GIS technology plugs water leaks without spilling cash

A pioneering US water provider is redefining how utilities can operate thanks to a revolutionary geospatial technology platform.

Oct 7, 2015 -- The White House Utility District’s (WHUD) ground-breaking use of Geographic Information System (GIS) technology has already seen a total saving to date of approximately 450 megalitres of water and over a quarter million dollars.

Those savings are expected to progress in the coming year as Tennessee’s largest geographically dispersed water utility, continue to streamline workflows and increase productivity through their innovative GIS platform.

Presenting at the recent Australian Esri User Conference, District Engineer Pat Harrell said since the deployment of Esri’s GIS technology, all staff now have access to an extensive library of maps, apps, dashboards and data layers in near real-time, enabling them to make better, faster decisions.

“For example, office-based staff can efficiently visualise on a map localised water leak locations, isolated right down to specific pipe segments and then issue appropriate maintenance work orders,” Mr Harrell said.

“Field staff equipped with mobile devices can then act immediately to locate the leak, uploading their progress to ensure head office has a common operational picture of unfolding situations in the District.

“We estimate we have already saved around AUD$350,000 and hundreds of megalitres of water since implementing the technology in the past year.”

Esri Australia utility specialist Chris Hogan said WHUD’s enterprise-wide use of GIS technology was a prototype for the future of utility management, particularly for local providers.

“Globally, water providers are facing similar challenges – ageing infrastructure, increased population and usage demands and locally, the dry, hot Australian weather placing strain on existing resources,” Mr Hogan said.

“As demonstrated by WHUD’s ingenious use of GIS technology, utilities can operate smarter and more efficiently, by immediately detecting costly leaks, deploying crews and notifying customers affected by temporary water suspensions.”

Mr Hogan said the cutting-edge technology not only facilitates information sharing within organisations, it also improves cross-agency engagements, along with communication with customers via interactive apps and web maps.

“Customers can visit a website to determine if there is a water problem in their area or use a mobile app to log reports of water main leaks or other glitches experienced with their water service,” Mr Hogan said.

“In a digital age, where more than 8.7 million mobile devices are in use in Australia, online and real-time access to information is setting a new benchmark in how utilities operate.

“We’re excited to share WHUD’s revolutionary GIS-centric approach with their Australian counterparts, as we believe it will inspire them to think differently about the sustainability of current operating models.”

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