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GIS helps Manila Water come out of deep water

Water utility company catering to the Metropolitan Manila region in the Philippines takes the PPP route and incorporates GIS-based solutions

In 1997, Manila Water found itself in a bad shape. The non-revenue water (NRW) had reached 63% of the total supply, while 75% of the east-zone of Metro Manila did not have a 24-hour supply and only about 8% had sewerage connection. With the main intention of expanding service coverage, improving service delivery and increasing operating efficiency, Manila Water Company became the East Concessionaire of Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) through a Public-Private-Partnership on August 1, 1997. The PPP took three major steps to handle the situation. First of all, an enterprise GIS was developed to ensure one-stop shop for all geographic information needs. Secondly, all water meters were mapped and information about all service pipes was captured digitally. Thirdly, a single topographic map was developed to align all existing assets. These efforts led to a landslide change in the scenario. In 2006, 24-hour water supply increased to 99%, cutting 50% of the system losses and doubling the number of sewerage connections. In 2012, NRW dropped to 11%. With service coverage area of about 1,400 sq km, Manila Water now serves an estimated population of 6 million of the 23 cities and municipalities.


Data integration and sharing

Manila Water always produced huge amounts of spatial and non-spatial data. With an initial set-up of eight business areas with individual datasets, eight engineers working with three CAD operators, the problem of data integration and sharing within the network was a major bottleneck. With the focus on consolidating all the data, the Manila Water Web-GIS was conceived. It brought about a range of positive changes:

• It offered a geospatial visualisation and analysis platform with complementing applications running on PCs, tablets and smartphones

• The system became a flexible model to adapt to future client needs and functionalities. It accommodated the functionalities of water and waste water utility management system.

• Data captured by field-staff could be easily flagged in the application for evaluation.

• Network information, along with the application’s drawing capability, allowed users to supplement their project proposals and reporting needs.

• It ensured Valve Isolation Feature (VIF) which enabled technical support staff to easily identify affected valves within a network outage.

• Modellers could focus on hydraulic analysis and not merely on database build-up. The quality of information can now be screened by GIS specialists before publishing.

• Manila Water Web-GIS also interfaced with District Metering Area (DMA) Management to link NRW and pressure at DMA level hence eliminating duplicated tasks between separate platforms.


How metre mapping helped Manila

Quick and precise evaluation of complaints by call centre agents with access to the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) resulted in systematic and effective complaints management. Integrating CRM with GIS allowed Manila Water to accurately identify the customer location by using GPS coordinates. However, it was a big challenge for the company to accurately plot all 791,000 water service connection metres. There was no single updated base map to serve as reference. Western part of the service coverage area was based on a 1989 national mapping data while the eastern part was based on a 2004 DigitalGlobe image with 60-cm resolution.

To resolve such setbacks, dual-frequency GNSS receivers were used to conduct a realtime kinematic survey of metres. The water metre mapping and service pipe digitisation project resulted in accurately locating a total of 791,000 customer accounts. Service quality was achieved as CRM enabled immediate availability of customer information on a single screen. Now, a well-developed CRM system is able to provide a 360-degree view of customer information and enable Manila Water to respond in a timely manner.

Fully functional asset information mgmt

At the onset of the move towards enterprise– GIS, as-built data from contractors was encoded in a centralised database. GPS data from the field was also integrated in the system to augment existing position and elevation data. While GPS position accuracy was maintained at an accuracy of 30-cm and even better, old map positional errors amounted to about 15 m. This gave rise to the need for acquiring a single topographic map to align all existing assets.

High-resolution imagery served as base map in the extraction of vital GIS layers such as road networks, building footprints etc. The implementation of the topographic mapping project ensured seamless integration of GPS data of existing assets and network information with that of as-built plans. Assets encoded in the old base map are now aligned with the help of an accurate road network. Manila Water today has one of the most accurate and updated maps in the Philippines. The topographic mapping project has created a wide range of maps used regularly for network efficiency management and decision making.