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GIS & Asset Management

Why Is GIS Such an Important Part of the Asset Lifecycle?

February 14, 2024

GIS (Geographic Information System) plays a crucial role in asset lifecycle management for a variety of reasons. GIS allows organizations to manage the spatial data associated with assets. Integrating spatial data into asset management systems helps organizations to gain better insights into the geographic context of their assets. GIS also enables real-time tracking and monitoring of assets across their lifecycle. This includes visualizing asset locations, status, and performance metrics. This supports more efficient asset management, maintenance scheduling, and resource allocation.

For all of these reasons and many more, one of the most important aspects of GIS supporting the Asset Lifecycle is simply better decision making. GIS provides decision support tools for asset planning, design, and optimization. By visualizing asset data in spatial contexts, users can consider various scenarios and make informed decisions to enhance asset performance and lifecycle outcomes.

Understanding why this is important obviously determines the foundation for what the desirable outcomes should be. The important question now is what people and organizations need to do to achieve these outcomes. Also understanding what gets in the way and how you can work through any challenges.

First is the field data acquisition. GIS data is not just automatically assigned to every asset in the field and cannot be considered from design intent because changes happen in the field. So what have people done to support these efforts?

During the recent e-Merge conference hosted by Infotech there was a Panel discussion that included cities of St. Louis, MO and Muscatine, IA where these topics were discussed. The session title was Exploring GIS-Enabled Construction Inspection with the City of St. Louis and the City of Muscatine, so it is very relevant to this topic.

How can an agency increase the volume and accuracy of geo-located asset data?

Leveraging technologies like the new GeoBridge application built by Seiler Geospatial that connects Infotech construction management solution Appia to Esri’s field data collection system Field Maps is a great place to start!

Matt Poirot, Chief Construction Engineer for the City of St. Louis Board of Public Service says “It's about being able to leverage more of our employee base. Being able to have water, water crew operators, distribution operators who are able to collect the information. So that we're not coming back out there to a job site that they've already been to, our workers are able to collect the information with minimal training and we have buy-in from them.”

The people collecting field data using Field Maps (from whatever minimally trained available group is assigned) need zero knowledge of Appia. They collect the data using the tools and methods they were taught. GeoBridge does the rest. It automatically creates the daily work report for the specific inspector(s) in the proper Appia project. From that point it’s managed like any other Appia project by trained personnel.

Providing tools that give inspection abilities to more of your staff is one important step. So, what happens with that data once it’s been collected and organized?

“We manage the construction projects, but we don't really maintain the assets. We have a street department, we have the traffic division, we have the water department, you know, MSD handles our sewers. So essentially, we're managing the project and turning it over to other departments for maintenance. So being able to push all this data over to them and let them put that right in their maps would be really helpful” says Poirot.

Mark Yerington, Manager, Utility Solutions, Muscatine Power and Water, City of Muscatine, Iowa agreed with the way St Louis approaches this field data collection and moving data from the field to the office and on to the asset management system. Yerington said, “You know, all those utility things, all your assets, you have to do specific maintenance on them. And with Field Maps and dashboards and things like that, we're able to keep track.”

How will people evolve and adapt to new technologies and changing workflows?

“I think that some of our biggest success stories are the people that have been here for 30 years and are buying into this digital technology. The younger generation, they're already bought in. But our successes are getting a 40-year career lineman to go out and collect this digital information for us. It's something that was never part of their job title. But they have buy in because they see the value in it” says Poirot.

Mark Yerington adds, “Our field crews are using it every day for electric, water, fiber and we're mapping every asset that we have out there. We have a full 3D model of our entire sewer system and had some progressive people around here. Having accurate locations really helps you drive decision making into the future.” 3D scenes can be used to visualize the GeoBridge collected and Appia managed data from any angle.

GIS provides powerful visualization tools to communicate asset-related information effectively. By creating maps, dashboards, and interactive visualizations, organizations can convey complex asset data and insights to stakeholders, facilitating better understanding and collaboration. Enabling more people that are already working in the field to be able to provide that data certainly adds efficiency while eliminating redundancies in the workflow. Perhaps more importantly, in the end it greatly increases the volume of data that becomes available. Having more and better data enables everyone to better understand exactly what stage a project is in and exactly where assets are located. This information drives contractor payments and so much more.

Matt Barnes, P.E., Construction Project Crew Leader for the City of St. Louis is a daily user of Appia and discussed some of the critical value they gain since they adopted this software years ago. The way Appia handles multiple funding sources, and multiple field engineers enables them to put in their own reports without having to duplicate topics or pass around a physical job diary. “A few years ago, I had three open, federally funded LPA projects that I was running by myself. I don't think I would have been able to do that without having Appia where all my project information for all three projects was in the same spot, all digitally located.”

Appia generates the Daily Work Report and keeps track of people, materials and equipment along with item data that when placed and located leads to contractor payments. Integrating this data through GeoBridge into FieldMaps creates an easy-to-use system that shortens the adoption curve without breaking the bank. Most important to a public agency, or anyone doing any work for them, is the fact that it provides accountability and transparency when combined with ArcGIS through these field collection methods. Leaders and the Public can monitor the current status of any project underway in a combined set of tools that combined become the complete source of truth. As Matt Poirot puts it, “It's definitely kept us on track and it's audit proof.”

GIS serves as a foundational technology for asset lifecycle management. It enables organizations to monitor and optimize asset performance, reduce risks, and enhance decision-making processes. GIS data can also be integrated with asset management and other systems to allow for a seamless exchange of data between different systems and enable comprehensive asset lifecycle management. Once the data is added from the field into these systems it essentially lives forever.

If you’re interested in learning more, browse our Appia x ArcGIS FieldMaps page or contact us.


Ron Perkins
Channel Management and Partnerships
Ron Perkins, in his role as Channel Management and Partnerships at Infotech, Inc., brings over four decades of experience to the Architectural Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry. With a career spanning renowned firms like Construction Market Data (CMD) and Autodesk, Ron has spearheaded sales, business development, and product initiatives, shaping the industry with his expertise in market intelligence and technology deployment. Beyond corporate roles, he's provided strategic consulting to industry giants such as Hewlett Packard, SYNNEX, and Samsung, contributing to the launch of groundbreaking products like HP SitePrint. A sought-after speaker at prestigious events like Autodesk University and ENR FutureTech, Ron shares insights that drive industry progress. Actively engaged in industry committees and NSF-funded research grants, he continues to push the boundaries of technological advancement. As a former US Marine, Ron's service background adds depth to his character, while his contributions to industry publications solidify his status as a dedicated and innovative leader in the AEC domain.
Terry Cline
Senior Account Manager
Terry began his career in the analog era of the AEC industry. Working with manually created plan sets, blueprint machines, fax machines, and floppy disk based sneaker nets. Terry has personally experienced and participated in the creation, implementation, natural resistance, eventual acceptance, and maturity of initially unproven technologies like e-mail, CAD, EDMS, GPS, GIS, the Cloud, SaaS, and many others. For the past several years Terry has worked to understand and help others appreciate the importance of digital as-builts, digital project delivery, construction management, asset management and the connected data environment needed to bring them all together. Over his 44 year career Terry has served as an end user, instructor, technology evangelist, and account executive.