based in Redlands, for at least 10 years, primarily in the engineering and public works departments, said Scott Nielsen, the city’s information technology services manager. The city has paid about $15,000 annually.

Now the city plans to use the software for all of its operations at a cost of about $55,000 in each of the next three years.

“That software will go enterprise wide,” Nielsen said. “It will be on every laptop in every vehicle that is out in the field, it will be on iPhones, Droids, it is what everyone sees in the field as well as in the repository back in (the information technology department).”

Once the contract is signed, employees can begin mapping the city using information provided by satellites to find the exact coordinates of every asset in the city, whether it be a pipe valve, a water meter or a street tree, staff said.

Water General Manager Joy Eldredge said she is excited about the capabilities the technology presents. It will reduce the amount of time it takes her department to respond to an event like a water main break and isolate the problem area, she said.

“If a leak occurs, we scramble, we rely on knowledge of people who have been operating the system for years and paper records,” she said.

Once the data is collected and stored in the city’s database, staff will be able to know the exact depth of every pipe and can find which valve needs to be turned to shut off water in any particular area in the event of a water break, Eldredge said.

Crews worked nearly all of September to repair a pipe broken at the intersection of Solano and West Pueblo avenues that paper records indicated was buried 30 feet below ground, Eldredge said. Crews found it to be located about 15 feet deep. Using the mapping software, the city will know the location of its assets within centimeters, she said.

“It can be someone’s first day on the job and they can look on the map and see where they are and where the asset is,” Eldredge said.

Nielsen said the software will be used to locate assets throughout the city, not just in the water division. He said it is easy to use, so any employee can take advantage of it.

“It allows a person in the field to pull up their map, pull up a particular segment of a pipe and learn more about it,” he said. “If a picture is worth a thousand words, this is worth a million words.”

Eldredge said staff have already begun taking a hand-held device with them when they go to jobs so they can collect data. Other staff will take the devices out and canvas the city to gather the location of assets electronically.

The information will then go to one central database where it can be accessed as necessary, Nielsen said. Napa County uses the same software, so the data compiled in the city is compatible and could be used by either entity.

The mapping data will serve as the framework for the city’s asset management software system, which will be developed after the assets are located, Nielsen said. Then, the coordinates of any given asset will be available in one place.

Copyright 2015 Napa Valley Register. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(4) Comments

  1. glenroy
    Report Abuse
    glenroy - October 07, 2011 5:09 am
    That’s too much for what benefit it brings….the county it made sense but the city infrastructure isn’t that complex or large….

    Besides the biggest benefit of GIS is property lines....just too much for what it provides because in the city it's obvious.
  2. SandMan
    Report Abuse
    SandMan - October 07, 2011 9:06 am
    Garbage in - Garbage out

    If the records are entered that it's 30 feet down then the electronic record will reflect the same.
    I'm with glenroy.
  3. commenter
    Report Abuse
    commenter - October 07, 2011 11:27 am
    Only 15 feet down but marked as 30? Must have been near quittin' time when that pipe was laid in the too shallow trench... I would like to know what the engineers required, what the normal depth is, what the work (employee) logs are for that time frame, who signed off on the job, etc. Tough to think it was a writing or typing error between "15" and "30". Do some real reporting will ya!
  4. kevin
    Report Abuse
    kevin - October 07, 2011 6:06 pm
    There would be NO reason to put a water main 30' deep in that location...
Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick