Milwaukee Develops GIS System for Efficiency

Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District provides wastewater services to 28 municipalities in a 420-square-mile service area covering five southwestern Wisconsin counties, according to a March 9 press release from ESRI.

Serving these municipalities requires the district to continue developing spatial inventories and applications that meet internal and external needs for planning and design. In an effort to meet these requirements, the utility has begun developing an enterprise geographic information system (GIS) using ESRI's ArcGIS Server technology. The aim is to improve mapping and organizational efficiency as well as bring added value to business operations.

"One of our guiding objectives for GIS at MMSD is to eliminate silos of data while providing cost-effective access to this data by all users," says Project Manager Don Nehmer. "The ArcGIS Server technology allows achievement of this objective."

MMSD began using ArcGIS Desktop software in 2003 for department-specific solutions. When the district decided to move into the ArcGIS Server environment, it chose HNTB, an infrastructure management firm, to help facilitate a multiphase implementation plan including the development of a business data model. The district's business data model focuses on existing data inventory and application user needs and includes the design of three-tiered enterprise geodatabases maintained in an Oracle environment.

To populate the new geodatabases, a data conversion process will take more than 600 existing GIS datasets and inventory them into a number of different formats including shapefiles, CAD, MicroStation, and Oracle tables. Data such as aerial, boundaries, water quality, real estate, and watercourse will be categorized into thematic groups, then consolidated into one of the three geodatabases.

"Historically, information regarding water quality, water quality improvements, and physical features of water were located in separate departments," says Nehmer. "Consolidation of this information took time, money, and executive sponsorship to change priorities. Now, all staff can access and output this information from their desktops without the help or sponsorship of other staff. The staff has the information it needs to make better and faster decisions, which was another of our guiding objectives."

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