The next time you see someone taking measurements or recording data on a street or a gravel road, it’s probably related to acquiring information for your municipality’s asset management program.
What those workers are doing is using a geographical information system to get the data for the asset management program, and a tablet or other device with related software is often used in the process.
“Geographical information systems have been in existence for decades,” says Kevin Cymbaluk, the Director of Operations for the M.D. of Smoky River No. 130. “A GIS takes information and translates it into map and spatial imagery.”
Cymbaluk and his public works staff made a presentation to council during their meeting on Jan. 10.
As per Cymbaluk’s report, GIS has evolved from custom-built programs created by government agencies on mainframe computers in the 1960s, to personal desktop-based software in the 1980s, to integrated web-based solutions in the 2000s.
The public works department started using GIS tools about 10 years ago, to capture infrastructure information for the region and put it into the asset management program. Originally, the provincial government promoted GIS through the Municipal Infrastructure Management System. However, this provincial system has been discontinued and was replaced by ArcGIS, which was developed by ESRI, a private company.
The other municipal partners involved with GIS and asset management are the Town of Falher, Town of McLennan, Village of Donnelly and Village of Girouxville. The federal and provincial governments have provided funding for this regional initiative.
See the table with this story for what each municipality is contributing to their asset management program.
Cymbaluk notes the benefits of this system:
. Improved communication.
. Better record keeping.
. Cost savings for greater efficiency.
. Improved decision making.
Concerning the asset management component, this is the process of maintaining, upgrading and operating the physical assets cost effectively. The provincial government wants municipalities to manage their physical assets more cost effectively. This includes items such as bridges, roads, drainage pipes and water/waste water systems.
More importantly, municipalities can preserve the knowledge of retiring staff by implementing asset management programs.
The five partners are at various stages of providing data for this GIS/asset management program. However, data collection will be continuous and ongoing for an evolving asset management program.
For more information, contact Cymbaluk at the M.D. office at (780) 837-2221.