You know the drill: The police department wants a new facility and the council approves your $21 million estimate. Then your internal client starts adding to its wish list (a new parking structure, renovating the radio shop, relocating the open-records facility) for which you dutifully gather and present additional cost data to elected officials, who sign off.

A few years later, someone from the comptroller's office calls wanting to know why the facility now costs three times the original estimate and why you didn't let anyone know-even though you received approval on what metastasized into a $64 million project every step of the way.

Then an audit confirms that the costs and work were within engineering expectations.

Tired of justifying its actions after the fact in scenarios just like this one, Milwaukee's Department of Public Works married the city's mapping capabilities with its pavement management system so department data could be presented in an easily interpreted visual summary.

The result is "Map Milwaukee" (www.mpw.net), a visual information center that combines overlays of city map and orthographic images of public services, property and zoning data, school districts and locations, licensing, and infrastructure information with "the mother of all databases": an Oracle database of other city departments' databases that is automatically updated whenever changes are made in any of the individual databases.

Needless to say, this was a massive organizational and computing effort. Luckily, public works employs an Oracle specialist who possesses the interpersonal skills necessary to wheedle, cajole, and otherwise convince city employees outside the department that an enterprise database would benefit everyone.

Today, anyone can see up-to-the-minute updates to paving projects that show on a map where the work is being done and what costs are involved. All they need to do so is an address or cross street names (gis.milwaukee.gov/website/snowice/viewer.htm).

Administration & Transportation Design Manager Clark Wantoch, PE, says public works is laying the groundwork for electronic bidding and plans to integrate sewer, water, street lighting, and traffic control operations next.

- Stephanie Johnston

Session: Capital Paving Project Controls and Keeping the Public Informed
Clark Wantoch, PE
Administration & Transportation Design Manager, Milwaukee
Sun., Aug. 17, 2008
3-3:50 p.m.