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Proactive tasks: How we reduced citizen work requests by 17%

Town of New Milford, CT

Daniel Stanton, the Town Engineer for New Milford, Connecticut, knows that tracking his infrastructure assets is about more than just management and repairs. It’s about satisfying citizens and staying viable in hard times.

In his town of New Milford, over 28,000 citizens simply expect things to work. On the day-to-day, citizens are passionately engaged in the town’s upkeep — keeping Stanton’s team busy with over 1,000 work requests each year. These expectations, compounded with budget constraints, meant Stanton’s team needed a comprehensive solution to track and prove the value of asset maintenance.

Challenge

After the recession of 2008 came and passed, Stanton and his team struggled to maintain management and citizen satisfaction. Assets began deteriorating, but budgets weren’t increasing. Stanton’s team was constantly challenged to do more with less and had little leverage for budget increases.

“If you don’t have an idea of what you own out there, you can’t justify that budget,” says Stanton. “You want to make sure that you are replacing assets that warrant replacement — not just replacing assets that you want to replace.” With post-recession economics, it wasn’t possible to replace any property before its time had come.

The team had been relying on the wisdom of a highway superintendent with 40 years of experience. The knowledge was useful, but it wasn’t a viable long-term option — and it was particularly hard to quantify when budget meetings came around.

“When your chief executive changes or your mayor changes, they immediately need to understand where the money will be spent," says Stanton. " You need to be able to give them details and show them."

Solution

In the pinch, Town Public Works Director Michael Zarba suggested using Cartegraph to get a better handle on asset collection and analysis. The town kicked off its efforts in 2010 with a focus on pavement management.

With 212 miles of road in New Milford, Stanton’s team dove immediately into asset collection — inputting valuable data like the length of each road, the OCI, and deterioration curves. They added a custom ADT field to capture traffic counts and calculate impact. It painted a clear picture of New Milford’s roads, which helped prioritize the biggest problem areas.

“Now that we have the data entered, we’re prepared for conversations with council and can make sure we’re selecting the right roads at the right time,” says Stanton. “We use it for crack sealing too. We set a schedule to touch each road when it needs to be done the first time and follow up with additional crack sealing as time passes.”

The team is turning its attention to the town’s stormwater system: collecting assets, scheduling work, and using data to make decisions about materials. “We know corrugated metal pipes last less time than both RCP and HDPE pipes,” explains Stanton. “We’ve started entering all that data into Cartegraph and that’s going to benefit the department for years to come.”

Results

Thanks to the information tracked in Cartegraph, the Town Engineer now knows exactly where the money is being spent. With four iPads equipping the highway team, asset entry and task creation has never been easier – and New Milford has the numbers to prove it.

Stanton’s team increased its database of storm inlets from 838 to 3,851 in just two years, and bolstered collections of other assets such as pipes, culverts, and guide rails. All tasks are connected to assets, creating a valuable archive of data for future project planning.

“Our organization has made progress in our asset maintenance program due to Cartegraph,” says Stanton. “We have been able to maintain our pavement conditions despite limited funding increases and sporadic capital funding.”

The project came full circle when better asset management translated to happy customers — and in a few short years, Stanton’s team cut down work requests by 17%. The biggest benefit, Stanton says, is visualization: Office staff can pinpoint exactly where the problem area is when a citizen request comes in, giving Stanton’s team clear guidance to solve it efficiently.

Thanks to Cartegraph’s insight in New Milford, Stanton has anticipated and offset future requests by adding 10,000 proactive tasks to maintain infrastructure. On the road ahead, Stanton has big goals for complete and comprehensive asset management — and the right software in place to reach them.

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