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GIS Asset Management System Concept Plan for the Port of Anchorage

August 15, 2017

The Port of Anchorage (POA) is Alaska’s premier import cargo hub and provides critical transportation infrastructure to Alaskans. More ships, tugs and barges come through the POA than any other deep-water port in the state, carrying 74 percent of all the waterborne freight and 95 percent of the refined petroleum products that enter Alaska. This includes more than 3.5 million tons of food, building materials, cars, clothing, cement, fuel and other goods every year that supplies about 200 communities, military bases and other destinations across Alaska, as well 100 percent of the jet fuel supplied to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and approximately 66 percent of the jet fuel for Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. Almost half of this cargo is bound for destinations outside of Anchorage, from Homer to Prudhoe Bay.


It is important the POA continues to function efficiently and financially due to its economic importance to Alaska. To help ensure the facility continues to meet Alaska’s cargo needs, POA contracted R&M Consultants, Inc. (R&M) to develop a Geospatial Asset Management System conceptual plan to guide the design, development and implementation of a Geographic Information System (GIS) based asset management system.

What is a GIS asset management system?

An asset management system aids in the management of infrastructure capital assets, like stormwater drain pipes or wharf piles, as well as “intangible” assets like leases or use-permit areas with a goal of minimizing the total cost of owning, operating and maintaining these assets at acceptable levels of service.

A GIS asset management system leverages the power of enterprise class information technology using a “science of where” approach through central data management practices coupled with the distribution of interactive map services.

Graphic elements representing particular assets, “features,” in the GIS are linked to records holding asset information, “attributes” like age and condition, and digital documents, like construction specifications and ownership records, all of which are maintained in a comprehensive database.

Enterprise GIS software translates these datasets into interactive maps services making this asset information available to a variety of platforms, when and where needed.


The conceptual plan R&M developed for the POA examined the business process requirements of POA staff, information used in performing these business processes, and how a GIS could be implemented to improve accomplishing these tasks. It consisted of a user needs assessment, data inventory and gap analysis, platform and functionality evaluation, and a standards and interoperability review. The plan provided the necessary starting point and inputs for implementation of a GIS at the POA.

What are the benefits of GIS implementation?

GIS implementation can provide numerous benefits to POA through the intuitive nature of GIS maps, the maintenance of a central, authoritative database of record and the distribution of cross-platform map services.

The intuitive nature of maps and the interactive nature of GIS will help POA managers see daily operations, short- and long-term capital planning activities, and resource allocation in context, at variable scales and in different scenarios, allowing for exploring both “big picture” planning and specific situation perspectives.

Housing and maintaining comprehensive asset information in a robust, central data repository provides an authoritative database of record for POA assets. This increases confidence in the accuracy of the data and provides a single source of pertinent information that aids in more effective planning and improved decision making.

Enterprise GIS best practices use industry standard map service protocols to distribute information in a way that can be consumed but any compliant platform or device. Custom, off-the-self, or tailored applications running on desktop computers, laptops, tablets, or smartphones can access the interactive map services in the office or in the field, connected or disconnected. This increases efficiency and reduces costs by providing system access for data collection, update, navigation, issue reporting, status update and field crew coordination.

POA’s continuous and efficient operation is critical to the economic viability of every region of our state. It is the only Alaska import facility that has capacity to handle and efficiently distribute adequate cargo volume to supply our entire state population. This GIS concept plan and implementation will help the POA plan for the future and continue to provide this much needed service to Alaskans.

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