Preserving Institutional Knowledge and Improving Field Workflows

Aug. 16, 2021
Hallowell Water District implements web GIS

Hallowell Water District is a small water supplier with approximately 850 customers. Zach Lovely, superintendent, is the only full-time employee and serves Hallowell and small areas of Chelsea and Farmingdale, Maine. To help improve efficiency and accuracy in the field, Lovely had a mission to better utilize Hallowell’s maps.

Hallowell’s water system dates back to the late 1800s. While there is some historical documentation, the district didn’t begin thoroughly documenting what went into the ground until the 1970s and 1980s.

“The district got to the point of ArcGIS Desktop that together with current paper maps gave insight into what was in the system and where it was,” Lovely said.

The district often runs on institutional knowledge. When a superintendent retires, the new one starts with only paper maps or computer files as a point of reference. Since water main lines and curb stop points are rarely moved, most asset location information was collected but key pieces and new infrastructure were missing. Lovely wanted to create

an online system of record to make this multidisciplinary

job easier, enable future employees to add and use data every day, and keep institutional knowledge gained by the previous superintendent.

Honey Badger Analytics enables small governments and municipalities with locational analytics that maximize organizational resources while decreasing loss of institutional knowledge.

“We often tell folks that they don’t need to be GIS experts. That’s our job,” said Bradford Folta, ArcGIS architect and owner of Honey Badger Analytics. “Part of our job is to make work easier by demystifying the Esri platform.”

Lovely worked with Honey Badger Analytics to migrate Hallowell Water District from ArcMap to ArcGIS Online. ArcGIS Online is a cloud-based mapping and analysis solution that met and exceed the district’s needs. Lovely uses ArcGIS Online to make maps, analyze data, share, and collaborate. It also enables off-site storage of data, access from anywhere, and use of ArcGIS Hub as the district’s website. ArcGIS Online is now the district’s data storage center.

Using ArcGIS Collector, Lovely can easily capture and edit data from the field. ArcGIS Collector integrates seamlessly with ArcGIS Online and works even when disconnected from the internet.

Lovely and the Honey Badger Analytics team created an accurate system of record, made data easily accessible, and captured institutional knowledge.

Lovely said some of the biggest benefits are the accuracy and accessibility of data and time saved in the field. Lovely said he can look at a map while standing on a site and see shutoffs for each house.

“The time savings is huge because we’ve been able to pinpoint where we have leaks on our map. Down the road, when we’re getting ready to do a main replacement, [we’ll know] where we’ve had issues [in the past],” Lovely said. “Then we can roughly know where we need to put the money moving forward.”

Lovely said the data accuracy and improved efficiency are the best tools he can have while in the field locating water mains, looking for leaks, and otherwise providing service for Hallowell.

“With ArcGIS, I’ve created an accurate and accessible system of record that’s also kept institutional knowledge,” Lovely said. “When I move on, whoever takes over will have the best tool that you can have: GIS.” WW

Esri is an international supplier of geographic information system software, web GIS and geodatabase management applications. Learn more at

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