Public Works Week Panel: What does the future of Public Works hold for local municipalities?
The City of Madison Engineering Division is proud to take part in the City’s week long celebration of its work and its agencies during Infrastructure and Public Works weeks. Each day this week, we’re hosting a blog panel: focusing on one question, and answers from staff across our agency. We asked our staff, and here's what they said:
What does the future of Public Works hold for local municipalities, and what does that look like when it comes to changing the way we work?
“Municipalities need to stay in the forefront in terms of changing technology and not get left behind. For example, new construction techniques that save time/money, using software to better plan and design infrastructure, or building facilities and systems for energy savings/efficiency.” -Chase O’Brien, Accountant, Engineering-Finance Section
“Exploring new technologies to make our work more efficient as we are called to do more with less. Readiness for climate change. Means rethinking services we provide and reforming workflows.” -John Sapp, CAD/BIM Manager, Engineering Technology
“Racial Equity and Social Justice Initiatives are getting us to look at things in new ways and improving accessibility. In Engineering discussions of the future often focus on improving technologies and exciting new gadgets, but it’s also important to make sure that the future we are building includes everyone.” -Johanna Johnson/Lesley Parker/Heidi Fleegel, Program Assistants, Office Administration
“Technology allows for more efficient monitoring and maintenance of facilities. Staff can better determine and focus on where the true needs really exist.” -Jeff Quamme, Land Information Manager, Land Information Official Map Section
“Change is happening right now. Those of us in Public Works currently, are big spoons within our honey Madison pot. We are stirring it up for our future folks the best way we know how. We’re learning from the past, trying new things, and figuring out the best solution for the environment, and for our people. Now is the time for us to step outside our comfort zones, and to listen and learn.”-Hattie Russell, Maintenance Technician, Facilities Maintenance Section
“Climate change is going to cause stress on existing systems and infrastructure. In the Midwest, the forecast includes more intense rainfall events, and more dangerously hot days. Public Works professionals will need to plan and prep for these situations. Planning and prepping include things like understanding where the vulnerabilities in the system are and create plans for those areas. This could include things like sand bagging, road closures, drought and flood tolerant infrastructure/vegetation, modifying work schedules so that workers are not working during the hottest parts of the day, etc.” -Caroline Burger, Engineer, Stormwater Section
“Our citizens will continue to rely on us, and increasingly so as climate change becomes an even larger factor in our lives.” -Stephen King, Facilities Services Coordinator, Facilities Services Section
“Most older municipalities face some very steep costs and large projects in the future. Much of the infrastructure that has been built is reaching the end of its useful life (100+ years) and requires renovation and/or replacement. Additionally, for storm sewer, specifically, major upgrades are required to deal with increased intensity and frequency of storms. Adapting to these changes will be a challenge.” -Greg Fries, Deputy City Engineer, Storm & Sanitary Sewer Sections
“The future looks great because we’ve made and continue to make changes to the way we work, like upgrades to our design software and hardware, remote work and meeting tools, and sustainable building materials and techniques. These changes allow us to improve our local community engagement, coordination and provide more design options to address the needs and concerns of the municipalities.” -Ike Okafor, Engineer, Streets and Paths Design Section
“As cities grow, Public Works infrastructure will be critical whether having roads that can handle the additional traffic or sewers and water mains to handle the population growth. Public Works facilities impact people’s everyday lives. Many City services are taken for granted. Stormwater drainage, providing uninterrupted continuous water supply and sanitary sewer service are all services often taken for granted but are vital to our daily lives.”-Mark Moder, Principal Engineer, Sanitary Sewer Section