2018 Champion City

Vallejo, CA : 2018 Champion City

Clever Technology to Mind an Aging Infrastructure

  • 121,299

  • Bob Sampayan

  • Council Manager

    Type of Government
  • 4 years

    Length of Term
  • Infrastructure

    Issue Area

The Problem

Vallejo needs $1 billion in underground infrastructure repairs, including hundreds of thousands of dollars to identify broken pipes.

The Idea

The City of Vallejo will leverage ground-penetrating radar, autonomous vehicles, and a combination of sensors to identify broken pipes more effectively and efficiently.

What Bob Sampayan, Mayor of Vallejo, CA is saying:

We are enthusiastic about the opportunity to craft a solution to identify subsurface infrastructure. This innovation will enhance our ability to assess and monitor critical systems in our community.


Our Prototyping Journey

    Let's Go

  • How we are testing our idea

    We went from seeing residents as beneficiaries of the technology, to them being a key piece of the solution.

    City Hall Staff

    Vallejo will test the combination of radar data, acoustic data, GIS maps, and crowdsourced heat maps to determine the type and amount of data required to develop an infrastructure investment plan. The city will also test resident engagement through multiple channels: online, phone, and in-person.

  • Ideas into action

  • What we're discovering through testing

    In order for their idea to be effective, the Vallejo team needed an interface where staff could input data. They started developing a 20-page paper prototype which they tested with field technicians. The interface got positive feedback and helped to clarify the user’s requirements. Through the process, however, he team realized that there was an existing product that could do the job. By finding that they didn’t need to build a new system from scratch, they avoided investing money and resources

    As we created our prototype we started this conversation of: are we trying to reinvent the wheel here, is there something that already exists?

    Will Morat, Interim Housing and Community Development Manager

    While the team were testing a paper prototype of their interface with a group of pipe technicians and maintenance workers, it turned out that one member - a heavy machinery operator - was quite savvy in app development, and had already created a portfolio of small apps to help him with his job. These were being widely used amongst other staff members. The Vallejo team will be engaging with this group for further iterations and are thinking about how they could use his skills going forward.

  • Reflections

  • What we've learned

    The team have come to see collaboration as a driving force behind their city-wide infrastructure project. The project has four primary partners: the City’s Water Department, residents and water customers, a research team from the University of Vermont, and technology firm Civic Foundry. This multidisciplinary group play different, but crucial roles, from supplying technical know-how on AI, to crowd sourcing information from residents.

    Vallejo’s idea, VallejoPipes, has evolved to incorporate crowdsourced data and artificial intelligence - in order to identify and repair water pipes at risk of failure.

    The best ideas from private and public are combined to achieve success for the entire community.

    Jomari Peterson, City of Vallejo