PORTAGE | The city is moving ahead with the development of a geographic information system that officials say will improve efficiency for multiple departments.
The Utility Services Board recently approved a contract with The Sidwell Co., of Chicago, to move forward with the project. The city previously purchased GIS software and a global positioning system as part of the project.
The $52,227 contract with Sidwell will include training and working with the company to understand what the city already has, how it will use the system and what it needs to accomplish the project, said A.J. Monroe, director of public works. The company also will collect 2,000 data points, load that GPS data into the GIS and provide the city with technical support.
Monroe said the project should be completed in about two months. Once it is, it will provide city staff with a more accurate accounting of the city's infrastructure, which will benefit the utility department and other city departments.
For example, a staffer will be able to pick a point on a map, possibly a lift station. Stored data will include information such as when the lift station was installed, the last time it was maintained and any issues with the unit.
For the Fire Department, information could be stored in the system concerning a certain building or business that would help the department if it received a call, including information on key holders, floor plans and contents of the building.
The GIS system also will be used in stormwater management and to help comply with laws on the separation of stormwater and sewer systems, he said. The system is needed for the city to change its structure of stormwater fees for commercial properties, moving from the rate system to one based on impervious surfaces, he said.
Once Sidwell has completed its work, staff will continue adding data points to the GPS system, which in turn will continue to build the GIS, Monroe said.
"This gets us off to the start we need," he said.