Amplifying a Small Team with Big Plans
Before the City of Hastings migrated their GIS to the Cloud seven years ago, they had an on-premise server that was mainly for hosting three websites for public viewing. The three websites functioned as informational for both employees and the public. The City relied on their IT department to make any server upgrades, as well as hardware and software changes – and took on the additional responsibility of troubleshooting or installing Enterprise software on their own.
“It was great when things worked, but when we ran into an issue, I didn’t have the knowledge or expertise required to fix things in a timely manner. It was a struggle during those times.” says Lindsey Stone, a GIS coordinator that has been employed with the City of Hastings for the last seventeen years.
Through her seventeen years working for the city, Lindsey has seen a lot of growth and change. The City of Hastings is in rural Nebraska with a population of 25,000. Before moving their GIS to the Cloud, the city’s IT team was very lean and balanced a full workload on top of lending a hand to install the Esri software.
“Since Esri software is a specialized software, anything configuration wise falls outside of the scope of their responsibility. They would install the software or get the server back up and running, but there wasn’t enough bandwidth to offer more support on our specific GIS requirements.”
When it came time to upgrade the server, IT suggested exploring cloud options due to the lack of resources to commit to the project, as well as the large time commitment and lead time to purchase the hardware required to upgrade to the newest software.
In response to IT’s idea, Lindsey reached out to their Account Manager for a list of Esri partners that performed cloud migrations.
“We received a list of three or four. We evaluated the organizations based on the cost and the service plan, how much support they provide, how many hours, and how they handle software upgrades. We wanted someone there after we got the infrastructure set up – someone we could go to with continued questions.”
Migrating your GIS to the Cloud—especially one designed to connect residents with municipal services—is an intricate process; no two GIS or cloud environments are alike. As a local government; the success of the transition was crucial – citizens and employees alike depend on timely access to GIS data.
The ROK Team knew they could architect a solution that would modernize the city’s GIS, increase their ability to scale and collaborate, as well as improve their system’s reliability and optimize their resources.
A Smooth Transition to the Cloud
In addition to migrating the City of Hastings GIS to the Cloud, ROK Technologies also upgraded them to the newest version of ArcGIS Enterprise, so they didn’t have to worry about upgrading at a later date. As part of modernizing their GIS, they also updated their internal workflows regarding pushing updates. Previously, the maps that the city was publishing were view only and copies of data on the on-premise server. At the time, the process was simple, but it cleared the way for the City of Hastings to leverage their GIS in new and complex ways.
“Our transition was seamless and non-disruptive. Once we upgraded to the Cloud, we took a strategic pause to explore our path forward because we now had more resources, more servers, and more oomph to the server.” Lindsey explains how the City of Hastings experienced immediate improvements in how their GIS functioned.
In addition to smoother workflows, the City of Hastings experienced an immediate increase in bandwidth. “We started developing additional websites for internal employees because the server could handle the traffic, whereas before we were pushing the limit. We focused on transitioning from ArcReader and paper maps to getting more web-based applications – we used the web app builder to push out ten more websites. Also, instead of updating maps every six months, we were able to update this information monthly. Everyone was really happy about that.”
Due to the expanded server environment, the City of Hastings was able to heavily utilize field maps and expand services. Not only have they been able to do more, everything is running efficiently, saving time for GIS and IT employees.
Launching a Utility Network
A few years after joining the cloud, the City of Hastings was able to roll out a utility network for the city. “We have four utility networks, which have a very large footprint. Even though our environment is getting larger and more complex, managing it is more efficient. Now we have people out in the field with tablets editing the GIS data live instead of them bringing a list of changes back to the office. We had to expand our server environment greatly to make this work. It’s been great to have the ROK team available to guide the discussion. It’s great not to need to have all of the knowledge about the backend of the GIS Enterprise infrastructure, because I can’t know it all.”
The utility network rollout was an extensive project that took two years from start to finish. When asked how the project went, Lindsey noted the Cloud’s role in facilitating the project. “Having our GIS in the Cloud has really allowed for advancements and what we’ve done because we can quickly adjust to our needs.”
Five months post-utility network roll out, the City of Hastings is still evolving. “Nothing really stops here, we’ve shown what we can do, so everyone realizes the possibilities.”
Joining the Cloud allows many city departments to use their GIS around the clock and away from their desk, using any device connected to the internet. If a citizen has a question out in the field, the city employee can now use their smartphone and pull up the necessary information to answer the citizen’s questions.
The City of Hastings is dedicated to fulfilling its mission and providing its citizens with a “safe, clean, and thriving community”. As GIS mapping products and services become vital touchpoints for the community, cities like Hastings will continue to invest in taking their GIS to the next level.