Civic News
Municipal government / Technology

This app gets fire hydrants fixed a week faster (and saves the city $17k a year)

It's no small task to inspect and maintain the city's 25,000 fire hydrants every year, but a new city app is making the job easier and saving the city money, too.

It’s no small task to inspect and maintain the city’s 25,000 fire hydrants every year, but a new city app is making the job easier and saving the city money, too.

The Fire Department and the Water Department work together to ensure that the city’s hydrants are working properly: the Fire Department inspects the hydrants and delivers that data to the Water Department, which repairs broken hydrants. For years, Fire Department staffers recorded the hydrant data by hand on manila cards. A Water Department staffer would then enter it into a computer and the work orders for broken hydrants would go from there.

Now, thanks to an app built by public safety senior GIS developer Paul Woodruff, everything is electronic.

The new app used by the Water Department and the Fire Department in inspecting fire hydrants.

The manila cards are no more, resulting in a savings of $17,000 a year for the city, said Larry Szarek, the Water Department’s GIS manager. It cost the city $17,000 a year to print the cards, Szarek said.

Now, the Fire Department can easily see which hydrants have been inspected and which have not, a capability the staffers didn’t have before.

The app also cuts a week off fire hydrant repair time. In the past, it took about a week for the fire hydrant data to be shuttled between departments and manually entered into a database, Szarek said. Now, the Water Department gets the data immediately and in turn, can get to broken hydrants faster.

Companies: Philadelphia Fire Department / Philadelphia Water Department

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