Supporting Municipal Growth Through Accurate GIS

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October 23, 2017 –

The City of Tiffin, Iowa has joined the fast growing list of cities across the Midwest, committed to utilizing their taxpayers dollars responsibly for accurate, successful utility GIS programs.

The city’s leadership recognized a need for accurate utility mapping and inventory of features within the sanitary sewer, water distribution, and storm sewer networks.  Presently relying on a paper mapping system, the extreme economic growth currently happening within the city has created much challenge for staff in maintaining, as well as in planning and development of the utility infrastructure necessary to handle the increased capacity.  In addition, the city staff wanted to ensure that they would have a mobile, user-friendly way to utilize the GIS data, to edit, track maintenance and activities within the system, produce work orders, and support capital planning.

GPS accuracy and data collection processes can vary greatly.  Although, Tiffin considered vehicle-mounted photogrammetric data collection and drone aerial photography, they ultimately selected RTK Survey Grade Field GPS data collection and field inspections.  When executed by an experienced field crew, RTK Survey-Grade Data Collection delivers +-2cm accuracy GPS for horizontal and vertical.  Accurate elevations from these GPS points are especially crucial to sanitary sewer and storm water utilities in capacity needs and expansion projects. They are necessary to calculate slope, slope distance, invert elevation, linear footage, and pipe depth between points.

Tiffin’s city staff recommended Midland GIS Solutions, and on September 19, 2017, city council unanimously approved the firm for Tiffin’s GIS project.  Doug Boldt, City Administrator for the City of Tiffin emphasized that Midland’s method of GPS collection and GIS development of underground infrastructure information were the deciding factor on which firm and technology  to chose. “With the major growth our community has and continues to experience, as a city we cannot afford to potentially be backtracking due to poor accuracy in our GIS mapping.”

The expert GIS field technicians for Midland GIS will be working directly within the community of Tiffin, utilizing RTK Survey Grade to locate all the utility structures. In addition to the best accuracy in utility GPS mapping, field technicians will open every manhole and provide a full top-side inspection to note signs of inflow, infiltration, and structure defects, as well as attributes.  From there, the utility GIS development group will properly construct the data into a seamless, connected GIS map and a web-based program to manage and perform asset management will be deployed for city staff to use.

Midland GIS is the largest, most experienced full-service GIS firm in the Midwest, but what will benefit the city of Tiffin more than that is the firm’s vast utility understanding.  Midland GIS prides itself on the experience and knowledge of what makes up these systems, how to properly find features and perform data collection, how to draw them accurately, and the information needed by the end user.  The project management and technical staff brings over 125 years of combined electric, sanitary, storm water, and water utility infrastructure experience and understanding to every GIS project.   Consultants and technical staff for Midland GIS are routinely working with professional organizations, state utility training programs, and regulators to better design utility Geodatabases and understand what the utility needs.  Erin Allen, Director of Business Development for Midland GIS added, “Our unique blend of experience positions Midland GIS as the very best in utility GIS.  Utility staff provide essential services that their citizens depend on 24/7.  We could not properly serve them without a solid foundation of utility understanding and GIS expertise.”

For more information on high-accuracy GPS data collection and inspection for utilities, please contact Erin Allen at (660) 215-7091 or