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British Waterways charts canal data

British Waterways, UK’s water authority is linking data generated by a recently installed SAP system with mapping technology, to obtain a clearer understanding of its assets and infrastructure.

The water authority is extending links between the IT systems that support the management of 2,000 miles of rivers and canals with an existing GIS, to give a better view of use and maintenance trends.

‘Geography is important in our business, with some 2,000 miles of waterway and another 2,000 assets set along it,’ said Richard Walsh, head of IT at British Waterways. ‘Some of these assets are in very remote locations.’

Walsh says the organisation is working on what it describes as ‘hotspot’ analysis that looks at small quantities of data gathered from inspections or the management of other assets, such as pubs and housing projects.

The agency will use the improved visibility to support plans to increase waterway usage. British Waterways has been working with LogicaCMG since 2002 to update ageing software and hardware. Cross-referencing clearer, more detailed data with location was the next natural IT development, says Walsh.

‘If you have a map with a geographical representation of the network, with the ability to go to a particular location in a very fine level of detail, the ability to link directly to any data related to that location improves our ability to manipulate that data,’ he said.

GIS development work could not begin until core application handling had been completed late last year. This involved using SAP software to handle financial, work and asset management procedures, procurement, human resources and payroll.

British Waterways has also installed a web-based portal from supplier ESRI to provide dynamic links between data and its corresponding physical location in the GIS software maps.