The red dots in the Cityworks GIS-centric software application indicate ash tree locations in a city neighborhood. Photo: City of Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The first three phases took place in parallel,” says Craig Hupy, manager of system planning with the public services department. “Good communication between departments helped to keep all stakeholders informed of tasks completed and work in progress.”

The next step was to contract out the removal of ash trees, with the contractors responsible for tracking and reporting the removals. Staff used the application to divide the city into 23 zones based on neighborhood boundaries and to determine the number of trees per zone. Contractors were then able to make informed decisions as they bid per zone or on sets of zones.

The Bottom Line

The ash tree removal project began December 2005 and is projected to be complete by the end of this year. To date, approximately 6000 ash trees have been removed.

Overall, implementing a GIS-based maintenance management system:

  • helped staff locate and count all street trees
  • added the geographic component for planning work activity
  • allowed staff to track work on specific assets (trees) and report on customer calls
  • improved communication regarding requests and work activities.

The initial Cityworks pilot study cost approximately $25,000 and was funded from an approved budget line item. Because the public services department recognized the value of this application, the city had purchased an additional 20 single-seat and six floating licenses for other public service units when an end-of-year budget surplus was identified. So the tree-inventory project cost the city just $10,000 in staff time to implement.

— David Wilburn is senior applications specialist with the city of Ann Arbor, Mich. The views, opinions, and conclusions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position or opinion of the city of Ann Arbor or its city administration. The publication of this article does not constitute and should not be construed to be an endorsement of any views, opinions, or conclusions that may be expressed or implied by the city of Ann Arbor.

Read the sidebar, The Quick–and efficient–fix to learn more about how Ann Arbor's forestry staff uses GIS to get a variety of jobs done.