Getting Your Asset & Infrastructure Ducks in a Row with GIS

Getting your assets in a row has never been easier or more accurate than with web-based, GIS asset management solutions, with implementations dropping from months to weeks  

By Brian Berdel

Today, many of us manage multiple segments of our lives via the convenience of smart phones. Imagine the number of balls that would be dropped if we didn’t. But in a day when we have become accustomed, if not reliant upon digital applications that bring consolidated efficiency to our lives, many public works departments are managing thousands of assets using stand-alone, circa 1990 models.

Individual spreadsheets, localized databases or, even more surprisingly, paper, is commonplace. None of these methods can be accessed in the field, nor combined in a single location for a full view of all assets, their use or their maintenance – hardly the means to keep up with the demands of today.

For departments that have enlisted some industry-specific technology options, often they are disparate software packages, such as one for assets, one for permits, etc., which become isolated silos of critical information that is inaccessible across multiple departments. This will never present a full picture for better asset management. This is also not a solution to have a full, enterprise-wide view of the public works world for more accurate and simplified budgeting and forecasting.

It’s Time to Join Today

To gain true efficiency, agencies require a specialized solution that encompasses all data points in one solution that is viewable either in the office, or in the field for on-site updating (with or without a data connection), and across all stakeholder departments. This kind of efficiency requires a GIS-based software that allows users to know what they have, along with knowing where it is. A complete asset management solution also allows you to centrally store all pertinent documents, images, and reports, and provides the opportunity to build a more transparent relationship with constituents through agency portals.

The Mandates Are Real

Agencies are under greater scrutiny to have both efficiency and transparency. State and federal requirements for reporting and management validation increase yearly, such as the recent mandates for retro-reflectivity signing or MS4 Stormwater Management and Sewer Requirements. These demands are pushing departments to produce documented actions and inventory accountability at an unprecedented level. Keeping up with all of those data points, and having them available at a moment’s notice is impossible with non-linked solutions.

A True Way to Streamline Operations

GIS-based asset management solutions are providing the path for technological infrastructure to streamline all operations in the public works’ environment. Whether tracking snowplows in winter operations or asset maintenance across a fleet, or managing the components of work orders including repair, replacement, preventative maintenance or scheduling, the list of what can be efficiently managed grows daily.

These solutions are created with the end-user in mind, incorporating simple commands for ease of use, on normally used devices like iPads and smartphones. They include report building tools for easy development and delivery by employees and agency management to oversight agencies.

With the addition of mobile data collection for assets, work orders and inspections, everything is gathered in real-time, on-site in a secure cloud environment. Workers are able to spend more efficient time in the field without the burden of manual entry of information once they return to the office.

Getting your assets in a row has truly never been easier or more accurate than with web-based, GIS asset management solutions. Implementations of these solutions have dropped from months to weeks. Because it is web-based, it’s easy to start with one module and build out a full suite over time. If you’re struggling to see the whole picture in your public works operations, you may want to explore the capabilities waiting for you in one of these solutions.

Brian Berdel, Chief Information Officer, manages and supports McMahon’s software development, GIS and IT Infrastructure divisions.  Focusing on GIS, asset, fleet and work order management, he has lead the development effort of TRAISR – McMahon’s Asset and Infrastructure Management Software Suite. He may be reached at

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