Due to the many stormwater, asset management, and wastewater (SAW) grants awarded to communities throughout Michigan, cities are now taking a look at their assets and creating improvement plans that carefully balance costs against risk in order to prevent problems.
A geographic information system, or GIS, is a tool that can aid in the creation of these plans. Any community asset, from trees to benches to garbage cans to bus stops, can be logged in GIS. An asset’s exact location can be noted, as well as its condition, asset photographs, and any other information.
Using GIS at the beginning of a project requires a slightly higher initial investment, but results in both time and money saved in the long-term. Once an asset is logged into the database, the city can query the data based on asset age, condition, or other factors. This allows for the creation of a more accurate asset management plan, because that plan will only be as helpful as the accuracy of the data used to create it. The more thorough and accurate the database, the more useful the plan.
A GIS database is also easier to update, because it makes it simple to track the replacement of assets.
Even cemeteries can benefit from GIS. Used in combination with ground-penetrating radar, GIS can make a cemetery’s records easier to maintain and view. It can give a complete map of where bodies are located, and makes for easier record-upkeep. This data can be used internally or can be used to update websites available to the public.
What is GIS?
Geographic Information Systems, or GIS, is a way of displaying, organizing, and analyzing spatial and database information. GIS can be used for a broad scale of applications from simple map-making to complex analysis that solves real-world problems. Using multiple data types, including map layers, CAD files, imagery, and terrain topography, GIS allows users to do everything from mapping land use types to performing a soil type survey to determine the corrosion potential of a pipe system.
Abonmarche’s GIS department is creating a sign inventory for the City of Benton Harbor. Using GPS, our GIS staff is noting the location for the City’s 2,800 signs, as well as other information, such as the sign’s size, height and offset, and condition. They are also using a retroreflectometer to measure the reflectivity of the signs.
When complete, the data set will allow the City to know which signs do not meet requirements, and complete an asset management plan for replacement.