November 10, 2010 By Sarah Rich
A walk through Central Park can now be much more enjoyable thanks to an enterprise asset management (EAM) system used in New York City to help track and fix park deficiencies such as broken glass, weeds or graffiti.
The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation is in the process of rolling out an EAM module system used for processing and storing the department’s information such as inspections, work orders, work requests and inventory in each of New York City’s five boroughs. With the EAM system, department staff can more efficiently find problem areas and make improvements in New York City parks.
Modules include advanced reporting, mobile functionality, bar coding for inventory and a GIS, according to Infor, the Georgia-based enterprise software vendor that provided the EAM system.
In June, the EAM system’s implementation began in Queens; full rollouts have already occurred in Manhattan and Staten Island; the Bronx’s rollout will begin in November; and a Brooklyn rollout is set for January. Prior to the EAM system, each of the boroughs used separate, paper-centric systems for tracking and reporting problems in city parks. Once the rollout is complete, all five New York City boroughs will be consolidated into the same Infor system, said Marty Brenner, IT director of NYC Department of Parks and Recreation.
When working in the parks, field crew use Motorola MC75 handheld devices to input data to show they’ve completed tasks, or to submit requests to have deficiencies fixed, Brenner said. Once the information is collected, the devices are taken back to department offices where the EAM system is operated.
There, the devices are synced to the Infor product and automatically updated on computers. However, the handheld devices do not sync data in real time, Brenner said.
The department uses an internal rating system for maintaining the New York City parks, which is based on five categories: glass, graffiti, lawns, snow (ice conditions) and weeds. If a park fails in three or more categories, the park fails overall. A park can be rated an immediate failure if reports include problems such as broken fencing or a nonworking bathroom, Brenner said.
“We’re trying to improve our ratings and our ability to keep our parks system clean and safe,” Brenner said. “And the EAM system will be a way for us to track this.”
Brenner said it cost about $2 million to implement the system and the department had to hire three Infor trainers for 18 months. He hasn’t seen any cost savings yet, but the goal for implementing the system wasn’t to save money but to create efficiency.
“I don’t know if we’re ever going to see a real dollar savings that I can quantify, it’s more like ‘What is it really doing for this department?’” Brenner said. “I didn’t go into this to save money.”
Because the system tracks and keeps record of all assets, Infor also functions as a predictive analytics tool. Bob Benstead, vice president of strategic planning at Infor Public Sector, said following asset trends can help park crews prevent deficiencies before they occur.
“When you do reactive work and reactive maintenance, the costs are generally always higher, so with the predictive analytics, you can apply that to any number of things such as frequency of failure,” Benstead said. “When you predict those and utilize the historical trends, you can turn it around and say, ‘Widget X will fail after a few months,’ so you can repair it prior to that event happening or even replace it.”
Brenner said the department will eventually be able to plan and prepare for special events such as the New York City Marathon. Because the department knows when the marathon takes place, it can use Infor to submit work orders one to two months in advance to prepare for the event.
Brenner also plans to expand the Infor system in NYC by eventually incorporating the city’s fleet system.
The Infor EAM system with the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation was the winner of this year’s Driving Digital Government Award at the New York City Technology Forum hosted by e.Republic, Government Technology’s parent company.
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