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GIS adding value to water utilities workflow

Rotterdam: Water utilities across the world are increasingly taking to GIS to add value to their workflows. At the session on ‘Water — Resources and Water’ at the Geospatial World Forum 2013, users from a wide spectrum of countries – from United States and Canada, to UK and European nations, to Azerbaijan in central Asia said they have put in place GIS for transparency, cost effectiveness and better communication across the organisation.

Talking about adding social value and return on investment for GIS in water management, Daan vas Os, Advisor Network Development, Brabant Water, The Netherlands, presented how the company is using GIS across its workflow. In addition to mapping the pipeline for asset management, detecting malfunctions and handling usual complaints etc, Brabant has also put in place a system which can calculate which old pipes are due for change and how soon. This helps the water utility and the municipal authorities save on unnecessary expenses and problems related to digging.

Finn Asmussen, Head – Technology – VaV, Copenhangen Energy, Denmark, spoke on the value of digital water and wastewater. The project, part of a Digital Denmark initiative by the Danish government, uses GIS to map the dara – for registration of waste water, pipes, data model for registration etc. Further, data exchange with surrounding organisations and communication through maps help in better work management.

GIS helped Sonoma County Water, USA, compile a reuse schedule that lies with line clearing and maintenance database, said Tim Gahagan, GIS Technician II. The benefits of putting together a GIS was immense, as it resulted in centralised data and graphic view that allows access to quick information, connects all departments and agency wide answers. Gahagan said the utility is trying to merge CAD with GIS for better visual results, but data sharing and ownership for such a purpose remained an issue.

Phillip Meis, Vice President, Utility Mapping Services, USA, explained how his organisation has used the SPAR 300 tool in an urban setting to locate every pipeline. This was required as there was a multi-milion dollar bridge coming up in his area and his company had to locate the pipelines to save them from damages during construction. Gahagan said this tool had previously been used in rural areas successfully but was yet to be used to extensively in an urban area.

Speaking on management of water and wastewater infrastructure in Azerbaijan, Samir Ganili, Head of IT, Azersu OJSC, Azerbaijan, the GI system lies in the centre of his organisational workflow. In this way, every department is connected and is mandated to share data and use the system. Further, this way the GIS tem is very much part of the organisation and not seen as enforcing processes down the system, thus making GIS an integral part of the total workflow of the organisation. The system has also integrated CAD/GIS data for input and update analysis.

Astrid Vokso, Senior engineer/GIS Coordinator, Geoinformatics Centre, Hydrology, Norweigian Water Resources and Energy Department, explained how the national agency used GIS to draw up a national dataset of its water assets – from lake database to watershed archives to river network. “It took a lot of time, but it was crucial and the effort was worth it,” she said, adding the department has put up the application for public use and it has turned out to be an immensely popular one.

Veronica Botero, Chairperson of the Department of Geosciences and Environment, University of Colombia, talked about how after the severe floods of 2010-11 when national emergency had to be declared in Colombia, the government took on the initiative of drawing up a national flood hazard map for the country. The University of Colombia was given the responsibility, and after many challenges owing to non-availability of data and maps or even digital elevation models, Botero and her team has finally been able to create the same.

Another interesting presentation was from the Delhi Jal Board, the utility that manages water supply in the Indian Capital. B.S. Jaglan, DANICS, Director ( Revenue), and Vikram Singh, Superintending Engineer ( Head – Mapping) demonstrated how spatially enabled systems helped improve revenue management for urban supply.

Source: Our Correspondent

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