Proprietary software tracks essential infrastructure, permits for municipal managers

March 2023

When C.S. Davidson first rolled out CSDatum, its proprietary online suite of software for managing public works assets and municipal permits, the engineering firm had no plans to sell it as a product.

Launched in 2014, CSDatum initially focused on infrastructure mapping and asset management for municipal managers, public works staff and municipal engineering consultants. It was then and continues to be affordably priced with attentive support from the C.S. Davidson experts who designed the system, all designed for small and medium-sized municipalities.

After the acquisition of CS-Graphx Permit Manager in 2017, CSDatum grew to include a comprehensive array of permitting functions, making life easier for zoning officers, planners and building code officials.

Becoming coders in their spare time

C.S. Davidson engineers created the software entirely in-house after Jordan Good and John Petro took it upon themselves to learn how to code, starting around 2011. According to Good, who is now C.S. Davidson’s Technology Manager, the two always enjoyed building tools to help them and their coworkers be more efficient.

Eventually, the two started building maps and displaying infrastructure visually and then began inputting data and project progress to a web-based mapping system.

“We were trying to be better engineers and find creative ways to serve municipalities by making an interface for them to see all their permits and infrastructure,” Good said. “I appreciate the graciousness of our senior leadership who supported us in building this, which was not in our job description since we were bridge engineers at the time. That leap of faith fueled John and I to keep building and pushing and learning.”

By 2013, they got serious about building out CSDatum, which had become essentially an extension of the civil engineering firm. While C.S. Davidson is not trying to be a software company, it does not shy away from building tools to streamline the work of its engineers and the municipalities they serve.

Keeping complex software simple

At its core, CSDatum is Geographic Information System (GIS) software. Most GIS products are overly complex and expensive for small-to-medium-sized municipal governments. That means they often don’t track the kind of information CSDatum records – locations of stop signs, or roadway data, or manhole covers – and which civil engineers obsess over. 

Unlike most GIS systems, pricing for CSDatum is a flat rate. Most GIS software is often cluttered and overbuilt – but not CSDatum. Small and mid-sized municipalities do not need as many layers of information as Philadelphia or Baltimore, so C.S. Davidson developers offer only what managers need without excessive bells and whistles.

Affordable problem solving

Beyond its municipal tracking and mapping uses, CSDatum has unintentionally become a digital file storage system for the governments which use it. It is so easy to use that municipalities are filing many of their historical documents on it. This feature is especially helpful when retirees have abundant institutional knowledge about municipal infrastructure in their heads which is often lost when they leave.

For many municipalities, the job of mapping road systems falls to interns. There are numerous examples of teenage interns mapping a borough’s entire road system in a matter of weeks through CSDatum because it’s so easy to use for them, especially because they can use it through their iPhones.

“That kind of surveying previously would have cost several thousands of dollars for a municipality to hire someone to go out and survey it all,” Good said. “That’s why we built this and priced it so affordably – to help these folks solve problems.”

If your municipality needs a helping hand to map out infrastructure or permits, contact us today to discuss your options.