In early 2018, the City of Raleigh implemented a new solution that taps into an active group of “citizen reporters” to improve road maintenance and operational transparency.
Waze—a popular consumer app with more than 100 million active monthly users—allows drivers to share real-time traffic and road information using their smartphones. In 2014, Waze launched its Connected Citizens Program (CCP), a free, two-way data exchange that gives municipalities access to real-time driver reports. As part of this program, Esri presented a proof of concept for integrating Waze CCP data into Cityworks with the help of ArcGIS technology.
“We wanted to find a way to increase public engagement by meeting people on their screens,” said Andrew Stauffer, civic technology lead at Esri. “Waze is a great application for commuters and residents to report issues, and it just felt natural to enable cities to use these reports to help improve traffic and road conditions.”
Esri invited the City of Raleigh to participate as a beta tester for the program, and the city jumped at the chance. The Raleigh IT Department always looks for new opportunities to innovate. The expansion of Cityworks to several city departments has allowed the IT Department to create new relationships and work more closely with other departments to support their business process and improve constituent engagement. The Waze, Esri, and Cityworks integration was a perfect fit.
How It Works
Data comes in from Waze CCP into the ArcGIS GeoEvent Server. In GeoEvent Server, the data is filtered by location and alert type—such as pothole, roadkill, or sign down. Once the data is filtered, a service request is created through the Cityworks API. Cityworks then uses a webhook, configured by the city in Cityworks Designer, that posts the service request information to an ArcGIS Online web map.
From there, the service request follows its normal business process. Field workers see it on their Cityworks mobile app, just as they normally would. Once the request is closed, Cityworks again fires a webhook and updates the status on the web map. In the future, Raleigh hopes to “close the loop,” so a completed service request also updates the Waze user who reported the event.
Configuring the Workflow
The project didn’t require any custom coding. Esri delivered the integration files and documentation. The city imported the GeoEvent Server configuration and set up the Cityworks side. Because Waze uses a different coordinate system (WGS84) than what the city uses in Cityworks (State Plane), the team used a GeoEvent projection processer to handle the conversion on the fly. The team also built a geofence around areas not maintained by the city. All said and done, the project was working within a test environment in less than a week.
The Spark that Lights the Fire
Once the integration went live, the field crews experienced minimal impact. They’re already fixing street signs and potholes and cleaning up roadkill, and they’re accustomed to using the Cityworks mobile app. Waze generates just a few new service requests each week, so demand hasn’t surged dramatically. However, this project proved that it’s OK to experiment with new technologies, and change doesn’t have to have a disrupting impact on staff or end users.
The project has inspired new ideas and new possibilities. For example, the Department of Transportation has expressed interest in working with the IT Department to cross-reference Waze data with other traffic-related inputs such as crash statistics and traffic camera data.
The IT Department is also exploring opportunities to apply this model to other types of real-time scenarios using the Internet of Things. If the Waze user is like a sensor reporting results in the field, then the capabilities of GeoEvent Server, Cityworks API, and webhooks are virtually limitless.
Perhaps even most importantly, the communication between these systems makes city services more accessible to the public. These integrations allow cities to meet residents and visitors where they already are—helping them navigate city services while also improving quality of life citywide.
Written by Chad Foley, enterprise application engineer, City of Raleigh.
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