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Managing Conduit Assets and Billing Costs Using Trimble Cityworks

Baltimore City’s underground conduit system facilitates the delivery of power and communication to both businesses and residents. Here’s how they use Trimble Cityworks to manage the maintenance and leasing of this shared infrastructure.

As technology continues to advance, demand for power and communication is rising.“Smart Cities” is more than just a buzz phrase.

Baltimore City understands the importance of maintaining its conduit system to meet an ever-increasing demand for data and communication connectivity while ensuring the city’s future-readiness. This includes managing fiber optic communications and the critical connections that support emerging wireless technologies, such as distributed antenna systems (DAS) and small cells, as well as city initiatives like the CitiWatch program for sharing private video footage with public safety officials.

Committing to meet the challenges these technological advancements have caused means addressing the demands placed on the conduit system by this growth. To do so, Baltimore City must manage a conduit system that is unique in its setup.

The city owns the infrastructure, including manholes, hand boxes, and conduit duct banks. It leases the duct space to those who hold a business partnership with the city. Typical lessee owners are local and national power and communications companies. This presents a particular challenge to the city’s ability to accurately track duct occupancy and bill it to the appropriate lessee.

Trimble Cityworks Implementation for Conduit Inspectors

City inspectors are tasked with observing and inspecting all third-party work in the ducts, which could include construction, repairs, or laying new cable. Each visit has its own service request, which is tracked in Trimble Cityworks. When repairs are needed in the conduit infrastructure, the Conduit Division uses Trimble Cityworks to assign work orders to either city maintenance crews or contractor staff.

A duct bank system.

An integration between the city’s Salesforce 311 portal and Trimble Cityworks provides a seamless initiation of work orders from lessee owner service requests without any duplication of data entry. Once work orders are closed in Trimble Cityworks, status updates and comments are synced to the 311 portal for lessee owner access.

Conduit Inspections Activity Manager

Baltimore City generates revenue each year through its conduit leasing program. One of the Conduit Division’s most important functions is the accurate and detailed tracking of lessee activities for billing purposes.

To effectively support this critical function, a custom application was created to capture duct measurement information for customer cable installations. The team developed a specialized web-based portal—called Conduit Activity Manager—that integrates with GIS and Trimble Cityworks and provides functionality to collect duct measurement information for customer cable installations.

Baltimore City’s Conduit Activity Manager for Cable Measurements.

The process is initiated by a Trimble Cityworks service request, which interfaces to the Conduit Activity Manager where inspectors capture measurements for the installation or removal of a conduit duct. Each measurement represents the base unit for accounting and billing for lessee occupancy within the conduit network.

This custom application delivers the following benefits:

  • Leverages Trimble Cityworks API to pull new service requests for cable install or vacate requests.
  • Allows authorized inspectors to enter measurements after selecting manhole, wall, duct bank, and duct numbers.
  • Allows authorized supervisors to review and approve the measurements before finalization.
  • Updates Trimble Cityworks by closing the service request and creating an “update GIS” work order, where staff can update the GIS with the new occupancy information.
  • Generates management reports for accurate billing to the lessee owners.
  • Provides a system for tracking current lessees.

Since implementing Trimble Cityworks and the Conduit Activity Manager portal, the Conduit Division has moved from a paper-based system to a centralized digital solution that tracks all activities for the Conduit Inspection and Maintenance Section. This streamlined approach for capturing all inspections and integrated solutions for determining measurements for lessee billing provides transparency and a higher level of billing accuracy. Capturing all inspection and maintenance data in a centralized solution allows the city to generate reports of the work performed by the Conduit Division.

What’s Next

With maintenance and measurement activities in place, the project focus will now shift to managing materials and equipment.

Efforts are currently underway to organize and inventory all material and equipment stored at multiple city locations. Once the inventory is complete, the team will configure and deploy Trimble Cityworks Storeroom and Equipment Checkout. This process will not only support inventory management but will also lead to accurate cost capture for all conduit-related maintenance activities.

By comprehensively understanding its unique processes and challenges, KCI has provided Baltimore City with an integrated solution that transformed the city’s processes for collecting duct occupancy information. The system information and its reporting outputs function as reliable and consistent inputs into the city’s billing process. In turn, this capability has given the city greater insight into critical cost information.