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Recently, we at Consortech have been asked the question by our clients:

“How are other Cities leveraging FME? We know we need to improve our data management, automate redundant tasks and find efficiencies, but we are looking to where we can do this, where will we have the best gains? We have this great tool, we see it’s very powerful, but we don’t know how to get the most out of it.”

This was an interesting question for us, because, we have been working with municipalities for many years now, helping them implement FME and FME Server and automate all kinds of data processes.

FME is this great tool, and sometimes it can be overwhelming to explain what it can do; read virtually all kinds of data format and applications, manipulate it in endless ways, sky is limit! Only your imagination stops you! Well, this doesn’t help too much though, in real life, when you are looking at ways to improve your organization.

Our approach to answer the question

So, we decided to review the projects our clients have done over the past 2-3 years, either delivered by us, coached through by us, or made on their own. The goal was to look for similar patterns in the types of projects, analyse emerging themes and trends and most importantly, find out where significant organizational gains have been made.

In our analysis, we noticed the projects we selected fit broadly into four categories:

  • Growth Management
  • Asset Management
  • Public Safety
  • Public Engagement

While separated into categories, the example projects do show that there is often overlap. A public engagement project may also serve asset management, for instance.

Main challenges found in municipalities

We also noticed that the projects were all affected by similar trends and challenges, the reasons that pushed for the integrations and automations in the first place:

  • The growth of data is outpacing staff: need to automate data processes. This is due to a mix of growing population and number of assets, but also new technologies and new data collection methods. All those cool IoT devices, cameras, scanners produce a ton of new data to manage and leverage.
  • The pace of technology is shifting: There is a mix of data on-premise or in the cloud, data needs to be shared between all these platforms and the solution to integrate needs to be flexible enough to adapt, or to tear down and rebuild.
  • Growing demand for inter-departmental data sharing: Where in the past, the FME projects tended to center around GIS specific cases, we now see more integration between data and applications held by different departments.
  • Growing demand for providing data on-time and in good quality: On-time however takes many forms: it may be real time, on a schedule once a day, once a week, etc. There is a need to provide validated data when and where the stakeholders need it!

Main categories where FME brings value

Growth Management

Projects related to management of growth, development, urban planning. In these cases, there is a strong need to integrate data flows between permit, finance, asset management, GIS and other systems, often to create reports with up-to-date and accurate information to help managers make the right decisions.

The Town of East Gwillimbury needed a way to track the rapid development and population growth occurring now and into the next ten years. They used FME to create automatic integrations of critical data in siloed systems such as building permits and GIS to provide an instant development progress dashboard accessible to all staff in the organization.

Asset Management

Every city is constantly inspecting and controlling the state of its assets. For this reason, having a good quality inventory has never been more important, therefore, validating existing and incoming data is a must. Data collection tools and methods have increased and there is ever more data to integrate and validate from the field as well.

The Town of Mono needed a data bridge between the Sign Management application hosted in the Cloud with their GIS System. They accomplished this by replacing a manual process with an FME Workspace, saving time and providing consistent and reliable results.

The City of Henderson was unable to effectively bring into the GIS newly assumed assets in the fast-growing City in a timely manner. Data processes were outdated, manual and required a lot of conversions between different formats. They leveraged FME to enforce a CAD As-Built submission standard by automating the validation and CAD to GIS integration processes.

Public Safety

Most GIS specialists in local governments of all sizes have one single headache in common: address data. Address data is the backbone of doing dispatch, analysing risk, and making emergency management plans. Too often, this data is not very clean, being patched together from different sources, from unclear governance and management processes. Moreover, every downstream system requires its own address representation.

NextGen 9-1-1 is introducing new data standards and requirements as GIS plays an increasingly important role in dispatch and emergency management applications. FME’s rich toolset is a great tool to perform validation, schema conversion, integration and export in preparation for these systems. This blog post provides more details on the subject.

The City of Hamilton developed a single authoritative source of address data by implementing an address information management system. FME Server was used to restructure, filter and push these addresses down to department applications, such as GIS, Permitting, Asset Management, which each have their own requirements, data structures and APIs.

Public Engagement

The increase in population means, among other things, that more citizens will request information and services, such as municipal taxes or open data. From another angle, there is an opportunity to get information from them, to locate potholes, damage to pubic assets or to obtain their opinions during public consultations.

The City of Levis implemented a pothole reporting and management system achieving greater operational efficiencies and citizen transparency. FME’s role on the backend of this Portal was to integrate the data from different systems including potholes reported by citizens, GPS-captured by staff, as well as staff reports on potholes repaired into work management and reporting systems. What looks like a seamless system from city managers and citizen’s point of view, is in fact multiple applications on the backend, with FME bridging the data automatically.

This GTA municipality decided to implement a single system to receive requests for service of different types through a Salesforce Portal. These requests, however, need to be passed on to downstream systems and applications in appropriate departments. FME Server acts as a real-time data bridge, receiving new requests and pushing them down to planning, gis, work order management, while providing case statuses back up to the Portal.

Want to get the most out of your FME investments?

We have presented the above-mentioned use-cases, and some others, to several organizations in the last months with interesting results. Many clients have gone from a problem of having too few planned projects to seek our help in prioritizing many new options. It is extremely satisfying for our team of experts to be involved in the analysis of various projects from the angle of the value of the return on investment as well as the estimated implementation times.

Want to know how FME can improve your municipality’s operation?