A SUCCESS STORY: CITY OF CUPERTINO MIGRATES TO THE GEOSPATIAL CLOUD

The City engaged an experienced Esri Business Partner, Quartic Solutions, to do the initial planning and deployment of the City of Cupertino's ArcGIS Enterprise on AWS. The city moved from a single, internal server hosting both ArcGIS Server and SQL Server to a multi-service AWS deployment.

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The City was able to significantly improve the daily processes for their mobile workforce and streamline the integration of their GIS and EAM in the field. 

A WINNING PROPOSITION

While Cloud computing is becoming the mainstream, many organizations are moving their on-premise GIS infrastructure to the Cloud. The Cloud offers many advantages to Location-Based applications by increasing the scalability, flexibility and deployment speed of underlying hardware. At the City of Cupertino, CA the decision to move their Esri Enterprise GIS system to Amazon Web Services Cloud (AWS) has been a winning proposition, and has reduced internal infrastructure administration costs, enabled better integration between their business systems, and increased the number of staff utilizing the multitude of new Esri Cloud based GIS tools, templates and solutions.

The City engaged an experienced Esri Business Partner, Quartic Solutions, to do the initial planning and deployment of the City of Cupertino's ArcGIS Enterprise on AWS. The city moved from a single, internal server hosting both ArcGIS Server and SQL Server to a multi-service AWS deployment. One of the main forces behind the Cloud migration was the the City's use of the Cityworks Enterprise Asset Management system (EAM). The City’s legacy architecture required field crews to either checkout data replicas each day, or maintain a continuous VPN connection from ruggedized laptops. Both of these approaches created were difficult to maintain and time consuming for field crews and also required significant technical support from both the GIS and IT Departments.

By making the decision to externalize the Esri map services and Cityworks  geodatabases, the City was able to significantly improve the daily processes for their mobile workforce and streamline the integration of their GIS and EAM in the field.  In order to alleviate security concerns, the City’s IT Department decided to use an Amazon EC2 instance in order to completely separate the Esri ArcGIS services needed from the City's internal network.  This architecture eliminated the need for a reverse proxy and in turn, increased the overall security of the City’s infrastructure.

The project has been so successful that it rapidly grew in scale and scope. With the mobile workforce editing both GIS and EAM data securely in real time, in the field, the City’s utilization of GIS services grew. An RDS instance was added to handle the increasing database load and the scale of the EC2 instance was increased several times to accommodate a growing number of map services and users as new departments have implemented Cityworks.

THE CITY'S FORMER ON-PREMISE INFRASTRUCTURE

The City’s former infrastructure consisted of a single, physical server running ArcGIS Server and SQl Server Express. The SQL Server instance contained two databases, a geodatabase and the Cityworks database for work order management. This server was on the City’s network behind its firewall.

Field crews used one of two different products to do asset management.  

  1. The first solution was an offline solution that allowed editing of GIS features. Crews would start the day by creating a checkout replica on their field toughbooks and head out to the field to do work. At the end of the day they would return to the office and check-in the replica. The checkout/check-in process was cumbersome and error prone. It also resulted in a lot more time in the yard for crews and less time out in the field.
  2. The second solution used wireless network 4G connections and a VPN to connect to the City's network. This solution was very dependent on network strength and could be very slow. Map pan and draw times would regularly timeout and edits to GIS features and work orders would be lost.
cupertino using the app
Cupertino using the app

STEPPING INTO THE GEOSPATIAL CLOUD

With the professional services of Esri Business Partner Quartic Solutions, the City stepped into the Cloud infrastructure. The first step was to migrate from the primary existing on-premise server to a publicly accessible replicated AWS EC2 instance. As with the on-premise server, the EC2 instance contained both the Esri ArcGIS Enterprise components and a SQL Server database.

Two-way geodatabase replicas were used to keep the internal geodatabases and public geodatabases insync. SQL Server contained two databases, one for Cityworks and a new geodatabase containing a subset of the feature classes of the main on-premise geodatabase. The subset consisted of all the public works feature classes that would be used and edited by Cityworks and the public works field crews. This allowed the field crews to update assets in the field while simultaneously allowing the GIS department to perform the more rigorous GIS edits when required.

The next step was to move the internal REST-based map services needed by the crews to the Cloud. Esri map services that had previously been used by Cityworks from within the City's network were recreated on the new ArcGIS Server install on AWS. The transition was smooth and immediate results were very positive. Field crews found their workflows greatly simplified, GIS needed to spend less time assisting with the mobile units, and IT was happy with the security model, as none of the internal servers needed exposure to the outside.

GEOSPATIAL CLOUD SUPPORTS SMART CITY INITIATIVES

The use of both GIS data and the Cityworks EAM software continued to grow as additional City Departments migrated to the new architecture. In addition, the GeoSpatial Cloud architecture enabled the City to build more and more beneficial web applications and easily make them available to the public. For example, the City’s 311 implementation was a tremendous success.

As demand grew, the addition of an AWS RDS instance was required. The RDS instance is entirely within the AWS VPC enabling ArcGIS Enterprise and Cityworks to continue to control access.

With the boom in interest and spread of additional GIS solutions spurred by the Cloud Architecture, the City has recently modified the maintenance process to push a full copy of the on-premise master geodatabase to RDS nightly. This allows up-to-date city reference data such as Landbase and planning data to also be made available quickly and easily to the public through various smart city initiatives the the city has implemented such as tree information service and ESRI open data portal.

The City has also heavily utilised AGOL for internal reporting and metrics through a series of public and private dashboards. These AGOL services are easily able to pull City data from the AWS cloud into authoritative, focused apps used across the City.

The City has also begun enabling crowdsourcing of data collection through public collector apps. These apps are hosted on AGOL and consume ArcGIS Server map services through ArcGIS Server on the AWS EC2 instance.

RESULTS

The City of Cupertino's migration to a cloud platform continues to be a big success and is popular with the stakeholders. There are future plans to expand the approach to include more integration with the city’s network through OAuth and single sign on.

Even for smaller-sized Cities such as Cupertino, migrating to Cloud infrastructure can have a profound impact on staff’s ability to take advantage of GIS technology. For Cupertino utilizing Cloud infrastructure has not only streamlined internal operations, but has also enabled the City to truly provide Open Data and Government Transparency to its Citizens.

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READY TO MIGRATE TO THE CLOUD?

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