Launch Slideshow

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Independent Operators

Independent Operators

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    Navajo County's information system is equipped with Terra Genesis Inc.'s GENII, an enterprise information integration tool that communicates with many different data systems. It pools disparate information into one enterprise system, while allowing information to remain in original databases. The tool adds data, security, and business logic layers, coupled with the source data to create a system of communicating applications. The system's data connectivity functions like a pyramid, from data maintenance at the base to queries in the middle and executive reports at the top. The system also provides data and maps to Navajo County's public-domain Internet site. Source: Navajo County/Public Works

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    Cost of delivered hot asphalt with tack oil

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    Points of flood analysis against FEMA maps and floodways

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    Fleet by inventory make

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    NCIS record creation reportThe above reports were generated by the Navajo County Information System.

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    The file room of Navajo County (Ariz.) Public Works. The county's two-year-old information system — based on enterprise information integration — provides a direct, electronic view into the data contained in this once-daunting back room.

Our system contains an integrated spatial temporal framework. This means data with physical extents appear on maps, and data that are bound by a life cycle can be turned on and off with an easy-to-use calendar control. Maps also contain animation controls so data can be stepped through time for analysis. For instance, I can draw a map for any specified time period and quickly compare it with another time period. The system includes tools for managing inventories, documents, and detailed reporting, as well as data streams such as video.

ORIGINS AND COST

Terra Genesis developed GENII between 2000 and 2004 to help the Texas DOT lower software life-cycle costs due to rapidly changing technology and business processes. The tool packages traditional “application development” overhead and allows the heavy thinking to be applied to the enterprise whole rather than the myopic single application. It is data- rather than software-centric.

As a public works director, I find this essential. Because of the DOT connection, many features directly address asset management, spatial analysis, temporality, transportation, and environment at the high-end professional level.

A license costs $85,000 with an annual maintenance fee of $22,000. We give the company remote access to our servers and receive improved code every six to eight weeks. We spent an additional $75,000 the first year for data improvements and budget $50,000/year for additional improvements on an ad hoc basis. We integrated 250 datasets into the system by year one, with another 100 integrated by year two.

Benefits of our approach include:

  • It's cost-effective. We bought a work-management system, but its open approach was also applied to new fleet management, building permit, inspection, flood plain, community development, inventory, sign, and health service systems — all with no extra cost or bidding.
  • Future public works systems can now be developed without going to bid.
  • It allows my business to be about data format, content, and interoperability, and not the software used to access it. I can focus funds incrementally on my data — and not on the system.
  • GIS mapping without a large capital outlay.

Our system continues to grow and promote better customer service at lower operating costs. As an information system, it has promoted an incremental approach to quality by providing my staff the tools they need to contribute to a single county fabric rather than an isolated office worker.

— Vela is director of public works for Navajo County, Ariz. Judy Needham, Navajo County Public Works systems administrator, and Ryan Taylor, Navajo County Public Works systems coordinator, contributed to this article.