Launch Slideshow

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Group Effort

Group Effort

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    In the upper right corner of this image, green stars indicate new tract homes that were not being billed for sewer service. In the lower left corner, blue stars indicate older tract homes that were not being billed. Photos: City of Fontana

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    In this image, pink circles within a parcel represent an address point that is being billed in the sewer utility billing system (the sewer connection point is represented with a red dot along the curb). A blue square in a parcel indicates the billing system does not have a record of the address point and the connection (noted with a blue star) should be investigated to verify proper billing. The green circles represent manholes.

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So far, the city's Information Technology GIS department has found more than 600 homes out of 50,000 with sewer connections that weren't being billed for sewage treatment services, representing as much as an additional $150,000 in annual revenue for the city.

MEETING SIGNAGE REQUIREMENTS

Public works also uses geospatial technology to meet new Federal Highway Administration(FHWA)requirements via a GIS-enabled asset management system from GBA Masters Series Inc.

Updates to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) this year established minimum retroreflectivity levels for traffic signs. By January 2012, public works agencies must have established and implemented an assessment or management methodology that will ensure regulatory, warning, and ground-mounted guide signs can meet the minimum retroreflectivity level requirements to become effective Jan. 1, 2015.

To get a head start on meeting the requirement, Fontana's public works crews are logging the location and reflectivity level of 2,000 stop signs using handheld GPS-enabled “guns.” With one click, the RetroSign GR3 retro-reflectometer collects the orientation, location, material type, condition, and reflectivity of each sign, which has been assigned a record number that corresponds to the same record number in the GBA database. Crews upload the information into the database on a Panasonic notebook computer.

“This has vastly improved our ability to manage our signs,” says Matta. “For example, since we record the date a new sign is installed, we can quickly determine when its 10-year life expectancy will end. If we have to replace it before then, it becomes the manufacturer's responsibility.”

To create records for a new sign in the field, crews remotely reference data—such as the record number, location, and orientation—of existing signs nearby. Uploading information from the field allows the department to retain information that's not traditionally documented.

“Institutional knowledge is one of the big things for us—and how we convey that knowledge is through these databases,” Matta says. “We don't just want to know as top sign's there; we want to know what the crew that's working with it knows.”

GIS FOR GROWTH

Fontana developed its GIS with the goal of creating a stable and expandable system. In addition to sewer and sign inventory and street centerline data, public works uses the system to manage landscape and park area data. Next it will inventory storm drains.

“All of this data is displayed on a map so I can see that a street set for repair is next to a street that needs renovations and nearby another street that needs to be replaced,” Matta says. “I can quickly determine the cost of that work and any other segments of road in the area that should be included. That's very hard to do when you're not in a GIS environment.

“In terms of managing infrastructure, a GIS environment is probably the most cost-effective way even though there is an initial cost of setting it up and maintaining it. GIS has given us the ability to make decisions at a very high level without having to do a huge amount of analysis and field work every time we want to make one decision.”

— Vines is editor of Redlands, Calif.-based Environmental Systems Research Institute's Government Matters and Federal GIS Connections newsletters.