With 33% fewer employees compared to similar communities, Mick Michel, city administrator for Dyersville, Iowa, explains why his small community is big on tech. Learn how his team is using data to spend smarter, improve transparency, and more.
Like many communities, Dyersville relied heavily on paper forms, two-way radios, and employee memory to manage their infrastructure assets. Handwritten notes littered truck dashboards, work orders were misplaced, and city hall frequently called crews for status updates. With no way to capture, analyze, and report on their work and asset data, public works employees were constantly battling misguided perceptions.
“The perception was always, ‘Well, they’re not doing anything.’ Or, ‘They’re not managing the assets very well,’” recalls Michel. “We knew that’s not true, but, externally, we needed to show council and the public that everything was being managed correctly.”
“In small communities, you have to work smarter. You have to work better.”
To prove his case, Michel knew Dyersville needed a city-wide database of its assets: everything from pavement, playgrounds, and pipes to signals, signs, and sidewalks. If crews could log their work and track resources in real time, they could prove that they were efficiently performing the right work on the right asset at the right time.
Today, Dyersville uses Cartegraph’s operations management system and Esri ArcGIS to track 17,000 assets and counting. Empowered with Cartegraph’s mobile field app, crews are performing inspections, receiving assignments, and completing tasks in the field using smartphones and iPads.
No more stacks of paper or forgotten work orders. No more morning assignment meetings or calls from city hall. Crews grab their devices and are out the door, laser-focused on the work that matters: maintaining city infrastructure as effectively and efficiently as possible.
“In small communities, you have limited resources and limited amounts of money to do things. You have to work smarter. You have to work better,” says Michel. And, Dyersville is doing just that.
Aside from streamlining workflows and increasing transparency, the City of Dyersville has leveraged Cartegraph to increase accountability, reduce costs, mitigate litigation, and improve communication.
- Increased Accountability: “Front-line employees have the necessary tools to do their job, and do it well. If they see something that needs to be fixed, they don’t have to ask permission to fix it,” says Michel. “Giving them accountability gives them the power to do—and take ownership in what they’re doing.”
- Reduced Costs: “Analyzing our Cartegraph data, we discovered that some of the work our Public Works Department is doing is more affordably done by the private sector,” says Michel. “We’re constantly evaluating those activities to see what works best and what is most cost effective.”
- Mitigated Litigation: Having a time-stamped inspection and maintenance history is proving to be invaluable to the community for other reasons. When a storm blew down a city tree and caused property damage, Dyersville was threatened with a lawsuit. After sharing inspection reports proving the tree wasn’t a hazard, the resident dropped all legal action.
- Improved Communication: “The database has allowed everyone from the front-line employees to councilmembers to communicate better,” says Michel. “Both sides now fully understand why they do what they do and why.”