Supporting public works staff and work activities during the COVID-19 pandemic

May 14, 2020 Bill Grant

COVID-19 and the wide-reaching impacts of local and provincial emergency declarations may have impacted your infrastructure, utility and municipal services. You may be experiencing a reduced workforce or facing challenges with accessing or collecting field data. Yet, the work remains. Here are some things to keep in mind.

  1. Protect the health of field workers. Help them abide to social distancing rules.
    • GIS-based solutions and apps like Tracker can help keep track of your people and where they have been as field crews are being used to maintain assets on essential services.
    • Facilitate staggered shifts to further reduce contact between crews.
    • Where possible, have field staff meet remotely rather than on-site. For example, use the Workforce Starter Solution to interact with staff remotely to reduce in-person meeting requirements.
  2. Prioritize critical assets that require maintenance and inspections. Quickly analyze and visualize your assets. Focus your limited resources on those assets that are required to keep critical services working. Workforce can help you facilitate this by keeping track of staff start times, locations and asset inspections.
  3. Use paperless processes to track work and inspections on critical assets to reduce the need to handle documents from person to person. Use Collector and Survey123 to enable field staff to capture data and perform asset inspection workflows using a mobile device without the need for person to person contact.
  4. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety’s Business Continuity Plan recommends training back-ups for essential functions. Indeed, many organizations have already implanted cross-training for their staff. By distributing such skills throughout your organization, you can help mitigate the impact of workforce reductions.

You have access to these applications that can help you manage during this difficult time. Contact us if you need any help in setting these up.


Explore COVID-19 resources at https://resources-covid19canada.hub.arcgis.com. To strengthen business continuity, Esri is providing Coronavirus Business Continuity Solutions at no cost. Contact your Esri Canada account manager if you have an ArcGIS account. For new users, please request assistance through the Esri Disaster Response Program.

About the Author

Bill Grant

Bill Grant is the Industry Manager for Public Works at Esri Canada. Bill has over 25 years of asset and maintenance management experience in the municipal and private sectors. He has worked on projects for federal, provincial and municipal government agencies in Canada, USA and the Republic of Kenya where he introduced the first PC’s into the Ministry of Public Works. Bill’s strengths are working with all levels of staff from senior managers to field workers in the development and implementation of asset and work management programs and the accompanying change management processes.

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