Encompassing 550 sq. miles and serving over 1.3 million customers, Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District (MSD) is responsible for maintaining the sewer and wastewater treatment needs of St. Louis, Missouri and the surrounding area. MSD also manages the thousands of assets necessary to sustain the massive operation, including over 9,600 miles of sewers and seven wastewater treatment plants that treat 350 million gallons of water per day.
While MSD’s GIS history goes back several decades, the utility began using Esri ArcGIS in 2009 and implemented IBM Maximo Spatial in 2010. For their first attempt at integrating those two systems, MSD went with a tightly coupled, custom solution that connected two Oracle databases via a database link.
The program would start by checking an ArcGIS database for changes in the past 24 hours. Then, changes would be submitted to the Maximo database as new and changed records. Finally, the changes required manual review on both ends to confirm that the SQL-scheduled procedures completed without issue and to review the Maximo Message Reprocessing Queue to identify data consumption problems. The burden of manually checking for errors and troubleshooting issues every day was heavy on the IT staff and many responsibilities couldn’t be transferred to other teams if the IT department was unavailable.
MSD also ran into issues with configuring ArcGIS Feature Services and Maximo. They discovered that their integration only allowed them to match values that were explicitly defined in both ArcGIS and Maximo. This didn’t work for some of MSD’s most important workflows – in this case, keeping track of hazardous situations and the necessary equipment to keep workers safe. These values were previously derived in the SQL by SDE geometric intersection; MSD was faced with the possibility of adding multiple attributes to every feature class and the likelihood that the data would become stale very quickly.
MSD was also looking for better reporting functionality. Up to this point, reporting had come from one employee manually checking over reports from daily database synchronizations, which was time-consuming and left room for human error. Problems were difficult to diagnose, required translation between different teams in the organization, and were filling up email inboxes with error messages. As all these issues continued, MSD knew they needed a more sustainable solution.
MSD began a search for a solution that could modernize their myriad integration issues. They interviewed consultants and discussed the situation with colleagues from across the industry. Eventually, Geonexus staff met with MSD to compare the benefits of further custom development versus a configurable off-the-shelf solution: the Geonexus Integration Platform.
The platform’s reporting functionality, greater compatibility with MSD’s existing GIS-Maximo workflow, and the fact that it could be used without extensive IT or software development experience were all elements that MSD was searching for. After just one demonstration of the Geonexus Integration Platform’s capabilities, MSD were “overwhelmed” and knew right then that it was exactly what they were looking for.
Now that they have implemented the Geonexus Integration Platform, MSD is running full comparisons of their data every single day. They’re also using the Geonexus Integration Platform’s Preview Mode to make changes without breaking the integration and to estimate the run time before a change; this allows adequate scheduling when large tasks need to be completed. Because the old solution was over 10,000 lines of SQL code, a single misplaced comma could send the whole thing crashing down, but thanks to the Geonexus Integration Platform’s Preview Mode, that’s no longer a problem.
MSD is also saving massive amounts of time that used to be spent manually combing through complicated reports, identifying issues, and fixing them. Because the Geonexus Integration Platform reports all updates, discrepancies, and errors, MSD can quickly identify problems with their data and correct them.
Data accuracy is another area where MSD has seen a massive improvement, which has led to an overall increase in confidence across the organization. After several errors were discovered during implementation, MSD was able to correctly dial in their Geonexus Integration Platform integration to track and make changes to assets that weren’t being edited correctly by their previous custom solution.
Like any large organization, MSD experiences staff turnover. When members of the team left in the past, they took their knowledge of MSD’s custom integration systems with them. Now that the Geonexus Integration Platform has been implemented, MSD doesn’t have to rely on one person’s specialized knowledge of a complicated custom solution; they have involved a cross-department team of employees to keep their systems running smoothly. This has introduced ownership of data integrity to MSD’s business users, rather than just IT staff.
MSD found that being able to customize synchronization of their data was extremely helpful. Additionally, they no longer rely on limited time from specific members of the team for important tasks. If an error is identified or a change in the integration needs to be made, it doesn’t have to be done by a member of the IT team anymore. Someone from the GIS team can use the Geonexus Integration Platform’s user-friendly interface to make the change themselves and ensure the integration is working correctly.
MSD is pleased with their investment in the Geonexus Integration Platform. The organization is seeing dramatic improvements in several workflows. They’re able to perform a full synchronization every day with greater confidence in the results, and with necessary planning, they’ve reduced the overall time needed to run syncs. MSD is also seeing increased collaboration between multiple teams and less reliance on the knowledge of individual employees when it comes to solving integration issues.
Lastly, the platform’s error reporting has dramatically improved MSD’s understanding of data issues. They aren’t dependent on complicated spreadsheets and can be understood by employees from multiple teams, reducing the burden on the IT team. Instead of spending hours closely analyzing reports, the team can shift valuable time to the parts of their operations that need it most.
Geonexus’ platform was built with business logic in mind and allows utilities to connect systems like ArcGIS, Maximo, SAP, and more. The Geonexus Integration Platform opens the door to new possibilities for data integration and asset management, so schedule a demo today and learn how Geonexus can help make the most of your data.