Akron, Ohio, Earns Top Honors for Innovative Use of GIS Technology

City of Akron Public Utilities Bureau awarded Special Achievement in GIS from the Environmental Systems Research Institute.

by / May 16, 2008

The City of Akron Public Utilities Bureau stood out from more than 300,000 organizations worldwide that use Geographic Information System (GIS) software to make a difference in the world. ESRI (Environmental Systems Research Institute) will present the bureau with a Special Achievement in GIS Award at its 28th Annual International User Conference in San Diego, California.

"ESRI recognizes the passion of our very special users with our Special Achievement in GIS award," says Jack Dangermond, ESRI president. "The effectiveness of these people to infuse our technology into their real world contexts creates meaning for our efforts. For this we are grateful."

GIS is a software tool for exploring geographic relationships to better understand how the world works and how it is evolving, connecting, and changing. Virtually unlimited amounts of information can be linked to a geographic location, allowing users to see regions, counties, neighborhoods, and the people who live in them with clarity to solve real-world problems from tracking delivery vehicles to modeling global atmospheric circulation. Government agencies, businesses, nonprofits, and other organizations rely on the software to analyze their communities and make better decisions for their well-being.

"I'm extremely proud of the work done by these bright, creative employees of the City of Akron," said Mayor Don Plusquellic. "Innovation is always encouraged here because it is how we remain solid in serving our customers in this increasingly competitive world."

The City of Akron Public Utilities Bureau uses GIS to maintain and distribute its water/wastewater utility infrastructure data for more than 500,000 in-ground assets serving 95,000 customers and multiple surrounding communities. Engineering, Dispatching and field crews rely on the effectiveness and accuracy of this data for daily maintenance and operations of their utility systems.

By providing a more accurate, efficient, and effective flow of utility data, Akron has increased the standard level of service and support provided to customers. The next step in the evolution will be public Web access for customer support.

Other organizations being honored at the 2008 ESRI International User Conference include Society for Conservations GIS, Kenya; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Weather Service; The Lyse Energi, Norway; Illinois Department of Transportation; Ball State University and Afterimage GIS; and the Kentucky Department of Public Health.

Project Goal

The City of Akron Public Utilities Bureau (APUB) was in a decade long in-house water/wastewater records conversion process when they were given their vision for APUB's future.

"Design, build and implement a centralized system for managing work, inventory control and reporting of all APUB assets above and below ground."

Business Problem

For nearly 100 years, APUB maintained its water/wastewater records using hand-drafting methods on cloth paper and Mylar. In the mid 1990's, AutoCAD was introduced to begin the digital conversion of the utility assets. Duplication of work, omission of data entry and independent data copies became commonplace and asset maintenance was done through paperwork and field books. Overall, there was little to no informational bond between these data sources.

Now, though, it can maintain and distribute its inventory in a much more efficient and effective method. Utilizing the GIS as it's repository Akron has significantly improved operations for customers.