Newsletter: Handheld Gadgets: Taking Your Community Assets to a New Level (July 2018)

Michigan’s aging infrastructure has ignited a movement to study and evaluate conditions of public utilities and develop asset management plans. Software and hardware have changed dramatically over the last decade and is changing the way communities do their business – creating new and exciting opportunities.

Smartphones, tablets, and handheld Global Positioning System (GPS) units are being used in the field to collect data. This data is then integrated into common platforms that communicate seamlessly between
multiple users and devices. Cloud-based Geographical Information System (GIS) solutions allow staff to access photos, videos, record drawings, and mapping data in the field quickly and efficiently on a smartphone or tablet.

The same solutions available on smart phones and tablets can also run on many handheld GPS devices – which means staff only need to learn one platform or a couple of applications.

Smart handheld devices allow your staff to easily update and maintain operations and maintenance records of your infrastructure right in the field. Software is also available to track issues, work orders, valve turning and hydrant flushing programs, or other operations and maintenance tasks.

We have found that easy access to data on smart devices enables and motivates staff to update and keep data current. Accurate information in the hands of key decision makers can also reduce effort and have more reliability of the information during capital improvements planning, budgeting, and project development.

“It’s a lot easier to find stuff underground,” said Johnny Phelps, the wastewater operator for the City of Harrison who uses one of the city’s two handheld tablets to locate infrastructure. “If we’re having issues with sewer or water or something else, we can pull up all the information while we’re out there.”

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