Frugal Innovation in Shared Services for Small Municipalities
Welcome to JI!
Frugal innovation in shared services. We are building a shared service hub for small municipalities to control rapidly rising software costs and deliver Asset Management, Geographic Information System (GIS) and Business Intelligence expertise as shared services at a fraction of the cost of current alternatives by leveraging open source and the cloud.
Value Proposition – Pay for service, not for software
Redirect resources from buying software to provision of services. The annual savings from software easily can easily pay for shared expertise in Asset Management, GIS and BI and offset the need to hire in-house manager costing upwards of $90K
Savings in software can potentially add up to $30,000 per year in annual licence fees including:
GIS Software EULA ~$10k to $20k
Asset Management Software ~$10k+
Web mapping software ~$10k
Furthermore, savings in setup & consulting typically range between $30K to $50K.
Our service will empower you to
Easily meet grant funding requirements for asset management.
Effortlessly gather capital asset stats for reports & surveys including the new LGDE requirements, Stat Canada surveys etc.
Manage assets proactively
Visualize and map assets and parcels on GIS for internal use and for the public.
Analyze and report on BI with full ability to customize
Capture data in the field
Share unlimited maps with unlimited usage with the public at no additional cost
Manage multimedia, docs & spreadsheets tied to assets
Create interactive BI reports for council & the public
And much more…
We’ve successfully eliminated the financial and technical barrier for small municipalities to implement a sophisticated asset management solution through a shared service. Our model is primarily open source so there is no restrictions on the number of copies or users. Any number of users can access the enterprise class, cloud hosted database without any licence cost. The reporting uses PowerBI from Microsoft and the desktop download is free while pro edition is reasonably priced. Alternative open source BI solutions are also in development using R, JS and Metabase all we move towards implementing a full open-source stack.
Asset Management Software
Web mapping software
App Server Admin & updates
Database Server Admin & updates
Free or Minimal
Setup & Training
Since this is a shared service the training requirements for inside and outside staff are minimal. We offer online or in-person training. For in-person training , municipalities are asked to reimburse travel and time.
Fee for Service – Pay for shared service, not for software
This is structured to minimally to reimburse time & overhead as software is free. This includes:
BI expertise for financial statements & asset reports for council & for public
GIS expertise and support
Quarterly/monthly or more frequent parcel downloads and integration
Annual tax & utility uploads and integration with maping
Year end financial uploads
Database administration, updates and backup
Data uploads & maintenance
Support for BI, GIS, Data Collect App & Asset Management
Training & public works field application support
Business Intelligence for Financials & Asset Management Shared Service
Financial& AM App or web reports for council
Public BI Financial reports
Live Asset Management Plans
Cloud hosted, multi-year financial cube
Amortization report & working paper export
New LGDE Report & Stat Can reports
Setup & Training
AM, GIS, Web Mapping Shared Service
Public GIS Maps
Field data collect app
Tourism & Trails Interactive Map
Setup & Training
Cadaster & Utility IntegrationShared Service
Parcel Map BC Integration
Quarterly PMBC downloads & ETL
Tax & Utility data integration
Planning draw tool
Cemetery Mgmt App
More frequent monthly or weekly cadaster updates
Museum Mgmt App
This approach fits in with our philosophy of inclusiveness and saves a small municipality the entirety of software fees and more significantly the cost of hiring a GIS professional to provide the level of service demanded by our communities and senior levels of government. The cloud allows small municipalities to share the cost AM, GIS & BI expertise across multiple municipalities reducing it to a fraction of the cost of hiring staff in-house.
How do we do this when any alternatives cost many tens of thousands of dollars more? We use open source extensively, leverage the cloud and offer a tightly integrated solution. The tight integration keeps things simple and the cloud hosting eliminates worries about software updates & administration. Our data frameworks reflect our philosophy to keep things simple and real. Your outside crew will appreciate the simplicity of our field app which won’t get in the way of doing their job while providing them easy access to notes, documents and images to help with their work. We emphasize decisions base on factual information not on dubious and costly optimizations.
We operate extremely frugally in line with our philosophy in order to keep costs low, allow provision of free software for municipalities and contribute to community groups. We do not have marketing budget nor any marketing associates and rely on the word-of-mouth based on the quality of work. If you’re a municipality interested in further information or would like demo email me.
I have often observed vendors overwhelm municipal employees with information, data and graphs in order to sell their software. Although software has its place in helping you organize your assets, I would strongly advise against immediately purchasing software. Focus initially on your governance, draft your policy and strategy. Organize your data in the attached excel spreadsheet. Once you outgrow excel, use the free service by JI to import your excel data into a robust asset repository. The standards based, free service provided by JI is more than adequate for most municipalities wishing to implement a sophisticated and complete asset management system (look at the solutions page for details).
The attached spreadsheet will help you get started. It has two tabs organizing the asset registry, the first lists the assets and the second the components tied to those assets. The components tab is where the financial data from PSAB is listed. Along with the policy and planning documents, it will get you going and allow you to check off a number of requirements.
Inclusion: Create a sophisticated platform specifically for small municipalities & first nations providing equivalent level of service as larger, wealthier municipalities.
Frugality: Save taxpayers tens of thousands per municipality by leveraging open source alternatives & using existing tools innovatively.
Transparency: Use cutting-edge tools and BI frameworks to transparently share data with the public & enhance understanding for council.
Strengthen Municipal Commons: Encouraged public ownership of valuable data & information.
Working as a CFO in Ashcroft for over 5 years I have become intimately familiar with challenges unique to small municipalities. Averse to spending tens of thousands on software and then on consulting with an end result that was neither simple or practical, I applied insights and innovative ideas from science and academia that could allow small municipalities to level the playing field compared to their larger counterparts. The end result is a SaaS model with open source at the core that simplifies operations and cuts costs and dependencies and is extremely powerful and infinitely extensible.
JI was created to foster innovation for small municipalities. Small municipalities face greater financial & HR constraints and are unable to afford additional technical staff. They need solutions that are specifically tailored for them to be simple, effective & most importantly, frugal.
JI has developed an innovative platform to hide complexity and handle data warehousing, ETL, semantics and analytics while providing frugal, effective solutions optimized for small municipalities. We enable the use of free and open source software to drastically cut costs and provide a common platform to share expertise and resources.
Solutions vs Software
Our focus has been to develop solutions and as opposed to just software. Solutions that are practical, realistic and flexible enough to incorporate conditions unique to each municipality.
If data is the new oil, feedback data is gold dust (paraphrased).
Prof. Ajay Agrawal, founder of the Creative Destruction Lab and co-founder of the AI/robotics company Kindred
The advent of AI and IoT has increased the volume and importance of data. Most municipalities are not structuring their contracts appropriately to retain ownership of their data. This leaves them dependent and reliant on service providers. JI was formed to address this gap and we explicitly assign ownership of data to the municipality thereby retaining public ownership of this increasingly valuable asset.
I am an enthusiastic supporter of our community of learning and often conduct workshops & seminars and believe in sharing knowledge openly and helping colleagues succeed. My focus is on encouraging adoption of open source to improve collaboration and cut IT costs drastically.
This work is opening up possibilities in application of sensor networks, advanced analytics and AI predicated on a shared platform. I see huge potential in low-cost IoT sensor networks alongside burgeoning AI field. I believe were are at an inflection point with AI much like prior revolutions in semiconductors and internet which changed societies and I am committed to helping municipalities realize the benefits.
During the last few weeks I’ve rewritten the data collect app to provide more intuitive interface and added the capability to edit or add new assets to the web mapping system. In addition, I’ve added the capability for the manager to audit and approve the additions or changes. This allows public works staff to add …
I have decided to support local community groups by donating 25% of my fees after the first year when much of the set-up and mapping work is complete. Feels quite satisfying to be able to make difference by not only to small rural municipalities by providing access to tech via open source & cutting costs …