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Many municipalities are eager to take advantage of the exploding capabilities of information technology (IT) tools in their daily operations. Conceptually, IT tools should help us achieve a simple goal: use information efficiently to make better decisions. There is no doubt that today's software technology provides very powerful tools to assist with engineering decisions; however, powerful tools are useful only if the right tool is selected for the decision at hand. Municipal engineers are faced with an avalanche of IT options: off-the-shelf packages, custom software, software vendors selling engineering tools, engineering firms selling software products, and the list goes on. Selecting the “right” IT solution can be a significant challenge.

Fundamentally, the right set of IT tools can only be selected after identifying end-user needs. This paper presents a successful approach used by the Sanitary District of Decatur that focused on end-user needs to develop a flexible, expandable information management platform. The District's platform integrates the following software components:

Geographic Information System (GIS) and database applications.

A collection system hydraulic model.

A Graphical User Interface to link the GIS, databases, and model, built specifically to satisfy end-user needs.

The resulting integrated GIS information management platform serves as a support tool for the District's decisions on collection system modification, operation, and maintenance.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2000-01-01

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