Ebook: Choosing the Right Municipal Software

One of the most important long-term administrative decision processes that municipalities go through is large software purchases. Municipal governments use software for financial/payroll systems, human resources, record keeping, permit tracking, asset management, planning and development, emergency management, recreation planning, and more.

All too often, half-fixes and fancy software solutions that no one knows how to use have become the norm in government, but the costs in money, time, and political reputation simply aren’t worth taking the easy way out. The goal is to fix a problem, not to just buy software.

MuniSight has created a new Ebook that helps you through the process of buying new software for your municipal government.  The purpose of the Ebook is to give you the right questions to ask your team and your considered vendor(s) as you decide on the best solution to the problem your municipality faces. Download it today from our Resources page, or from the link below!

Download Ebook

New Help Portal Material is here!

Recently we introduced the MuniSight Help Portal giving you answers to frequently asked questions and access to step-by-step instructions on performing common tasks within MuniSight.

Since we have launched the Help Portal we have added new sections on Asset Management Planning, and on our Mobile application (which officially launches on January 10th). We have also added a new how-to article under the Webmap section.

Some new articles to see:

AMP – Training Guide
MuniSight AMP is a new MuniSight offering that helps municipalities start asset management planning, or bring their current asset management practices to a new level. This training guide includes helpful “how-to’s” on how to use the Asset Inventory Report, how to change asset attributes, and how to create an assessment for an asset.

Municipal Asset Management Planning

This article outlines the importance of asset management planning, typical municipal asset management objectives, and gives an overview of what is included in an asset management plan.

Mobile – Overview

This article shows how to navigate the soon-launching MuniSight Mobile application, how to manage GIS layers, how to view and edit feature information, how to collect asset information and more.

Visit the MuniSight Help Portal at

MuniSight is dedicated to your municipal success. We will continue to adapt and expand the Help Portal to include the topics you want to learn more about. If there is a topic you would like to see covered, reach out to us.

Asset Management – The Guiding Principles

Asset Management is essential to running an effective municipality. Earlier this year, we discussed what Asset Management is and how municipalities can benefit. In this post, we will dig a little deeper and uncover the keys to Asset Management success.

The following key principles are the basic, and fundamental propositions that serve as the foundations of Asset Management. Regardless of how an Asset Management plan is constructed, the following principles should always be kept in mind:

  • Assets Support Municipal Objectives – Municipal governments can strategically invest in assets to progress their municipal objectives. Appropriately managing assets based on objectives allows municipalities to use their assets in the most effective way possible.

  • Asset Management is a “Way of Thinking” – Asset Management is not a report or a software system. It is a learned mindset that allows administrators to get the most value out of a municipal asset, as efficiently as possible. It ensures that ratepayers receive the appropriate level of use from a municipal asset while minimizing the cost.

  • Asset Management is the Great Evaluator – the principles of Asset Management are most effective when considering trade-offs. Although Asset Management reporting is important, the true value from the implementation of Asset Management comes to the forefront when evaluating two options that require investment and deciding which one to pursue.

  • It is a Continuous Process – Asset Management is not stagnant. It is a process whereby plans and systems are continuously refined and improved. No matter where a Municipality starts in their Asset Management journey, their goal should be to focus on getting better today and tomorrow.

  • Prioritization is Key –  No Asset Management system will ever be “complete”. Municipalities must prioritize the assets that warrant the most attention, based on their importance to the municipality.

  • It Takes a Multi-disciplinary Approach – Asset Management expertise should not be confined to one department within a government. Each service area in a municipality needs to be knowledgeable on Asset Management principles so that they can work together to build a comprehensive view of how to best manage municipal assets.

  • Asset Management is Fit for Purpose – Not all municipal Asset Management Plans will be the same. Plans should be built to fit the requirements of the municipality, and therefore will be different between municipalities. For example, a small town may be focused on different priorities than a sprawling rural municipality.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

Chinese Proverb

Our advice is always to start today – no matter where your starting point is. Asset Management Planning is not a one-time project, but rather a continuous process that evolves over time. So, whether you are a municipality that has a full Asset Management Plan in place or a municipality that doesn’t have any asset information, the goal remains the same; make your Asset Management Plan better today, than it was yesterday.

Schedule an asset management consultation today

MuniSight helps you facilitate continuous improvement of your Asset Management Plan, no matter where you are at in the process. Our solution highlights missing information, to enable any municipality to focus on gathering the information that matters. In fact, we recommend gathering asset information over a long time period, instead of feeling the need to gather all possible information before you start.

MuniSight AG: Creating a weed inspection

MuniSight AG provides a digital process for collecting and reporting on weed infestations. The video below demonstrates how to create a new weed inspection in an existing case.

Learn how to

  • find an existing case

  • attach photos and files to an inspection

  • frame your snapshot

  • generate an infestation report

Want to jump to a specific part of the inspection?

00:00 – Find an existing case

01:20 – Update the Owner and Property Information

02:35 – Add weeds to a case

02:55 – Add a new inspection

04:05 – Add abundance for the weeds

05:05 – Edit the infestation polygon

06:15 – Attach photos and files to an inspection

07:10 – Update Next Action

07:45 – Preview the Inspection Report

Feel free to reach out to MuniSight Support for further assistance on collecting weed infestations with MuniSight AG.

FCM: Municipal Guide to Cannabis Legalization

This month, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) released a report pertaining to the impact of upcoming Cannabis Legalization on Municipal Governments. Some highlights of the report are noted below, while the link to the full report can be found here (Municipal Guide to Cannabis Legalization).

Getting the legalization of Cannabis right, will depend on Government. The development, implementation, and enforcement of regulations pertaining to Cannabis will have a profound effect on how well, legalized non-medical, cannabis is introduced to Canadians. Getting this right will depend on all levels of government.

Municipal Governments will bear a significant amount of responsibility. While the Federal Government has made the Cannabis commitment, and Provincial Governments are responsible regulations pertaining to distribution amongst other things, Municipal Governments will bear most of the responsibility with the operational aspects of the changes. These operational aspects, such as Zoning, Business Regulations, Enforcement, etc. are expected to be quite significant. Municipal Governments must be prepared to address these challenges by ensuring that they have the resources and systems in place to manage the change.

The FCM’s full report can be found here.

Asset Management in Municipal Administrations

What is Asset Management?

Though it may seem like a simple question, the answer can be a bit complex. The term “Asset Management” is typically used as a catch-all to describe a variety of things, and is often used by software providers to describe their product. It is important for municipal governments to understand what Asset Management means in the municipal context, when deciding on if to adopt an asset management system.

First thing is first – Don’t focus on the term “Asset Management”. Focus on the functionality.

The definition of asset management changes from company to company, and from region to region, so above all else, it is important that you focus on what the proposed system does. For example, does the system track maintenance history on an asset, does it help with scheduling resources for maintenance activities, or does it assess the risk associated with the failure of that asset? Each one of these features offer drastically different types of value to a municipal administration.

Because the Asset Management term can be vague, it is important to understand what the needs and wants of your municipality are. Once you have this understanding, you can then try and match your needs to any system’s application, keeping in mind that the application’s functionality is more important than its name. With that being said, there are three general categories of asset management systems in the market today – work order management, fixed asset registry, and asset management planning systems.

Type 1: Work order management

This system type can be described as a “break/fix” asset management system – they track asset “breaks”, and help issue work orders against those assets so that maintenance crews can “fix” them. These solutions are most often used by the Public Works department of a municipality, help keep maintenance activities organized, and help forecast short-term (within 18 months) maintenance requirements. GIS systems are the foundation of these programs, as they provide location data, and can house information about the asset (road classification, etc).

Type 2: Fixed Asset Registry

Fixed Asset Registry systems are typically used by municipalities to have firm grip on which assets are in the municipality, by building a registry (list) of assets. A fixed Asset Registry is most heavily used in Finance and Accounting, when determining the book value of assets, by considering depreciation. Financial depreciation rates can be calculated in many ways, and they are generally not very good for forecasting asset failures or asset maintenance requirements.

Type 3: Asset Management Planning

Asset Management Planning is all about understanding the quality, and reliability, of a service that rate-payers receive from a municipal asset. You can regard this form of Asset Management as the 30,000-foot view.

When completing an Asset Management Plan, it is important to include the following considerations:

  • Asset inventory – what assets do we have?

  • Asset condition – what is the relative condition of these assets?

  • Level of service – are the assets providing enough service to the rate-payers, or are they any gaps?

  • Asset risk – are there any assets that are at risk of failing, and if so, what is the consequence of such a failure?

  • Policies – what policies do we need to put in place to ensure that our assets are managed properly?

Once again, GIS systems can be a great foundation for building out an Asset Management Planning system.

Getting started on Asset Management

For any municipality wanting to get started on Asset Management, it is important for them to be prepared with the necessary resources in place. Because Asset Management is a process that evolves over time, and not a project that is stagnant, making sure that the appropriate resources are in place to execute a project is essential.

Before embarking on establishing an Asset Management system, a municipality may want to consider getting the following resources in place:

  • Commitment establishing a system, from the Municipality’s Administration

  • Financial resources, for software systems or external consultants

  • Personnel resources:

    • Set-up team: to ensure that there is an internal team that has the authority, and the skills required, to steer the set-up of the system to completion

    • Operational team: to ensure that the system remains up-to-date, and operational, after it is set-up


Asset Management solutions can significantly help a municipality improve their operations, but it is important for Municipality to understand their own priorities and needs before selecting which form, or which combination of forms, of asset management best suit their needs. It is also important to note that all Asset Management systems are not one-and-done projects, but rather living-breathing processes that need to be continuously evolving.

MuniSight’s team is happy to help give guidance to any municipality that interested in implementing an Asset Management system.

How Connecting Data Leads to Better Reporting

Efficient data collection leads to better reporting.

Whenever you need to provide data to anyone, chances are you think of how to present data report without even looking at the source of the data.

But, if you work with data, you know that it flows like a stream. And, when we need to obtain data or need assistance doing so, it helps to know which part of that stream needs assistance.

Below, we’ve put together a few steps that make up the flow of data as a way for you to assess the quality of your own data collecting process and, in turn, improve your reporting to your municipality.

What Data Do You Have to Collect?

The first step involves identifying and defining your data elements or leads. So, identify what you need to collect for reporting purposes, and what you need for internal monitoring and planning – and why.

In this first step, then, you should identify data elements that are necessary for your reporting purposes, as well as those necessary for program purposes, like monitoring and evaluating so as to improve your overall capacity to meet your municipality and your constituent’s needs.

Where Will You Find the Data That You Need?

The next step is to identify the data sources, or where you can find what you need. Think about where the data you need resides, and even in how many different places. There may be some places that are easier to acquire data from than others.

Next, figure out what it takes to get the necessary data, when, where, and also how. This includes elements such as requesting the data, capturing it, recording it, and storing the data from your identified sources.

How to Collect Your Data

The whole point is to collect data to improve reporting, so you also need to consider how you will collect the data. In this step, you could:

  • Modify or develop the necessary data collection tools to make sure you’re collecting all your required targeted data.

  • Define and communicate how the data ought to be collected and submitted for reporting purposes. At this point, you could provide the tools for direct entry to a database.

  • Make sure that the data is stored appropriately so as to prevent untoward or inappropriate access or theft due to system breakdown.

  • Finally, implement and communicate your standards of confidentiality, security, and privacy to protect the data.

Quality Procedures and Validation of Data

During data collection, how can you tell if the data that you collect is good and that it accurately reflects what you want to report? You need to validate it.

During step four, you need to design and then implement procedures to examine the data in terms of:

  • Completeness

  • Confidentiality

  • Validity

  • Integrity

  • Timeliness

  • Reliability

By carrying out these procedures, you can also include communication and training along with system checks and data quality improvement measures.


At the end of the day, good data quality is the foundation of a good report. Ensuring that you are capturing the right information for your reporting needs is a crucial part of building insights on your municipal information.

4 Ways to Learn More About Your Constituents

 Photo: Brant, AB, Canada

The key to learning more about your constituents is to be accessible

At its best, getting to know your constituents should be about dialogue, engagement, and interaction.

As a municipality, you have important information to share, so it’s important that your constituents can tune in and remain engaged.

Your constituents, even if it doesn’t feel like it from time to time, are watching you, and they do want to be kept in the loop. They want to know that you have a grasp of the community’s issues and needs. They want to know what you’re working on. They want to know that they can rely on you to finish anything you start.

But, how do you reach out, start that conversation, and get to know more about them?

Let Them Know You’re Ready to Engage

To find out what your constituents are thinking, let them know you’re ready and waiting to hear from them. In other words, make yourself accessible. Let them know you are, indeed, a real, live active person.

Let’s look at 4 ways you can do just that.

1. Pop on Social Media

From Twitter to YouTube, Tumblr, Facebook, the list is almost endless. Using social media lets you manage both your image and your platform at the same time. You can connect with your constituents, engage them, and encourage them to join the conversation.

Pop onto your social media platforms regularly to interact personally with your community. Let the people you serve hear from you directly and let them share what’s on their minds.

Social media serves well as a platform from which to announce any meetings where you want to engage the public, too, and you could even set up social media groups for each meeting so that those who aren’t able to attend, can still voice their opinion.

2. Landing Pages

With pretty much everyone hanging out online these days, a landing page is a must for your campaigns. You can choose to have a site created that is wholly informative, or one that is designed to collect your constituent’s information so that you can learn more about them from their data.

Research has been conducted by the likes of The Corporate Executive Board and Google, and Forrester about the importance of building strong emotional connections online with customers, and the same can certainly be applied to your constituents.

3. Text Messaging

Text messages are a great way to spread information and even have two-way conversations. At its most basic, broadcast messages are similar to broadcast email. That means you can send a message to every number subscribed to your list.

Getting your community to subscribe can be as easy as encouraging them to sign up on your website or landing page.

4. Interactive Email Campaigns

The mobile inbox is highly prevalent these days, and arguably one of the greatest shifts in today’s marketing efforts. Interactive emails allow you to reach your constituents in real time with messages that pack a powerful punch.

Focus on the Conversation

Whenever and however you reach out to your community, make it a two-way conversation. Be encouraging, intimate, and accessible. Be accountable. Most of all, make it easy for them to find you, be it on social media, through your landing page, via email, or on the phone.

Don’t forget to thank and inspire your community for having a conversation.

Image: Flickr

What is new in MuniSight Advanced Edition & Spatial Editing

What is new

Find out more about MuniSight’s new features in Advanced Edition, including:

• Easier navigation

• Redlines save between sessions

• Measurement tools have a dynamic label and display on the map

• Simplified editing

• Smart Search

• Navigation from within the overview map

Spatial Editing

Edit graveling in the MuniSight Advanced Edition!

  • Simplified editing process

  • Edit information from the map

  • Create and edit features from the legend

  • View and edit features side by side in the map

MuniSight in action!

MuniSight: Advanced Edition is our best software yet. The videos below show examples of how our software helps you perform daily tasks better and faster!

Get rate-payer information quickly and efficiently!

Use MuniSight to:

  • Quickly gather information on a parcel

  • Efficiently locate a parcel of land

  • View various layers of information

Build a list of adjacent land owners with a few clicks!

Use MuniSight to:

  • Efficiently and accurately build a list of adjacent land parcels

  • Export a list of landowners for a mail merge