After the flood: How the City of Oneida, NY streamlined their operations with Cartegraph
City of Oneida, NY
When City Engineer Jon Rauscher joined the City of Oneida’s Department of Engineering and Public Works in 2012, he wanted to evolve the New York organization to a modern operations management system. Just as Rauscher settled into his position, however, the City was hit with a once-in-a-century flood that amplified issues his public works team already faced with their pen and paper approach. The flood acted as a catalyst for the City to streamline their operations with Cartegraph OMS, and since early 2015, Oneida has benefited from improved efficiency and reduced costs in addition to enhanced planning and increased public engagement.
In the early hours of June 28, 2013, nearly 4 inches of rain fell in a single hour directly above Oneida Creek, flooding 240 homes and commercial businesses with 6 feet of water. With no modern operations management system in place, Rauscher’s team managed the City’s 1,400 tons of debris cleanup with only handwritten journals and spreadsheets—something he believes created issues for his team in terms of coordination, efficiency, and reporting. “A lot of times, we were so focused on dewatering an area, or getting our water treatment plant up and running, that it was hard to keep track of who was doing what and where,” he said.
Rauscher remembers using paper maps and highlighters to assign tasks and track progress. When crews completed their work, Rauscher manually combined and analyzed their paper journals and maps. Reporting for FEMA reimbursement also proved to be a tremendous challenge without an operations management system. Once the crisis settled, it took Rauscher months to itemize their work and collect the required submission information.
While Rauscher knew the City of Oneida needed to streamline their day-to-day operations, the June 2013 flood amplified issues his public works team was already facing and magnified drawbacks in their pen and paper approach. “This was definitely the catalyst to make the move,” Rauscher said.
Today, the City of Oneida uses Cartegraph OMS to manage 50 miles of two-lane roads, 40 miles of sanitary sewer, and everything in between for their 11,000 residents. While Rauscher initially compared a few operations management systems, Cartegraph stood out as the user-friendly solution that would help his team efficiently maintain more than 7,300 assets, track their resources, and manage requests. “We needed something that was simple for our field crews to use—something they could pick up and intuitively use,” said Rauscher. “That was a key point for us. If I gave our guys something too complex, they wouldn’t use it.”
Rauscher’s public works crews uses the Cartegraph mobile app to see their tasks, review asset details, attach photos, enter labor hours, and more—all from the field. After crews complete a task, Cartegraph OMS updates in real-time, allowing Rauscher to view progress and project costs with the click of a button. “I was able to give a pretty quick tutorial on how the Cartegraph mobile app worked, and the crew was off and running with it,” said Rauscher. “They can see where tasks are laid out, and that allows them to be more efficient with their workflows.”
Rauscher’s favorite feature is their 311-software integration: allowing citizens to submit issues directly to the City of Oneida from their tablet, smartphone, or browser. Once the issue is submitted with its GPS coordinates, the request is automatically integrated into the City’s OMS workflow for prioritization and handling. “It’s helped us a lot with public outreach and gives residents another avenue to let us know if there’s an infrastructure asset that needs attention,” said Rauscher.
Since early 2015, the City of Oneida has seen several advantages to using Cartegraph OMS to manage their day-to-day operations. Overall, Rauscher has seen increased efficiency—even in the most unlikely places. With Cartegraph, the amount of time and resources the public works crew uses for summer yard waste cleanup has been cut in half. “We’ve required residents to input their requests through our 311 integration, and our crew can see the most efficient route to complete their pickups on their iPads,” said Rauscher. “They aren’t driving around trying to find piles to chip, which saves us time, fuel, and wear and tear on the vehicles. It also takes fewer workers to complete the task, and I can use specialized crew members for more advanced projects.”
In addition to increased efficiencies and saving taxpayer dollars, Cartegraph has helped the City of Oneida spot bigger problems or irregularities with their infrastructure with data trends. “If we see that a sewer is getting back up more than a couple times, that triggers that we need to put it on the video inspection list as a high priority,” said Rauscher. With Cartegraph, crews can quickly access this work history in the field with their iPad—information that used to be hidden away in journals, filing cabinets, and static spreadsheets back at the office.
Cartegraph is also helping Rauscher with budgeting and planning for future work, particularly when it comes to their pavement program and equipment. “Anytime we repave a road or do a temporary patch, we track that information in Cartegraph,” he said. “It allows me to go back to council and say, ‘we need additional road monies and here’s why.’ I can quickly show them what we’ve done, how much it’s cost, and what needs to be completed.” While the City invested in Cartegraph for their infrastructure, Rauscher has found equipment tracking to be tremendously valuable. “Our central garage guy is amazing with tracking any vehicle work within Cartegraph,” he said. “It’s been extremely helpful to lobby for additional funds to replace a truck or another piece of equipment.”
While Rauscher is thrilled with the amount of progress the City of Oneida has made with Cartegraph, he’s even more excited for what’s on the horizon. “We’re excited to use the Esri ArcGIS system for forecasting. I think the ArcGIS piece will help us better display data to our board, and export our pavement program to show them exactly what the next 10 years will look like.” What’s even more amazing—the City of Oneida is currently working with FEMA on a June 2013 flood mitigation project, and Rauscher is looking forward to doing all his reporting through Cartegraph. “FEMA has offered to purchase 155 damaged properties from the flood, and we’re going to help demolish the properties and turn them into green space,” said Rauscher. “We’re going to use Cartegraph to track the demolitions as we go, and track exactly how much it costs to disconnect sewers and water services as we go. We’ll also end up tracking the contractor demolition work in Cartegraph too, to make it easily reportable.”
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