All Posts By

Justin Falconer

Did You Know? “Utilizing Your Urban Engineering Data”

Problem:

Many small urban municipalities spend a lot of money on engineering data that sits unused. Recently, MuniSight found some creative ways to get more value out of the vast amounts of data that these municipalities had, but were not using.

Solution:

Several Albertan municipalities had untapped engineering data that they needed to use. The data included closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage of a sanitary manhole and various up-to-date photos of municipal assets. MuniSight imported the CCTV footage and attached it to asset information already housed within MuniSight. MuniSight also geotagged asset images and attached them to the appropriate assets in Webmap. The engineering information is now catalogued and attributed to each asset and can be viewed at any time.

Impact:

Now municipal workers from various departments can access the most recent asset information on demand, reducing silos and ensuring municipal agility.  This solution lets small urban municipalities get added benefit out of the engineering data that they already have, and unlocks more value for the money that they have already spent.

Did you know MuniSight can help you make the most out of your costly engineering data?

Contact support@munisight.com for more on how we can help.

Janelle Khan-Nielsen: Mid Season Update

Photo Credits: Lascelles Brown

MuniSight is proud to support the development of athletics in our community by sponsoring Janelle Khan-Nielsen, a skeleton athlete originally from Sherwood Park, Alberta.

Janelle is competing for a place to represent Team Canada at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Bejing. Janelle currently lives and trains in Calgary while working as a healthcare professional.

We are excited to release Janelle’s latest training and development update!

Read her Mid Season update here.

One of the most adrenaline-packed sports in the Olympics, Skeleton involves a running start with the skeleton sled, called a “push”, and jumping onto the sled head-first, and face down, to begin the quick descent to the bottom of a winding ice-track. Skeleton athletes can reach speeds of over 140 km/h with their heads mere centimetres from the ice.1

MuniSight is excited to follow Janelle’s progress to her Olympic dream, and we invite you to join us in cheering for her!

1 For more on Skeleton, visit: https://www.ibsf.org/en/our-sports/skeleton-info-graphics.

Fee Free 20 Professional Service Policy

Exciting News: MuniSight announces new professional service policy, effective April 1, 2019.

At MuniSight, we like hearing from our Client Partners. We like to hear about how we can help solve some of the challenges that municipal governments encounter on a daily basis.

For this reason, any service request that takes less than 20 minutes to resolve will be free – known as the Fee Free 20 Professional Services Policy.  Regardless of the type of request, we will not charge our Client Partners for any requests that are resolved in less than 20 minutes. As a MuniSight Client Partner, this means that you can ask us to consult on GIS challenges, perform simple GIS requests, or any other type of professional service request. As long as it takes less than 20 minutes to resolve, it is free.

For Client Partners that have subscribed to pre-paid General Service Hours – this policy is designed with you in mind.

“As long as it takes less than 20 minutes to resolve, it is free.”

We value interactions with our Client Partners, and we value hearing what they have to say, so making quick professional service requests free, only seems to make sense to us.

We hope that Client Partners will take advantage of this new policy. Whether the request is big or small, we are dedicated to delivering high quality service and value to our Client Partners.

Kind Regards,

Teresa Yeager

Director of Customer Success

Full details of the policy are available here: www.munisight.com/legal, in the policy section.

Municipal Innovation Award 2019 – Applications Now Open.

Applications for the 2019 Municipal Innovation Award are now open.  This award recognizes a Municipal Government Administration that has successfully implemented an innovative project which has made a positive impact on their community. For more details, see below.

Project

Applications to the Municipal Innovation Award must pertain directly to an innovative project that has been recently implemented by the Municipality. Specifically, the project must have been:

  • innovative in nature; and

  • fully implemented no longer than 12 months prior to the Application Date.

Eligibility

To apply the municipality must have the following attributes:

  • Canadian municipal government; and

  • Population no greater than 20,000 (as per most recent census).

Prize

The Award is granted each year along with a $2,000 charitable donation from MuniSight to a charity within the winner’s jurisdiction.

Full guidelines for the Municipal Innovation Award can be found here.

Last year’s winner…

In 2014 Tumbler Ridge lost its major industry and faced being shut down by British Columbia. In 2017, they had grown tourism by 700% and had shifted their economic dependence from coal.

Read Tumbler Ridge’s story here.

MuniSight is proud to support innovation in local government and as such is excited to sponsor and administer the Municipal Innovation Award. The winner of this year’s award will be announced at the 2019 Municipal Innovation Forum.

For more information, visit www.municipalinnovationaward.com.

Our User Conference Keynote Speaker – Mellisa Hollingsworth

We are excited to announce that Olympian Mellisa Hollingsworth will be speaking at MuniSight’s user conference!  Mellisa is a decorated Skeleton athlete that has harnessed an innovative spirit to bring her through both success and disappointment.

Mellisa Hollingsworth was raised in Eckville, a small Albertan community that shaped who she is today; a decorated Skeleton athlete with rural roots that run deep.  Mellisa’s story is an incredible journey in athletics, and we are proud to have her join us at the 2019 Municipal Innovation Forum.

More about Mellisa:

Mellisa Hollingsworth considered quitting the sport of skeleton when she wasn’t named to the 2002 Canadian Olympic Team. Thankfully, for her, and Canada, she didn’t.

Mellisa’s World Cup season leading up to the 2006 Olympic Winter Games redefined the term “hot streak”. After lengthy discussions with her coach during the off-season, and mapping out a new competitive strategy, Mellisa, from Eckville, Alberta, kicked off the pivotal season by winning her first World Cup in 10 years of racing, and became the first athlete in the history of the sport to never finish out of the top three for the rest of the year. Mellisa won the Overall World Cup title in 2006 and slid to a historic bronze-medal finish in Torino at the Olympic Winter Games – becoming the first Canadian to win a medal in Skeleton.

With a mission of winning Olympic gold, Mellisa was on-pace to achieve her goals at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. With the nation watching, Mellisa headed into those Games ranked number-one in the world with her second Overall World Cup title. Sitting in second spot heading into the final run, Mellisa pushed a personal best start time her final trip down the track but made a costly error while taking a risk to accomplish her mission. Mellisa finished a heart-breaking fifth.

Gutsy, courageous and determined, Mellisa earned a spot at her 3rd Olympics in 2014 Sochi, Russia. The weather was not on her side on Day 1, but in her final competitive run she tied for 2nd with fellow Canadian Sarah Reid & retired as the Winningest Female in the World in the sport of Skeleton.

Mellisa grew up as a country girl on a ranch. Raised around horses on the family ranch, rodeo was a tradition richly ingrained in this naturally gifted Alberta rancher. When Mellisa was not pursuing excellence in a multitude of sports, she was often and still can be found riding horses or competing in barrel racing. Currently, Mellisa is a Realtor at the Dusty Smith Team, Royal LePage Network Realty, Broadcaster for CBC during Calgary Stampede & most recently was a competitor on “The Amazing Race Canada” – Heroes Edition.

To register for MIF2019, visit www.munisight.com/mif.

MuniSight AG-Mobile is here

AG-Mobile is a weed and pest infestation add-on housed within our MuniSight Mobile application that lets you collect field data and create inspection reports allowing you to manage infestations from wherever you are.

Simplify weed and pest inspections

Use your Android or iOS device to collect AG information in the field.

Built with AG Field Personnel in mind

Tailored for AG operations.

Create inspection reports easily

Dynamic and insightful reporting.

For details, visit https://www.munisight.com/ag-mobile.

There are two main use cases for AG-Mobile: inspectors who are out in the field tracking infestations, and managers planning and coordinating infestation management from the office. See our new video demos for more information on each user.

AG-Mobile Inspector Demo

AG-Mobile Manager Demo

Contact support@munisight.com to get started today.

Join us at the 2019 Municipal Innovation Forum!

MuniSight welcomes back its annual User Conference in 2019, presented in a new format – the Municipal Innovation Forum.

The Municipal Innovation Forum will provide an opportunity for municipal administrators to connect and learn from experts in the field of municipal innovation. The event will be taking place on September 12 & 13, 2019 at the Fantasyland Hotel at West Edmonton Mall. In order to facilitate an active event, the agenda has been split up into two days:

Day 1: MuniSight Focus (Sept 12, 2019)

  • Get up to speed on new MuniSight products

  • Gain insights on new MuniSight developments coming soon

  • Provide feedback on areas for future development

  • GIS workshops for QGIS, Hexagon Geomedia, and Munisight Webmap

  • Take time to network with colleagues from other municipalities

Day 2: Municipal Focus (Sept 13, 2019)

  • Learn about innovative solutions from other municipalities

  • Learn about new and emerging municipal technologies

  • Keynote talks from

Our keynote speaker(s) will be announced in the coming weeks, but to start we are excited to share that our friends from AAG and Titan GPS, as well as familiar faces from MuniSight, will be among the speaking lineup!

Early bird pricing for the event is available before June 1, 2019, and is limited to 30% of the available tickets. For more information on the event and to register, please visit the Municipal Innovation  Forum website:

www.munisight.com/mif

MuniSight now supports QGIS

For over 15 years, MuniSight has been dedicated to providing our Municipal clients with the very best software and services. As part of that commitment, MuniSight has decided to start providing technical support for QGIS software.

QGIS is a powerful and technical GIS software that can be used to execute complex GIS tasks. The majority of municipalities (including our clients) would not require a program like this, as the program’s functionality exceeds what they would need. That said, a select few of our clients do want to push the envelope of GIS technology in their municipality, and we are excited to help them do so by supporting the QGIS product.

MuniSight’s commitment to QGIS does not change how we will support our Hexagon GeoMedia clients. For over 7 years, MuniSight has strived to provide the highest quality of GeoMedia support, and we plan on continuing to do so for a long time. Our commitment to QGIS simply gives our clients access to another GIS software, should they choose to pursue one.

We are excited to see the benefits that some of our clients will gain from using advanced GIS technology, like QGIS.

What is QGIS?

QGIS is an open source GIS application. The program can be used, free of charge, as a desktop GIS software. QGIS is a very technical GIS software program, that can be used to complete many tasks, including:

  • Bulk feature information updates;

  • Custom cartography; and

  • Custom data analysis and spatial queries, etc.

What is open source software?

In general, open source software is a type of software licensing agreement. It essentially grants users the right to develop, change, and distribute the software free of charge. It is important to note that not all open source software abides by the same licence agreement, so it is important to get familiar with the terms of any software of this nature.

Open source software is typically developed in a collaborative public manner. This means that anyone can contribute improvements by making changes to the source code. Open source softwares do follow release cycles, so any code that is added is checked before a release is dispatched.

Why is MuniSight supporting QGIS?

Some MuniSight clients have advanced needs that can be better addressed by using a technical GIS software (like Hexagon GeoMedia, QGIS, Esri, etc.).

For over 7 years, MuniSight has been supporting the Hexagon GeoMedia software. In order to give our clients access to more options, the decision was made to start supporting QGIS as well.

How can I access QGIS?

QGIS can be downloaded at the following website:

https://qgis.org/en/site/forusers/download.html

How can I access QGIS support?

The QGIS community provides a User Manual and Training Guide, for QGIS users. These guides are regularly updated as new software releases come out, and can be found here:

https://qgis.org/en/docs/index.html

MuniSight can provide technical support for the QGIS product, including everything from installation to troubleshooting. Feel free to contact MuniSight Support with any questions that you may have.

For more information about QGIS:

QGIS website (https://qgis.org/en/site/index.html)

AG-Mobile Launches March – Call for Beta Testers!

MuniSight is excited to announce that MuniSight AG-Mobile is launching March 19, 2019.  AG-Mobile lets you collect field data and create inspection reports allowing you to manage weed and pest infestations from wherever you are.

Simplify weed and pest inspections

Use your Android or iOS device to collect AG information in the field.

Built with AG Field Personnel in mind

Tailored for AG operations.

Create inspection reports easily

Dynamic and insightful reporting.

For more information on the application, please visit the AG-mobile web page.

As we are entering the final stages of development we need your help. We are looking for experienced MuniSight users to provide beta testing that will give us crucial information on the AG-Mobile application.  If you are interested in becoming a MuniSight Beta Tester please sign up below and our Support Team will be in contact with you in the coming weeks!

Sign up to be a Beta Tester

Enhancing Personal Relationships at Scale – POD Service Model

How was MuniSight able to double its client base within a year, without losing that person-person interaction? This post explains MuniSight’s POD based service model, and how we arrived at that solution.

About our business, and our client’s requests

Municipal governments have unique needs – they don’t behave like businesses, and they certainly don’t behave like consumers.

Based on MuniSight’s experience, Municipalities require person-person interactions to help advise their decision making. Although we do receive many “transactional” requests that are quite simple to execute, we also receive a relatively high number of complex requests that cannot be solved by following a step-by-step guide. In a sense, a lot of these requests are almost like consulting activities – giving advice on how to tackle a specific problem. It is not uncommon for us to receive requests that take 20 man-hours to resolve. For this reason, the person-person interaction is key, and therefore MuniSight has always serviced its customers in a way that is a bit different than most other software or service companies.

Before – large pool support model

Since MuniSight’s start in 2002, and up until last year, the way that we served our clients remained relatively unchanged. The process was quite simple – a client request would come into our support line (phone or email), it would be triaged by a Technician, and then the request would be assigned to another Technician for completion. The triage part was the only step with any degree of complexity, and involved a Technician reviewing the request as soon as it came in and writing guidelines on how to solve the request after trying to understand what the client was asking for. The triage step was critical in ensuring that our team prioritized requests properly, and processed requests most efficiently.

Before: Large Pool Support Model

This model worked very well when we had a small number of clients, and when that number of clients did not change (in other words, when we were not growing). The model worked because we were able to quickly dispatch requests into a large pool of technicians, with different areas of expertise and focus, so we could always find the right person for the job. In addition, having a small client base enabled us to maintain strong person-person relationships, to make sure that our clients got the most out of our services.

The large pool model came under strain when our business started to grow. In early 2018 our business started to gain traction with new clients across Canada. Consequentially, our service team had to grow from 6 technicians to 11 technicians in one year to keep up with the demand. When this growth happened, the person-person relationships were lost, causing clients to become frustrated with how we communicated with them. Many things got lost in correspondence, causing MuniSight to drop the ball on many service requests.

After – POD support model

MuniSight’s service team started to see signs of a decrease in service quality as early as April 2018, due to the team’s inability to keep up with our growth. Our business did a good job of hiring talented team members as we grew, but no matter how many team members we hired, we could never seem to keep up.

“In the POD model, each client has access to a dedicated set of Technicians.”

After consultation with our clients, and senior members of our service staff, we concluded that the person-person interactions had been lost as our business grew. Because we know that the person-person interaction is so important to Municipal Governments, we decided that we had to try to find a way to find that place again – and along came the idea of a POD model.

The concept of the POD model is quite simple. We asked ourselves this: instead of channeling all requests through one technician and then delegating tasks to specialist technicians (large pool model), why don’t we pair up teams of technicians with teams of clients? So, we took our team of 13 technicians, divided them into 3 balanced groups, and then paired each of these groups with a set of clients. We then built a system to process incoming client emails and phone calls, so that they would be automatically routed to the correct group of technicians. Emails from clients in the 2nd POD, go to the POD-2 Technicians, while phone calls from the 3rd POD, go to Technicians in POD-3, etc, etc.

In the POD model, each client has access to a dedicated set of Technicians.

Now: POD Service Model

This change was beneficial for a few reasons:

  • Better Client-Technician communication – It enabled technicians to work directly with clients, instead of having to go through a request dispatcher;

  • Improved Technician knowledge – Technicians became more familiar with the unique considerations of each client’s deployment, so their solutions were better tailored to the client’s needs;

  • Building Client-Technician relationships – Clients were able to develop a better relationship with our technicians because they interacted with them on a more frequent basis;

  • Increased “Time on Tools” – our Technicians now spend more time doing work, rather than trying to figure out what work to do;

  • Better Client empathy – strong person-person interactions enable our Technicians to get to know the challenges that our customers face, and adapt solutions to best meet those needs; and

  • Improved Technician collaboration – now that our technicians are in small teams, they work better as a team. Communication in a group of 4, seems much more effective than communication in a group of 13.

We took the time to strategically design each client POD, by grouping clients with similar needs together (Albertan Towns together, Manitoban Rural Municipalities together, etc), which helps our technicians become familiar with the differences between client regions. On the Technician side, we designed each group to be well-rounded by putting technicians with varying skillsets, and experience, together.

Even though the POD model has made a significant net-positive impact on our clients, there have been some downsides, including:

  • Email first response time has gotten longer – because we no longer have a dedicated dispatch technician, it usually takes longer for us to get back to a client when they file a request;

  • Technician training requirements have increased – to ensure that each POD has qualified and capable technicians, MuniSight has had to invest more resources into training our Technicians on various areas of support and service. For example, now all Technicians need to be trained at how to communicate properly with clients, instead of just one Technician being capable in the large pool model;

  • Lower work-rate efficiency – because Technicians are no longer pigeon-holed into specific tasks, they are now generally less efficient at doing specific tasks; and

  • Customer support cost has increased – increased training requirements, and a lower work-rate efficiency, have increased the overall cost that MuniSight has to pay to support its clients.

It is worthwhile to note that we also experimented and considered other support/service models, such as tier-based support. In a tier-based system, requests are gradually escalated through tiers of technicians to help try and make service delivery more effective. Although this would have lowered MuniSight’s customer support cost, we found that it was very impersonal, and therefore would not meet our client’s needs.

Getting better today, then we were yesterday

Even though we have made improvements to how we deliver service to our clients, we are still hungry to improve. So, we openly invite any Client, or anyone for that matter, to weigh in with their thoughts on our new customer support model. So far, both MuniSight’s Clients and the company itself have been happy with the change, and we look forward to hearing any ideas on how to further improve. Contact us with any comments or questions that you may have.