Maintaining utility systems in GIS

​Keeping a utility system running at high capacity is a major
component of local government operations. Coordinating maintenance,
capital improvement projects, and every day operations can be a
challenging task that requires numerous man-hours to run effectively.
Having an accurate spatial inventory of utility system components helps a
community perform these operations more efficiently by providing a
quick reference tool for checking the physical location of a feature and
providing vital attribute information such as manhole depth or pipe
diameter. To assist with a recent sanitary system cleaning effort, the
Village of Winnetka Public Works Department requested that the GIS
Department develop a series of maps to help the field crews gain a
better understanding of the system before going out into the field.

Having the Village sanitary sewer assets in a GIS (Geographic
Information System) system provides a spatial inventory of the system
features that allowed the GIS Department to develop the requested
cleaning sector maps quickly and efficiently. The alternative to
developing these maps was to scan and print a series of old, hand drawn
paper atlas maps, which were difficult to read and, in some cases,
out-of-date. By using the more current, easier to read GIS-based maps,
the field crews had a practical reference tool to use both in the office
and in the field to determine the location of the pipes that needed
cleaning and the extent of the area that needed work. The maps also
provided pipe length and diameter information to give the crews a better
idea of the types of pipes they would be working with, which saved
resources and man-hours that may have otherwise been spent checking
these attributes in the field.

Managing utility assets in a GIS system allows local governments to
leverage their available hours and budget constraints to optimize their
operations and potentially reduce costs. By providing a spatial format
to review and reference utility features both in the office and in the
field, the Village has a efficient mechanism for validating utility
system information.