Return on Investment

Return on Investment (ROI) of Hudson's GIS Program

One of the most difficult tasks faced by many GIS administrators is answering the following question: "What kind of Return on Investment can we expect by investing in a GIS program?"

This can be a difficult question to answer because the benefits of a GIS program can be hard to quantify. Here are a few examples showing Hudson’s return on investment for the GIS program.

Reduction of Costs for Engineering & Design Work

The following table shows the ROI of mapping major utilities and integrating them into our GIS. The table represents cost savings for a typical 2000 ft. waterline replacement on a major road. Generally a project of this type costs approximately $140,000.
Total Savings: $7,060
Project Phase
Hours Saved
Hourly Rate
Cost Savings
Planning 10 $70 $700
Surveying (2-person crew)
8 $130 $1,040
Design 4 $80 $320
Change Orders - GIS minimizes change orders in the field, eliminating approximately one out of three.
N/A N/A $5,000
As shown above, from a typical engineering project, there is a cost savings of over 5% when the City can provide GIS utility information. Considering the City has approximately $8,000,000 in stormwater and sewer projects scheduled over the next five years, a 5% reduction in those projects would result in $400,0000 (or $80,000 annually) in savings over the 5-year period.

EPA Requirements for Storm Water Phase II Mapping

In 2001, the City received a proposal from consultants to implement a Storm Water Data Conversion and Collection project. The completion of this project is required by the EPA for the City to keep within the Phase II Storm Water regulations by the year 2008. The proposal exceeded $200,000, so the City decided to complete the project in-house with the assistance of current staff and University of Akron interns. These mapping projects began in late 2003 and the current expenditures associated with these projects are estimated to be $50,000—saving the City $150,000 over the course of three years.The City has entered into the final phase of this project which involves collecting more detailed information for each asset. This information will be entered into the City’s Asset Management Program where the asset information will be stored and maintained.

Marking utilities

The Public Works Department receives approximately 1,500 requests for utility markings every year. With the utilities mapped and stored in the City’s GIS system, the time to mark utilities will be dramatically reduced. It is estimated that using the GIS system will save an average of 30 minutes for every utility marking request, saving the City 750 staff-hours. If a staff member averages $25 per hour, it represents a savings of $18,750 per year.

Loss of Institutional Knowledge Due to Retiring Employees

A major problem facing many businesses is the loss of “institutional knowledge” when a long-time employee leaves the company. The City of Hudson has a number of key utility employees who may be retiring within the next few years. By loading the utility information into GIS, we can capture a significant portion of this knowledge into an electronic, retrievable format. Examples include the location of underground utility lines and connections, age and condition of the lines, maintenance history, etc.

Availability of Gis Layers Online

The availability of layers that can be view online will produce considerable savings by reducing the number of calls to City departments, as well as time saved compiling public records requests. The latest addition, the GIS Mapping site allows users to view current Active Work Orders within the Public Works department. This is the first phase of a project that will eventually allow residents to enter their own work requests directly through the GIS Mapping site.