Cupertino Member Maintains City GIS Program


City of Cupertino population: 60,000
Number of trees in Cupertino:  21,511

If there were a trivia game for super-detailed information about Silicon Valley cities, Andy Badal would be the undisputed champion.

Trees are a substantial part of the landscape and feel of the City of Cupertino, making it important to catalog and maintain the City’s topiaries.  City workers do that utilizing GIS: Geographic Information Systems.  Andy is Cupertino’s Asset Management Technician and a Member of Local 21’s Cupertino Employees’ Association.

GIS has become imperative for large entities like municipal governments to gather, manage and analyze data.  Like Cupertino’s 21,511 trees.  Picture a map of Cupertino with layers of every tree or every building featuring detailed information for each. When was each tree planted?  When was the last time it was trimmed, or treated to repel pests? 

“GIS allows us to put assets onto a map, and to build out the City’s inventory geographically,” Andy said.  “It gives us a living history of our assets, like trees, signs, roadways, buildings.”

That tracking and maintenance helps staff better manage taxpayer money.

Cupertino utilizes the Cityworks GIS program, which also can automatically create work orders for certain assets like preventative maintenance.  Processes
are integrated and utilize less paper.

“It’s taking normal day-to-day tasks and streamlining them.  It allows us to talk to other departments (via the software) without actually having to talk to them.” Andy said. 

City signs are so common it’s easy to overlook them.  Cupertino currently has 10,395 active signs cataloged via GIS.  Another 768 have been retired but are kept in the database for historical data. 

There are 73 facilities at 24 sites in the GIS directory.  These facilities range from a small bathroom at a City park to large spaces like City Hall.

How detailed is Cupertino’s system?  They have tagged roadway raised pavement markers, the bumps that separate lanes of traffic.

Andy trains staff on the GIS software and equips them with tablets for use in the field. 

He said teamwork is vital to the success of the program – managers recognizing the field workers’ expertise and staff wanting to work more effectively. 

That teamwork was honored at a Cityworks conference in May, where Cupertino was acknowledged for Excellence in Departmental Practice – and for their Urban Forest.  Andy, Teri Gerhardt, GIS Manager, and James Steed, Lead Maintenance Worker in Trees, presented “From Fleet to Forest: Citywide Success in Cupertino.”

And the concern that technology like GIS replaces people?

“It’s actually been the opposite for us.  It gives us the data to fight for more staffing, to track our work productivity,” Andy said. “We’ve seen better management of projects, and it has made it easier for us to fight for new positions in the labor force.”

Now that all City Public Works divisions are in the GIS database, Andy is working to fill in gaps and missing data.

“The kind of work we do, we’re always in the public eye, but Cupertino speaks for itself,” Andy said. “When you enter Cupertino, you notice the paved roads, the medians, the parks and the trees.  We’re a small entity, so it’s easier for us.  But everyone wants to go above and beyond and do what they can.  It shows for itself.”



 Above: Cupertino workers use their tablet to update the City’s GIS information.


Above:  Cupertino workers are honored at the May Cityworks conference for Excellence in Departmental Practice.