Author Archives: David Totman
Florida presents unique challenges for the water industry. The groundwater is so close to the surface that I have often heard the phrase “Surface water is groundwater that you can see.” The karst geology adds to this problem. Everything is connected. This has caused great concern regarding water quality and the health of Florida’s rich ecosystems. You’ve probably guessed by now that these water quality concerns have created a diverse regulatory environment.
Image of downtown Orlando. Explore more in this storymap
In addition, water resources and water utilities face challenges surrounding construction, sea level rise, and data collection. Groundwater and tide conditions have to be considered before construction projects can begin. Sea level rise is causing flood inundation and salt water intrusion leading to corrosion. Remote locations, wetlands, sinkholes, and wildlife can make data collection difficult.
Monday, August 29 marks the 11 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the costliest disaster in American history. And while the category five storm caused unprecedented damage, the community has rebuilt the destroyed infrastructure, and has also taken new steps forward technologically.
The city of New Orleans now uses GIS extensively, and incorporates Esri’s ArcGIS platform into a series of enterprise applications. These help the public stay informed as well as enabling them to participate in making their city a better, safer place to live.
For instance, a new website called Where Y’at, is allowing citizens to access public data as easily as any common search engine. By typing in their address, people can find up-to-date information about property boundaries, garbage, and recycling pick-up days, polling locations, district representation, and more.
Flooding is one of the most costly natural disasters that government agencies endure. Floods are a great risk to people and property. Knowing ahead of time that a flood is going to happen, what will be flooded, who will be affected, and how to respond is of great importance to reducing loss of life and property.
Does your organization have the capabilities, resources, and tools it needs to weather any storm and safeguard your community? In this blog you will find three critical steps that help you to prepare for and respond to flooding events.
Join Esri at the American Water Resources Association (AWRA) 2016 Summer Specialty Conference: GIS and Water Resources IX
The Esri water team will be on site at the AWRA Summer Specialty Conference, July 11-13 at the Hilton Sacramento Arden West. The focus of this year’s event is the role of GIS to support better decisions across water, land, and ecological resources.
Esri is a bronze-level sponsor and exhibitor at the conference, where a spectrum of topics will be covered in 37 sessions over the course of three days, ranging from water resource data development techniques to complex computer modeling infrastructures.
This year, National Mosquito Control Awareness Week is June 26, 2016 – July 2, 2016. Mosquito Awareness week highlights the importance of mosquito control to further bring awareness about efforts to prevent and protect residents from mosquito borne diseases. According to the American Mosquito Control Association, over one million people worldwide die from mosquito-borne diseases every year. Mosquito vectored diseases include, malaria, and viruses such as yellow fever, dengue, chikungunya, West Nile virus and Zika virus. Below you will find six examples of organizations keeping their communities informed about vector aid and vector control efforts.
Recently, Zika virus is exploding across the Americas. Direct Relief is reaching out to their partner network in affected regions to offer resources. In this map, one can click on the partner network icon and see the partner name and location to get resources such as painkillers, insect repellent, and birth control.
Three clicks to public works? If you read about the Internet of Things, there is a theory that everyone wants information in three clicks or fewer. I read an interesting rebuttal to this theory, suggesting that it is not the number of clicks that is important but whether users are getting the information they need along the way. At Esri, we are working hard to get you the information you need in as few clicks as possible. Truth is, many public works challenges cannot be resolved in three clicks, but at least we give you the information you need in each step of the business process.
I recently gave an overview of the water industry from the public works perspective at our inaugural Esri Water Conference in Portland, Oregon. I was privileged to reflect on how water infrastructure challenges were faced in the past versus now. Several years ago, as the asset management manager of Colorado Springs Utilities, I helped our organization fight water main breaks with a myriad of tools, including Esri’s very own ArcGIS, pre-platform. I say “pre-platform” because we did not have ArcGIS Online or configurable web maps and apps that run on any device, anywhere and at any time. We did have a state-of-the-art enterprise GIS back then, but let me tell you, there were lots of moving parts and many button clicks. We spent as much (or more) time managing the technology as we did fixing water main breaks. And don’t get me started on managing all that data.
Now, enter the platform of ArcGIS. Today’s ArcGIS has all the traditional components — desktop, server, and mobile capabilities — but has been improved with a common thread of web services and web maps served up through ArcGIS Online, backed by the Living Atlas of the World, with thousands of datasets useful in public works decision making. These components have become inseparable and offer a true collaborative platform for delivering information to field and office personnel on any device, anywhere, anytime. The ArcGIS for Public Works solution suite offers a configuration of the platform to jump-start your public works department.
ArcGIS is not your father’s GIS anymore. Three clicks? We are getting closer every day.
A leapfrog opportunity
Despite the digital revolution, many public works departments are still in the paper age. Typically, these departments serve smaller communities and have yet to adopt GIS technology for a variety of reasons, including cost and complexity. The steps in implementing a traditional GIS include buying a system; converting paper basemaps; adding infrastructure layers such as roads, pipes, and wires; building applications; and training users, all of which is often too resource intensive. Cloud-based GIS removes these barriers. Continue reading
GIS: The universal language
To understate the obvious, there appears to be a communication gap in many public works departments between information technology (IT) and what could be called operational technology (OT). However, clear communication between these departments is critical for the successful completion of city projects. Continue reading
The right tool for the job
In 2009, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave America’s infrastructure a “D.” When most of America’s infrastructure was originally built, the country was in a growth mode and engineered every specific project to be optimal before moving on, not always understanding the mechanics of the complete system—how the various projects or components worked together and how they affected each other at a more regional scale. To add to this complacency, underground infrastructure also suffered from the adage “out of sight, out of mind.” Today, with our limited budgets and declining workforce, we are experiencing the results of this oversight. We understand that infrastructure decays due to in situ conditions and operational extremes, material degradation and manufacturing defects, and dynamic loads not taken into account in the original design. We now know that skipped maintenance schedules shorten the life expectancy of our assets. Entire systems are being brought down by their weakest links. Continue reading