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December 13, 2010
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas, Dec. 13 -- IBM (NYSE: IBM) and the city of Corpus Christi, Texas, today announced they are working together to continuously improve efficiency and sustainability for the city's more than 275,000 residents.
IBM and Corpus Christi are working together to manage and maintain the tens of thousands of assets that make up such diverse city departments such as water and utilities, parks and recreation, as well as solid waste and the storm water department, enabling the city to quickly evaluate and respond to issues, anticipate and prevent problems and improve the quality of life for the citizens of Corpus Christi.
Before working with IBM, each city department had its own process for handling incoming work requests and ongoing maintenance, typically operating on a reactive basis, using paper and logbooks to track issues. Because there wasn't a central systems of tracking existing issues, budgeting and managing city resources was sometimes difficult. IBM software helps Corpus Christi city departments and managers know what is happening across the city, when it is happening and who is handling it across the city in real time.
"Corpus Christi is evolving into a more sustainable city -- one that has intelligence, foresight and accountability built into the way we manage the services we provide our citizens," said Steve Klepper, an administrative superintendent for the city of Corpus Christi. "Working with IBM, we now have a real-time status of city services, automated work orders and an overview of city's infrastructure to better manage our resources, as well as better maintain the city's mission critical assets."
The largest city on the Texas Gulf of Mexico coast, a significant part of the city's economy relies on port industries, higher education and tourism to drive growth. The city strives to improve the quality of life for citizens while keeping operating costs low and maintaining quality levels of service.
Many City Services -- One Call Center
A critical component of the Corpus Christi service strategy is the city-wide "One Call Center." Using IBM software, the Corpus Christi call center can speed responses to issues more efficiently and by better optimizing city resources. For the fiscal year of 2009, the Corpus Christi call centered generated more than 45,000 electronic work order requests from across the city.
When residents call with complaints or service requests, the city creates a work order connected to the location address based on its utility billing system. IBM software provides the city with a bird's-eye automated 'map' view of existing maintenance requests using mapping software from IBM Business Partner Esri. From their desktop, laptop or mobile device, a call center manager can see all existing problems -- coded in color by urgency -- and determine scenarios such as entire service area being affected or the existing location of assigned field workers in order to make management decisions and improve service to customers.
Previously, citizen calls were routed to the appropriate department and recorded on index cards before being manually entered into a spreadsheet. Each utility department used its own separate system and procedures with no citywide standards. Given the manual nature of this process, staff could not accurately track how long it took to respond to and fix problems. Staff had no way to view the work history for each site, making it difficult to identify recurring problems. Although the city had already established a geographic information system (GIS), work orders were not interfaced with this system. As a result, departments couldn't spatially analyze work requests to determine whether a customer request represented a site-specific problem or an area-wide issue that would require more extensive support.
Specifically, IBM software helps the city deliver services in the following areas:
Smarter Water Management
As a coastal town, more than two-thirds of the city's 460 square miles is water. IBM is helping to manage six wastewater treatment plants, two reservoirs, approximately 1,250 miles of wastewater gravity mains and a water treatment plant with a 170 million gallon capacity, helping to ensure safe, clean water to the community while conserving city resources by providing faster and more efficient maintenance.
Urgent requests for critical water work orders that can impact residents, such as pipe main breaks or water quality problems are now received as e-mails on smartphones of designated Water Department first responders. Field crews get real-time work order updates, directly update the work order status using their smartphone and enter work order comments without having to go through a dispatcher. In the field, technicians can access IBM software through their smartphones or tap into the city's WiFi network to update work orders, increasing the time crews can be in the field maintaining the city's assets rather than in the office submitting paperwork.
The software provides analysis into overall water and wastewater projects. In one instance, wastewater staff found that nearly 33 percent of the departments effort was spent resolving problems at just 1.4 percent of customer sites. With this information, the city developed and implemented a repair plan that resolved these ongoing issues and ultimately reduced costs.
Smarter utilities, greener parks and solid waste collection
IBM software is helping better manage the transportation traffic engineering, roads, vehicles, traffic lights, airport -- and parks to improve the quality of life for Corpus Christi citizens.
Working with IBM, all city departments address their work efficiently and more intelligently by providing real-time information, history of prior work, and geographic location. The Solid Waste Department, for example, uses IBM software to keep track of the garbage routes as well as to track customer complaints on garbage. Using laptops connected to the city's wifi system, public utility gas crews in the field can access the exact pipe locations before digging, get a history of repairs in area and update work orders from the field.
Park Maintenance crews track all work performed, or needed, on each of the 300 city parks, ensuring that park lawns are mowed according to target frequencies and maintained according to standards and that public playground facilities are inspected and maintained as needed to provide safe recreational areas. The city-operated airport uses the system to ensure the customer-facing facilities are maintained according to standards and for better inventory control. With more than 1,100 miles of public roads to maintain, the Streets Services Department tracks work performed on streets, including labor and materials costs. Traffic Engineering is able to track locations of citizen complaints and work needed to traffic signals.
Aided with this intelligence, the city can better schedule proactive replacement or maintenance of assets before they break as part of its managed work schedule. This planning allows the city to properly allocate staff and resources in line with urgent or unforeseen circumstances.
The city of Corpus Christi is using IBM Maximo Asset Management software to manage these resources.
About IBM Smarter Cities
For IBM, this marks a new smart city arrangement in the US, which takes a holistic view on improving the basic functions of urban centers. IBM already works with Dubuque, Iowa, and Chesapeake, Va., as smarter cities. IBM has announced an arrangement with the Chinese city of Shenyang to collaborate with government agencies and China's Northeastern University to turn that city into a model for environmental protection and sustainable development. IBM already has many engagements underway with cities around the world focusing on smarter transportation or energy management within cities.
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