For many municipalities, paying the electric usage costs for all
community owned and maintained facilities can result in a significant
annual expense. This cost can be compounded when the various accounts
registered to the municipality are incorrectly managed. Recently, the
City of Des Plaines began the process of reviewing all the city electric
accounts that have been paid over the years and discovered several
problems, both in how the accounts were related spatially to actual city
facility locations and how many accounts the city was responsible for.
To determine the correct spatial relationship of each facility account,
the city’s GIS department was asked to assist in developing both a
database for storing and managing the account information and a map to
assist city staff in tracking each account issue as it was reviewed.
While GIS was not necessary to perform a basic cost analysis of the
city’s accounts, adding a spatial element to the account information
provided a means to visually track the accounts as they were reviewed.
It also allowed those reviewing the information to see the distribution
of the types of facilities across the city receiving power as recorded
by the power company and allowed staff to cross-check the information
for inconsistencies. After mapping out the facility locations and types
as indicated in the electric usage accounts, the accounts were field
verified for accuracy and all erroneous information, such as unmatched
account numbers and incorrect addresses or locations, was removed.
Moving forward, the mapped facility features and their associated
attribute tables will be stored in a GIS database to allow for future
analysis or map product development as needed. Before the introduction
of GIS, this information was disjointed across multiple files and file
formats, making it difficult to perform a comprehensive review. By
centralizing this information in a spatial platform, the city now has a
means to both visualize and review their account information in a way
that’s accessible across multiple departments.