Category Archives: Water

Scottish Water

Empowering staff with bespoke training

When Scottish Water decided to migrate to Esri’s ArcGIS platform from a legacy GIS system, it appointed Esri UK to deliver a suite of on-site and online training courses. This comprehensive and bespoke training programme enabled 1200 GIS users to transition confidently to new business processes and make optimal use of ArcGIS in their jobs.

Bespoke training enables 1200 GIS users to transition smoothly to new enterprise GIS

Professional trainers give employees the skills to do their jobs effectively

eLearning resources provide long term return on training investment

The Challenge

At Scottish Water, geographic information system (GIS) solutions play a pivotal role in helping the company to deliver 1.34 billion litres of drinking water and take away 847 million litres of waste water, day after day. Over 1200 employees use GIS routinely for everything from handling customer enquiries to planning new infrastructure investment. Consequently, when Scottish Water decided to replace its existing GIS with Esri’s ArcGIS platform enterprise-wide, it recognised the importance of providing high quality training.

“The transition to ArcGIS marked a big step change for the business in the way that it employs GIS and shares data, across a number of business processes,” says Stuart Hill, Business Change Manager at Scottish Water. “It was critical for the business to ensure that every-day users could be confident in using the new technology from day one. At the same time, it was also important for us to ensure that more advanced users in our IT team had the ability to maintain and support our new enterprise GIS platform.”

“ The Esri UK trainers were very experienced and had a real passion for the product. They delivered what we were looking for within our tight budget

Stuart Hill, Business Change Manager, Scottish Water

 

The Solution


First, experienced trainers from Esri UK held workshops and worked closely with representatives from the business to gain a clear understanding of users’ requirements. Then, Esri UK developed courses, training manuals and training documentation using the company’s own data and examples of actual business processes, to make the training highly relevant and meaningful for employees.

Esri UK also created different levels of courses for the company’s 381 desktop users and 868 web GIS users, to cater for different requirements. These included a basic course for employees who predominantly just use the ArcGIS web portal to view and search for data on maps; a standard desktop course for employees who need to perform some data analysis and data editing as a part of their roles; and an advanced desktop course for specialist users, which included instruction on data management and the development of the company’s ArcGIS web portal.

Over a four month period, Esri UK delivered 39 separate training courses, at five different locations across Scotland. For each of these courses, Esri UK supplied laptops for all attendees, pre-loaded with all of the ArcGIS software, business data and examples, so Scottish Water did not have the inconvenience or additional cost of having to prepare, setup and use its own IT resources.

In addition to the face-to-face training, Esri UK also developed a portfolio of eLearning resources to allow employees to acquire skills and knowledge of ArcGIS, at a time to suit them, online. As with the face-to-face courses, this web-based training was designed to meet the training requirements of different levels of user and was fully tailored to reflect Scottish Water’s business processes.

“ Esri UK’s training programme gave our employees the competence and confidence to use ArcGIS to its full potentiall and do their jobs to their best ability

Stuart Hill, Business Change Manager, Scottish Water

 

The Benefits

Smooth transition to a new enterprise GIS
Scottish Water’s employees were able to transition more easily to the new ArcGIS platform, because the training provided by Esri UK was bespoke to Scottish Water and based on the company’s own business data and processes. “Our employees were better able to understand the training and could embed new skills more quickly, because they were working with data that they were already familiar with,” Hill explains.

Improved return on ArcGIS investment
By providing training at different levels, for different categories of users, Esri UK has helped to ensure that all employees can make optimal use of ArcGIS, whether they are handling customer enquiries, managing assets or developing apps. This, in turn, will help the company to maximise the return that it gains from its investment in ArcGIS. “Esri UK’s training programme gave our employees the competence and confidence to use ArcGIS to its full potential and do their jobs to their best ability,” Hill says.

Flexible and inclusive training options for employees
The combination of classroom-based training courses, at five locations, and online eLearning resources gave the company’s 1200 GIS users a choice of ways to receive training, depending on their preferred learning style and situation. The eLearning resources were particularly ideal for employees based in more remote locations, who didn’t find it easy to travel to attend an on-site course, as well as people who prefer to learn at their own pace. As Hill explains, “The different methods of delivering training helped us to ensure that everyone who needed training, had access training.”

Long term benefits from training investment
Scottish Water will continue to gain ongoing benefits from its investment in Esri UK’s training services for many years to come, as it can continue to use the bespoke eLearning resources to train new employees and existing employees who move into new roles that involve using ArcGIS. Employees who attended training courses can also refer back to eLearning resources to reinforce what they learned in the classroom, helping them to continually develop and advance their skills.

Value for money from experienced trainers
All in all, Hill believes that the training services delivered by Esri UK for Scottish Water were highly professional and cost effective. “Esri UK definitely delivered value for money,” he says in conclusion. “The Esri UK trainers were very experienced and had a real passion for the product. They delivered what we were looking for within our tight budget.”

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Strutt & Parker

Geo-enabling the UK’s sparkling wine industry

Land and real-estate agency Strutt & Parker is working with some of the world’s leading wine producers to help expand the production of sparkling wine in the South East of England. Using a solution based on ArcGIS Online called FarmView, it can rapidly identify the best sites for vineyards, taking into account a vast array of factors including soil type, terrain and climate.

Over 1,500% return on investment achieved by Kent office

A four-fold improvement in productivity for viticulture land agents

More successful grape crops due to better selection of land

“ Our ArcGIS solution has made us far more competitive and profitable, compared to other agencies

Edward Mansel Lewis – Senior Associate Director – Strutt & Parker

The Challenge

Subtle changes in the climate in England, caused by global warming, are creating ideal conditions for the production of sparkling wine. As a result, more and more wine producers are looking to acquire land in South East England to plant vineyards. The government is actively supporting the expansion of the British wine industry and has set a target for the total area of vineyards in the UK to exceed 3,000 hectares by 2020.

The land agency firm Strutt & Parker was commissioned by a major wine grower to identify land in Kent with precisely the right soil type, elevation, aspect weather patterns and slope for optimal grape cultivation. However, there was no single source of data that the organisation could turn to in order to assess the suitability of each available parcel of land. Agents needed to undertake research across multiple websites and data sources, interpret maps at different scales and manually generate reports for the client, which was extremely time consuming.

“ FarmView not only benefits our clients with an insightful and authoritative appraisal of a site’s value, but it has also significantly improved our own business processes, saving time and money

Nicholas Watson – Head of Land Management in the South East, Strutt & Parker

The Solution

Strutt & Parker discussed its challenges with Mapman, a digital mapping consultancy in Kent. One of Esri UK’s Startup programme partners, Mapman realised immediately that it could use Esri’s ArcGIS Online solution to build an app that would give land agents instant, 24/7 visibility of all of the data they needed, on a single interactive map.

Mapman used ArcGIS Online and authoritative data from the Ordnance Survey, Cranfield University, the Met Office and other open sources to create a viticulture app, which it named FarmView. “I have long experience of using ArcGIS and am very confident in it as a digital mapping platform,” says Pete Wain, Managing Director of Mapman. “It is very easy to deploy new applications and share data, plus it is scalable, resilient and has security built in. I wouldn’t have considered building FarmView with any other GIS system.”

Strutt & Parker jumped at the opportunity to become the first corporate user of FarmView. Using the ArcGIS Online solution, its land agents can select any parcel of land and click on it to see an immediate assessment of its soil, terrain and climate, indicating the land’s suitability for vineyards. Land agents can also apply a search function to see, in an instant, where suitable land exists across a specific region or county.

Significantly, Strutt & Parker can use the location intelligence of FarmView to create data-driven and branded reports, with embedded statistics, to send to clients. The thoroughness of the analysis facilitated by ArcGIS Online, and clarity of FarmView’s reports, makes it very easy for the organisation’s clients to understand the relative merits of different land parcels and make confident decisions about the suitability of the land.

“ I have long experience of using ArcGIS and am very confident in it as a digital mapping platform

Pete Wain – Managing Director – MapMan

The Benefits

Over 1500% return on investment
Since subscribing to the ArcGIS-based solution from Mapman, Strutt & Parker has been highly successful in winning new clients and orchestrating land sales, particularly in Kent. Edward Mansel Lewis, Senior Associate Director at Strutt & Parker, says, “The cost of FarmView was split equally between the Kent, Essex, Sussex and Surrey offices within our firm. Using billing figures from the Kent team, since the mapping platform was introduced, we calculate that we have made a return of 1,571% on this quarter share of the investment alone.”

“Extraordinary” time savings
If a farmer or landowner calls to discuss selling fields, Strutt & Parker agents can see within just three or four minutes if that particular land parcel is suitable for vines. “We can identify suitable sites in a quarter of the time that we would previously have spent on each project,” says Mansel Lewis. “FarmView allows us to see, in one picture, all of the features that will determine if a site is right for a vineyard or not. The amount of time that we save, as a result of this ArcGIS-based solution, is just extraordinary.”

Improved profitability and competitiveness
Using FarmView, Strutt & Parker has now built up a bank of several thousand acres of land suitable for vineyards, which gives it a massive competitive advantage over other agents, who might have to search for land on a case by case basis. “Our ArcGIS solution has made us far more competitive and profitable, compared to other agencies,” Mansel Lewis says. “After demonstrating our new mapping solution, we were fortunate enough to win a contract with the largest wine producer in the UK.”

Nicholas Watson, Head of Land Management in the South East for Strutt & Parker, adds, “FarmView not only benefits our clients with an insightful and authoritative appraisal of a site’s value, but it has also significantly improved our own business processes, saving time and money. FarmView is helping to further establish Strutt & Parker as the UK’s leading viticulture consultancy service.”

More successful wine production in the UK
Ultimately, it is Strutt & Parker’s clients who will benefit most, as they will purchase precisely the right kind of land to ensure their success. Mansel Lewis observes, “Our clients have been delighted with the sites that we have found for them using our new mapping platform. Over the course of the next few years, many new vineyards will appear throughout the Kent countryside and you can be sure that the majority of them will have been identified, in the first instance, using the ArcGIS capabilities in FarmView.”

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SeaRoc Group

Reducing risks and costs in offshore renewable energy

The marine management consultancy SeaRoc Group analyses seabed movements and monitors the condition of underwater cables using Esri’s ArcGIS platform. With this insight, it can help wind farm operators to reduce the risk of cable failures, minimise maintenance costs and prevent interruptions in the supply of renewable energy to the National Grid.

Reduced risk of cable damage and interruptions to the supply of renewable energy

Cost savings from proactive rather than reactive maintenance planning

Clear visualisations of priority issues, to improve decision making

The Challenge

In the offshore renewable energy industry, cables and other assets worth millions of pounds are buried in sandy seabeds, hundreds of metres beneath the surface of the sea. If movements occur in the seabed over time, these cables and assets can become exposed and then damaged by the movement of the tides. Electricity circuits can be broken, leading to a suspension in energy transfer to the National Grid, complex and costly repair jobs and significant financial losses for renewable energy producers.

As a specialist marine management consultancy, SeaRoc Group (SeaRoc) provides a wide range of services and systems for clients in the offshore renewable energy market. It identified an opportunity to use geographic information system (GIS) technology to help its clients monitor seabed movements more effectively and gain better information about potential risks to improve their operational planning.

“ By using ArcGIS to analyse changes in a dynamically evolving environment, we are helping our clients to sustain the generation of electricity from renewable energy sources, for the future

Amanda Forbes – Senior GIS Analyst – SeaRoc Group

The Solution

SeaRoc has been using solutions from Esri’s ArcGIS platform since its inception in 2002 and used Esri’s ArcGIS Desktop and Spatial Analyst Extension to develop its new client service.

The company commissions regular biometric surveys of the seabed, conducted from boats, and inputs the resulting data into ArcGIS Desktop in high resolution. SeaRoc then converts this data into image files and uses Esri’s Spatial Analyst Extension to compare it with previous biometric surveys. Through this spatial analysis, the company can identify areas where seabed changes have occurred and pinpoint sections of cable and assets that have become exposed. As Amanda Forbes, Senior GIS Analyst at SeaRoc, says, “ArcGIS enables us to see things underwater that are extraordinarily difficult to see otherwise.”

Subsequently, SeaRoc uses ArcGIS Desktop and the Spatial Analyst Extension to calculate possible future changes to the condition of cables and assets, based on predictions of how the seabed will change. The company shares this seabed analysis with its clients in the offshore renewable energy industry, by giving them access to an ArcGIS web portal. It also uses ArcGIS to create colour-coded maps to incorporate into reports and presentations, providing a strong visual picture of the condition of buried assets.

“ ArcGIS enables us to see things underwater that are extraordinarily difficult to see otherwise

Amanda Forbes – Senior GIS Analyst, SeaRoc Group

The Benefits

Reduced risk of cable damage
Through the use of ArcGIS, SeaRoc is able to provide its clients with accurate information about precisely where the seabed is shifting and how these movements impact buried cables and assets. Offshore wind farm operators can then use this insight to quickly instigate the necessary measures to protect their assets and reduce the risk of cable damage. “When you know what the seabed is doing, you can prevent issues from arising that could have serious financial consequences,” Forbes says.

Lower operational costs
Using the ArcGIS analysis from SeaRoc, offshore wind farm operators can reduce their maintenance costs, by planning their maintenance activities more proactively, according to the relative vulnerability of each location or asset. ArcGIS clearly visualises the likely seabed changes over one, three and five years, enabling organisations to develop better informed, long-term asset management plans, reduce the need for expensive reactive repairs and improve their operational efficiency.

Improved clarity in reports and data sharing
SeaRoc is able to make the findings of its seabed analysis simple to understand, by using ArcGIS to create a range of colour-coded maps in hard copy and interactive, online formats. “ArcGIS works really well as a visualisation tool,” observes Forbes. “Areas of critical concern are shown in red on the maps, making it really clear where intervention is needed urgently to protect underwater assets.”

A reliable supply of sustainable electricity
Finally, SeaRoc’s new ArcGIS-based service will help to ensure that offshore wind farms continue to generate the optimum quantity of sustainable electricity, by reducing the likelihood of outages due to cable damage from seabed movements. This is a particularly important benefit given that the UK is facing a potential energy supply shortage in the future and needs to increase its generation of renewable energy. “By using ArcGIS to analyse changes in a dynamically evolving environment, we are helping our clients to sustain the generation of electricity from renewable energy sources, for the future,” Forbes concludes.

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Northern Ireland Water

Creating a “place of opportunity” with enterprise GIS

When Northern Ireland Water selected Esri’s ArcGIS mapping platform as its new corporate GIS system, it didn’t just get all of the functionality that the business needed. It also gained a suite of additional tools, creating a “place of opportunity” for improving its customers’ experience, reducing costs and removing inefficient processes.

Call centre agents can deliver better customer service with instant visibility of emerging situations

Engineers can design new water networks for developers significantly faster with automated tools

Field-based teams can upload asset information direct to the Corporate Asset Register with mobile apps

The Challenge

Northern Ireland Water was founded in April 2007 as a government-owned company to provide water and sewerage services for 1.8 million people in Northern Ireland. In its first decade, the company underwent a significant transformation, developing new operating models to enhance the way that it delivered customer services and maintained 42,300 km of water mains and sewers. By 2017, however, the company’s aspirations for continued business improvement were being constrained by its two, separate, existing geographic information system (GIS) applications.

“The need for location-based services was growing throughout the organisation, not only for office-based staff but also for our mobile workforce,” says Sean O’Boyle, Asset Information Development Manager at Northern Ireland Water. “We urgently needed to replace our fragmented approach to GIS with a single enterprise system that would support the entire organisation and fuel our drive to deliver even better customer services.”

“ ArcGIS gives us all of the features and capabilities that we were looking for – but it also takes us to another place of opportunity. We can rapidly deploy new web and mobile applications using standard, out-of-the-box ArcGIS tools, to meet new business requirements and moreover we can do this all in house

Sean O’Boyle – Asset Information Development Manager, Northern Ireland Water

The Solution

Northern Ireland Water selected Esri’s ArcGIS because the solution’s capabilities exceeded the organisation’s predicted requirements. “ArcGIS gives us all of the features and capabilities that we were looking for – but it also takes us to another place of opportunity,” explains O’Boyle. “We can rapidly deploy new web and mobile applications using standard, out-of-the-box ArcGIS tools, to meet new business requirements and moreover we can do this all in house.”

With support from Esri Ireland, Northern Ireland Water completed the initial project implementation at an impressive pace, moving from no ArcGIS capabilities at all to a full enterprise ArcGIS platform in less than a year. The consultants from Esri Ireland passed on their knowledge to employees during the project, so that by the time the systems went live, in-house teams were competent in using and managing ArcGIS. “The whole project went live on budget and on time, according to the schedule we set on day one,” notes O’Boyle.

ArcGIS is now used daily by hundreds of users and is available to 1035 employees in total. It is integrated into key workflows right across the organisation and is a core part of the organisation’s Corporate Asset Register, the second most used application within the business after email.

A key solution for Northern Ireland Water is Esri’s ArcGIS for Water Utilities, a set of maps, services, apps and automated processes that have been specifically developed to meet the needs of international water companies. The integrated nature of ArcGIS means that business specialists can edit asset or customer data using ArcGIS on the desktop and then make it instantly accessible to employees via web apps and mobile solutions, all at the click of a button.

“ Northern Ireland Water’s new Corporate GIS, implemented using ESRI technology, gives us the advantage of being able to swiftly deploy spatial solutions to aid decision making

Sara Venning – Chief Executive, Northern Ireland Water

The Benefits

Responsive services for customers
The enterprise-wide implementation of ArcGIS gives all employees in the organisation instant access to accurate location information, which they can use to help them deliver a more responsive customer service. For instance, the locations of all issues reported by customers are streamed real-time on a web map. Displayed on a four metre screen in the customer call centre, this situational awareness map allows incident managers to better monitor the situation in real-time and react quickly to resolve issues.

More efficient business processes
ArcGIS has improved business efficiency by replacing numerous manual, paper-based processes and eliminating the unnecessary duplication of data. In the Developer Services team, for example, engineers now use ArcGIS to design water main networks for planned new residential developments significantly quicker than before, enabling them to deliver a fast, professional and cost-effective service for customers.

A streamlined approach to capital delivery
Northern Ireland Water has exploited the seamless functionality of ArcGIS platform to build a successful proof of concept which delivers the capability to manage the complete life-cycle from engineering design through approvals, construction and on to “as built” asset records making what Paul Davison, Head of Water Capital Delivery at Northern Ireland Water, describes as “A step change in collecting accurate asset data.”

Enhanced safety for personnel working in the field
Using Esri’s Survey 123 for ArcGIS, Northern Ireland Water is now developing a new mobile app that will help the company to identify and respond to potential health and safety risks more quickly. Employees will use their smartphones or tablets to collect data in the field about the locations of trenches, equipment, infrastructure and other potential hazards. Whereas this information might previously have taken up to two weeks to be typed up in a report, it will be transferred to head office in real-time, saving time and allowing managers to intervene rapidly if a safety issue is identified.

Better informed decision making
In a wide variety of ways, ArcGIS gives senior managers at Northern Ireland Water faster access to better quality information. The organisation’s Chief Executive Sara Venning says: “Northern Ireland Water’s new Corporate GIS, implemented using ESRI technology, gives us the advantage of being able to swiftly deploy spatial solutions to aid decision making. This has been particularly evident during incident planning where logistics and location information is of critical importance to us in striving to respond rapidly to our customer needs.”

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Westcountry Rivers Trust

Leading a collaborative approach to river conservation

The Westcountry Rivers Trust is safeguarding fragile river environments in the South West of England, by helping large groups of stakeholders to reach consensus about river usage and conservation. It uses Esri’s ArcGIS Online and data from the national umbrella body, The Rivers Trust, to clarify the ecological impacts of human activity on rivers and prioritise schemes to improve water quality and biodiversity.

Improved understanding of environmental challenges among diverse groups

More effective and collaborative decision making about conservation priorities

Targeted conservation projects that address urgent environmental issues

The Challenge

Rivers in the South West of England flow hundreds of miles, crossing county borders and traversing land owned or managed by as many as 2,000 stakeholders, ranging from local authorities and utilities, to water sports operators and farmers. These organisations, groups and individuals have a shared responsibility to work together to protect their nearby river environments for wildlife and future generations, but can often have widely differing points of view.

Like other rivers trusts throughout the UK, the not-for-profit organisation Westcountry Rivers Trust works with large groups of such stakeholders as part of a catchment-based approach to managing river courses in its region. It aims to facilitate open communication and gain agreement from all groups involved to pave the way for river conservation schemes. “Everyone has their own language for talking about rivers,” observes Sarah Wigley, Data and Evidence Officer for Westcountry Rivers Trust. “Commercial organisations, government bodies and community groups all use different terminology and have very different priorities for river use. Our challenge is to find a way to help everyone understand each other’s needs and to see the bigger picture.”

“ Interactive, digital maps give people from varied backgrounds a common language for collaboration and communication

Sarah Wigley – Data and Evidence Officer, Westcountry Rivers Trust

The Solution

In 2013, the national, umbrella organisation, The Rivers Trust, was assigned by Defra the role of supporting river catchment partnerships across the country (as part of the Catchment-Based Approach initiative). Part of this role was to encourage the use of data and evidence in river catchment management.  Since then, The Rivers Trust has gathered and published a wide range of datasets using Esri’s cloud-based ArcGIS Online platform, including information on river flooding, commercial activity, biodiversity, water quality, land character and soil typology.  All this data is attributed with river catchment boundary information, so it is easy for catchment partnerships nationwide to use. This online data portal is a valuable resource and has already promoted the use of ArcGIS Online amongst many local partnerships.

The Westcountry Rivers Trust uses Esri’s ArcGIS Online and the data from The Rivers Trust to analyse issues of particular environmental concern, comprehend river ecosystems and present the information clearly to river catchment partners.  It uses interactive, digital maps during workshops and meetings, and produces high quality maps for reports to help multiple stakeholders, from any background, better understand and appreciate key issues.  The trust is also beginning to use ArcGIS Online to create persuasive Story Maps that help to highlight issues and explain conservation projects in a highly visual and engaging format.

“ Over time, ArcGIS Online will play a key role in helping river catchment partnerships to improve river quality and biodiversity

Sarah Wigley – Data and Evidence Officer, Westcountry Rivers Trust

The Benefits

Clearer communication of environmental issues
The Westcountry Rivers Trust has been able to significantly improve the effectiveness of catchment-based partnerships in the South West by using ArcGIS Online to present complex information, exceptionally clearly, on maps. Groups and individuals, who may not previously have realised that their commercial, agricultural or leisure activities were having an impact on water quality or biodiversity, can now better understand the environmental consequences. As Wigley says, “ArcGIS can open peoples’ eyes to the broader issues.”

More collaborative, multi-party decision making
Critically, the use of ArcGIS Online helps all of the diverse organisations and individuals involved in catchment-based partnerships to reach collective agreement. “Interactive, digital maps give people from varied backgrounds a common language for collaboration and communication,” Wigley says. “It’s an effective way to bring people together, at the same level, to understand different points of view and work together to make decisions.”

Implement more targeted conservation projects
By using ArcGIS to analyse data on river catchment areas more systematically, the Westcountry Rivers Trust is now able to easily identify issues of concern and can better prioritise conservation projects. In Cornwall, for example, the Westcountry Rivers Trust was able to use ArcGIS to identify declining fish populations and instigate a project to remove barriers at strategic sites along two key rivers to improve access to up-stream breeding areas. “Over time, ArcGIS Online will play a key role in helping river catchment partnerships to improve river quality and biodiversity,” Wigley says.

Raised awareness of the need for river conservation
Finally, by creating Story Maps, the Westcountry Rivers Trust now has a new means of raising public awareness of river conservation issues and the impact of poor land practices alongside rivers. “Story Maps are a good way of presenting scientific data to members of the public in a way that they can easily understand,” Wigley says. “We plan to use Story Maps increasingly in the future to engage the wider community in river conservation programmes.”

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Thames Water

Improving the efficiency and quality of asset maintenance

Thames Water, the UK’s largest water and wastewater services provider, has cut the time required to survey a pipe bridge from 7-10 days to 2-3 hours, while also improving data quality. Consequently, it can now implement a proactive, condition-based maintenance programme to significantly reduce costs and enhance customer satisfaction.

Thames Water has rapid access to accurate, consistent and complete data on thousands of pipe bridges

Maintenance jobs can be prioritised based on condition and planned proactively to reduce pipe bursts

Employees and contractors can perform pipe repairs more cost efficiently and safely

The Challenge

Throughout London and the Thames Valley region there are over 5,000 bridges that convey fresh or waste water pipes over roads, rivers, canals and gorges. Thames Water wanted to implement a more proactive programme of repairs and upgrades to improve the condition of these bridge-based assets, but did not have a complete, centralised source of information about them that it could use to inform its maintenance planning.

Previously, pipe bridges had been surveyed by Thames Water’s regional teams using paper-based sheets in the field. Employees then typed up their surveys when they returned to the office, wasting time with the potential of manual data entry errors. By centralising its pipe bridge survey process, Thames Water aimed to furnish its master asset database with accurate information on all 5,000 pipe bridges and filter out regional variations in the type and quality of data collected.

“ With Esri UK’s help, not only did we solve the problem of the pipe bridges project, but we also gained a degree of self-sufficiency so that we can go on to develop similar projects within the business in the future

Lawrence Smith – Technical Information Manager, Thames Water

The Solution

Thames Water decided to use a GIS-based mobile data collection app that would integrate with its existing centralised ArcGIS database. The solution had to be highly intuitive as it would be used by employees and contractors within eight2O, an alliance of Thames Water, industry partners and joint ventures, formed to deliver a suite of infrastructure investment programmes on behalf of Thames Water.

With minimal consultancy support from Esri UK’s Professional Services team, Thames Water succeeded in developing a Pipe Bridges Validation app in just 14 working days, while also gaining invaluable new GIS skills. “This was our first foray into GIS online and we saw the project as a pilot with intent,” says Dr Lawrence Smith, Technical Information Manager at Thames Water. “With Esri UK’s help, not only did we solve the problem of the pipe bridges project, but we also gained a degree of self-sufficiency so that we can go on to develop similar projects within the business in the future.”

Now in use throughout all of Thames Water’s regions, the Pipe Bridges Validation app draws in existing asset information from ArcGIS Server to partially populate the survey ‘form’ on mobile devices. Employees edit, correct and supplement this information while in the field and, as key fields are mandatory, Thames Water is able to ensure that each pipe bridge survey records the same attributes and information. The data collected is then made available to a secondary app in ArcGIS Online for checking and verification, before being transferred without any additional data entry, into the master database in ArcGIS Server. Managers have a range of reporting tools that they can use to track the progress of surveys and see where survey teams are working at all times.

“ We now have incredibly rapid access to survey data that is complete, accurate and consistent for all the thousands of pipe bridges under our responsibility

Lawrence Smith – Technical Information Manager, Thames Water

The Benefits

Rapid collection of accurate asset information
The new Pipe Bridge Validation app has significantly reduced the time lapse between data collection in the field and the availability of that data at head office. Thames Water estimates that it used to take 7 to 10 days to capture survey information using the previous paper-driven method, but now validated data from completed pipe bridge surveys is available centrally in just 2 or 3 hours. “We now have incredibly rapid access to survey data that is complete, accurate and consistent for all the thousands of pipe bridges under our responsibility,” Smith says.

Proactive asset maintenance to enhance customer satisfaction
With improved pipe bridge data, Thames Water is now able to implement a proactive, condition-based asset maintenance programme that is, in time, expected to contribute to enhanced customer satisfaction. The company can prioritise repairs on the pipe bridges that are in the worst condition, minimising the likelihood of sudden pipe bursts or pollution incidents that might lead to customer complaints or reputational damage. With fewer complaints and service issues, Thames Water can improve its Ofwat customer index score.

Sustainable cost efficiencies in planned maintenance activities
Maintenance activities can also be undertaken far more cost efficiently, due to effective planning. Managers within both Thames Water and eight2O have better information to enable them to assign the correct maintenance plan to each pipe bridge, gain the necessary access permissions in advance and dispatch the right teams with the appropriate equipment and materials. Consequently, engineers are less likely to waste time sitting in their vans waiting for landowners to unlock access gates and will avoid having to make unnecessary repeat trips because they have the wrong materials in their vans for the type of pipe on the bridge.

Greater employee, contractor and public safety
In the new GIS-led process, surveyors take photos of pipe bridges and these images – along with supplementary data captured in the field – help to improve understanding of potential hazards at pipe bridges. When going out to each new maintenance job, employees and contractors from Thames Water and eight2O will now be better informed about what to expect and can ensure they have the right safety equipment with them to protect themselves and the general public during essential works.

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Wessex Water

Achieving excellence in customer communications

With 2.7 million customers across the south west of England, Wessex Water is constantly striving to enhance the effectiveness and value of its external communications. The organisation has recently leveraged Esri’s ArcGIS technology not only to diversify its communications channels, but also to significantly improve the quality and timeliness of the information it shares.

An ArcGIS web service gives customers easier access to information about maintenance works

The integration of GIS and SMS messaging facilitates timely notifications of water supply issues

Esri’s Operations Dashboard improves customer communications in the call centre

The Challenge

Wessex Water was the top scoring water and sewerage company for customer service in 2015, according to Ofwat’s service incentive mechanism (SIM) – and this coveted position is one that the company is keen to maintain. “We have been ranked in the top three UK utilities for customer service ever since privatisation, and you don’t achieve this incredible track record by sitting still and not evolving,” says Andy Nicholson, Asset Data Manager at Wessex Water. “As a business, we are constantly looking for new, creative ways to improve our customer communication, and GIS gives us an ideal platform for innovation.”

“ The ArcGIS-based interactive map supports our customer service vision by making it as easy as possible for customers to interact with us via the communication channel of their choice

Ryan Davies – Customer Experience Manager, Wessex Water

The Solution

With over 16 years’ experience of using Esri’s geographic information system (GIS) solutions and an Enterprise Licence Agreement for Esri’s ArcGIS platform, Wessex Water had all the technology and skills it needed to drive four recent initiatives that, in a range of different ways, help to improve customer communications.

The first of these developments is an interactive online map that allows Wessex Water to share accurate, up-to-date information about planned and emergency works currently taking place throughout the region. Created using Esri’s ArcGIS Online solution, this web map includes added features such as live chat buttons, which enable customers to connect easily with customer service agents from within the map.

The second initiative is a new SMS-based communication tool that leverages Wessex Water’s existing operational GIS platform. Where there are temporary water service interruptions, engineers in the field use their mobile devices to draw polygons around the relevant streets. A list of customers’ mobile numbers is then automatically extracted by Esri derived client software, enabling the customer service team to quickly send out a timely text-based message to all households affected by the works.

In the customer call centre, Wessex Water has used Esri’s Operations Dashboard to improve communications by providing an up-to-the-minute graphical overview of incidents on huge wall-mounted, smart screens. The dashboard is also available via the organisation’s intranet, so in the event of an emergency, it is possible to make this real-time operational information available to managers on any internet-connected device.

Finally, Wessex Water has used ArcGIS Online and Story Map templates to more effectively convey information to the general public in a format that is simple to understand and easy for them to engage with. Published on the utility’s web site, they include an interactive, fully illustrated Story Map about a multi-agency scheme to improve habitats in the Stour region and protect native species.

Wessex Water was able to quickly introduce these four GIS-based initiatives, at low cost, as they were all developed using either the organisation’s existing Esri GIS services or new out-of-the-box Esri apps. “We developed the web map from concept to first proof in just three days,” recalls Nicholson. “All the projects were developed as part of ‘business as usual’ for the GIS team, removing the need for specific funding and project management overheads.”

“ Together with the ArcGIS web map, our GIS-enabled messaging service has led to a 20% fall in calls to our Customer Service Unit reporting problems with ‘no water’

Ryan Davies – Customer Experience Manager, Wessex Water

Benefits

Easier access to up-to-date information
The new web map allows Wessex Water to keep customers far better informed about current maintenance activities. It receives over 800 hits a month and is popular with customers, who can use it to quickly find the information they need without having to make a phone call. “The ArcGIS-based interactive map supports our customer service vision by making it as easy as possible for customers to interact with us via the communication channel of their choice,” says Ryan Davies, Customer Experience Manager at Wessex Water.

More timely notification about water supply issues
The SMS messaging service has proven highly effective in enabling Wessex Water to let customers know about emergency, unplanned maintenance works, so they do not become distressed or alarmed by an unexpected loss of water. “Customers are now far better informed,” Davies says. “Together with the ArcGIS web map, our GIS-enabled messaging service has led to a 20% fall in calls to our Customer Service Unit reporting problems with ‘no water’.”

More helpful dialogues with the call centre
Thanks to the introduction of the huge, visual dashboards in the Customer Service Unit, Wessex Water’s call handlers can provide more informative responses to customer queries. “The dashboard gives call centre agents greater awareness of issues occurring in the Wessex region,” comments Nicholson. “The outcome of the call is more likely to be helpful for the caller and more questions can be resolved first time.”

Greater awareness of the work done by Wessex Water
By viewing the ArcGIS Story Maps, members of the public can now better appreciate the full spectrum of activities that Wessex Water is involved in. As Nicholson says, “The Story Maps bring information together in a more understandable way and this, in turn, helps Wessex Water build a positive public perception of the company.”

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Thames Water

Transforming business processes enterprise-wide

The UK’s largest water and wastewater services company replaced multiple disparate GIS systems with Esri’s ArcGIS platform and integrated it with its SAP customer relationship management (CRM) solution. This single enterprise-wide GIS is now used by 2,000 office-based employees and 900 field workers to help them make better decisions, work more efficiently and deliver excellent customer service.


Case study – Utilities


The Customer

Serving up to 15 million customers in London and the Thames Valley, Thames Water is the UK’s largest water and wastewater services company. It supplies around 2,600 million litres of tap water and removes and treats more than 4 billion litres of sewage every day.

Call centre agents can locate issues more precisely and provide a faster, more appropriate response to customers, improving customer satisfaction

Field workers use ArcGIS Mobile to locate jobs and assets more easily, which enables them to work more productively and speed up repairs

ArcGIS gives managers a deeper understanding of the condition of assets, so they can better plan replacement programmes

The Challenge

Thames Water has been using geographic information system (GIS) solutions from Esri UK for over six years and this single technology now supports almost every part of the organisation. However, the situation used to be quite the opposite.

Previously, Thames Water relied on a wide number of geographic mapping tools to enable different groups of employees to perform different tasks in different parts of the business. “All these solutions met a need, but none of them met all our needs,” explains Jon Regan, head of business integration centre at Thames Water. “We had pockets of functionality and knowing which system to use for different business processes was quite confusing.”

These separate systems were not only hard to maintain and use, but also contributed to an unsatisfactory quality of asset data. “We had long lead times for making field updates and sometimes it took months to record the new position of an asset,” Regan says. “Simply keeping a single version of the truth was very challenging.”

“ We were not just deploying a new technology to replace, simplify and rationalise our existing geographic systems; rather we were investing in a strategic platform that we could continue to evolve over time to meet the needs of the business

Jon Regan – head of business integration centre, Thames Water

The Solution

To address these issues, Thames Water replaced all of its previous, disparate systems with Esri’s ArcGIS platform. But it didn’t stop there. The solution also gave Thames Water the ability to extend GIS into many other parts of the business where it could deliver added value. “We were not just deploying a new technology to replace, simplify and rationalise our existing geographic systems; rather we were investing in a strategic platform that we could continue to evolve over time to meet the needs of the business,” Regan says.

One of Thames Water’s new GIS developments is the integration of ArcGIS into the organisation’s SAP customer relationship management (CRM) system. Now, for the first time, when customers contact Thames Water, call centre agents can locate the caller, identify assets in relation to that customer address and easily see any outstanding maintenance activities are. This information makes diagnosing customer issues easier.

In addition, Thames Water has used the ArcGIS platform to exchange accurate asset and location information with its mobile engineers, surveyors and field workers. When they launch their ruggedised laptops, ArcGIS Mobile automatically opens at their location and enables them to enter information about the job in hand. Any asset updates recorded in the field are automatically audited and transferred to the central asset database, where they are visible to everyone in the company.

“ The combination of GIS with CRM empowers our customer agents with better information, helping them to diagnose customer issues more accurately and initiate the best response

Jon Regan – head of business integration centre, Thames Water

Benefits

ArcGIS gives Thames Water a single, accurate and up-to-date record of all of its assets and makes this vital business information accessible to employees right across the business. 2,000 office workers and 900 field agents all use the same GIS to help them make better decisions, work efficiently and deliver excellent customer service.

In the customer contact centre, agents use ArcGIS to help them respond more quickly and appropriately to customer queries and issues. “The combination of GIS with CRM empowers our customer agents with better information, helping them to diagnose customer issues more accurately and initiate the best response,” Regan says.

In the field, employees can work more productively, as they are directed to the right place straight away and don’t waste time looking for assets that have been moved. They can instantly see the locations of Thames Water’s own assets and the property of other utilities (such as buried cables) and make decisions that can speed up repairs and minimise public inconvenience. Regan notes: “Having the right data helps us in so many ways to improve the efficiency of our processes.”

The asset management teams use ArcGIS to gain a deeper understanding of the condition of the organisation’s assets. They analyse asset performance and make informed decisions about which assets need replacing first and where investment should be directed, to get a better return on capital.

ArcGIS has also led to cost savings, particularly in back-office areas and IT. For example, now that asset update information flows directly and automatically from agents working in the field direct to the central asset database, few administrators are required to process data. Similarly, in the IT department, it is more cost effective to manage a single solution rather than multiple separate systems.

Without doubt, ArcGIS has become an indispensable enterprise system for Thames Water and will continue to play a vital role in the business, as it steadfastly evolves to meet the needs of customers and regulators. Regan concludes: “ArcGIS is a strategic platform that will give us even more benefits over the long term.”

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Veolia Water

Turning the tap on enterprise-wide efficiency gains

Replacing two legacy systems, Veolia Water deployed Esri’s ArcGIS platform to create a single, integrated GIS for over 600 employees. This enterprise-wide GIS strategy is increasing the efficiency of business processes and leading to long term cost savings, as well as improvements in customer service.

The Customer

Veolia Water UK relies on geographic information systems (GIS) to supply over 900 million litres of fresh drinking water to 3.5 million customers every day, using around 16,000 km of water mains.

ArcGIS gives all employees a single, accurate, up-to-date view of assets, leading to better decision making

Customer service is improved as the organisation can respond to leaks more quickly and work more efficiently

Veolia Water expects to secure ROI in enterprise-wide GIS in less than five years

The Challenge

Veolia had two main legacy GIS applications, which were no longer supported, making it difficult to adapt to changing business requirements.

Most significantly, the company had no single source of up-to-date spatial data, contributing to poor data quality, data duplication and other inefficiencies. “We had to reduce the risk of making operational decisions based on information that wasn’t absolutely correct”, says Steve Andersen, Works Systems Manager. “At the same time, we wanted to become more efficient in the way that we worked.”

“ By having consistent data and ArcGIS tools in place throughout our organisation, we will be able to improve many business processes

Steve Anderson – Works Systems Manager

The Solution

Working closely with Veolia’s own staff, Esri designed and implemented the new corporate GIS solution, including extensive data cleansing and knowledge transfer to key Veolia users.

The solution was delivered in three phases, over twelve months. The first and most significant phase was the single central spatial database, created using ArcGIS Server, running on an Oracle database, and accessed via a web browser.

In phase two, Veolia extended database access to over 600 users, with a bespoke web page for each distinct group of users. This reduced unnecessary complexity, making it easy for users to find the tools they needed. In addition, the existing field-based GIS was upgraded to use the new database.

Deploying Esri’s ArcGIS Desktop software to provide full-featured GIS to over 50 specialist users was the final phase.

“ As our business grows, we will be able to achieve more with the same number of people. In the future, I see huge gains in efficiency across the entire business

Steve Anderson – Works Systems Manager

Benefits

For the first time, Veolia has a fully integrated and centralised GIS:

One version of the truth
“Our network is a living thing that can change in nature at a moment’s notice”, says Andersen, and now the current status of all network assets is visible to all users, at all times.

More efficient business processes
“By having consistent data and ArcGIS tools in place throughout our organisation, we will be able to improve many business processes”, says Andersen. New automated processes include updating water leakage schematics whenever the central database is updated.

Long term cost savings
Andersen believes that “Veolia Water UK anticipates getting return on its investment within five years and hopes to benefit financially far greater than this into the future.”

Improved customer service
Responses to issues such as leaks are quicker, and there are new browser-based tools. For example, the conveyancing department can supply solicitors and home movers with a map, clearly showing the water main nearest to a property.

Reduced risk
Veolia now has a fully supported solution that can link to external systems and expand to meet changing requirements. In addition, ArcGIS improves the accuracy of street works, thus minimising the risk of corrective measures and fines.

Better decision making
Employees now trust the data, without the overhead of weekly data refreshes, the risk of basing decisions on out-of-date information, or field staff wasting time returning to the depot between jobs. Furthermore, “it was very difficult for us to distinguish between what was in the ground and what was proposed”, admits Andersen, but, “we are now much more able to show proposed pipe lines for new housing developments on the system. This helps the management team to make good long term investment decisions.”

Improved information sharing
ArcGIS makes it easier for Veolia to share information with other water authorities, external partners, public bodies, regulators (OfWat and DWI) and government departments. Flexibility to integrate map feeds from the internet and feed out its own information is crucial. “Being able to integrate with web services of all types is a key advantage,” says Evan Quick, GIS Manager.

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