Spatial Informatics in Water Supply Management: The Case of Mariborski Vodovod
More and more companies in different industries realized benefits of GIS and its integration with business informatics. The chapter describes attempts on the area of GIS and business integration in public company for water supply in Maribor, Slovenia. The company Mariborski vodovod is the leader in using GIS in the region. Value-added which the company is achieving for GIS and business informatics integration is explained, and best practice is presented. The company already moved from the implementation of basic functionalities to more advanced functionalities. The case describes how such integration helps the company to run their daily operations better and how management is supported with a better and in-depth view on operations.
KeywordsWater supply management Enterprise resource planning ERP Business intelligence BI Geographical information systems GIS Water supply SCADA
Mariborski vodovod is a public company located town Maribor in Slovenia. Maribor is the second biggest town in Slovenia and is a centre of its northeast region. The company is owned by municipalities in the region, and its main activity is the collection, purification and distribution of sufficient quantity and quality of drinking water for more than 166 thousand of customers – users – which is about 11% of the Slovenian population. They have the largest water distribution network in Slovenia. The distribution network consists of over 1615 km of water supply pipeline system and over 260 facilities. They operate ten water sources and some smaller reservoirs which provide the water to their customers. Annually they pump 13,7 million cubic meters of drinking water which supplies 16 municipalities. Their largest water source and pumping station is Vrbanski plato which provide 760 litres per second of fresh water. This location has natural as well as technical protection and is irreplaceable for supplying water.
Their complementary activities are manufacturing, servicing and sale of water meters, construction and assembly work on the water supply network, engineering projects and technical consultancy in the field of water supply. They are also issuing approvals for the project documentation and construction documentation. They are also carrying construction and building works for connecting customers to the public water supply network.
They are a public company, and as such, they operate as a non-profit organisation according to their mission of providing quality drinking water supply. Their strategy is to be a modern and efficient public company. One of their very important goals is to implement all aspects of the modern way of business including environmental friendliness and sustainability and also with a high level of social responsibility. In all business decisions, they include the environmental management issues in accordance with the principles of sustainable development. Their digital transformation orientation and implementation of e-business are focused in: more efficient core operations of water supply, nature prevention, user-friendliness to their customers, and improved connectivity with their stakeholders (owners and partners). With E-procurement in the online ordering processing, they implemented paperless procurement of materials and services. They have implemented e-invoicing so more, and more of their customers and partners are receiving e-invoices to pay them with a »single click«.
Their Facebook profile serves as very effective communication tools for forwarding relevant, up-to-date information regarding water supply to customers and is also offering insight into their operational environment and activities. Their website is mainly used as a communication tool and a platform where the company information is published. Their web site also offers special services for blind people and for people with eye-difficulties providing them information about the latest news and also information about invoice details as voice messages.
They are one of the most successful public companies in Slovenia. They are recipients of the European certificate of business excellence; their annual report is the »Best Annual Report among other organisations in 2012 in Slovenia«. They are the first company to receive the award from the Slovenian Chamber of Communal Economy. By receiving the Family-Friendly Company certificate, they proved that they follow the principle that a successful career and family life are not incompatible. Therefore they implement the solutions and activities to enable the coordination of work and family life of employees. They also received several Slovenian awards for social responsibility »HORUS«. Thus they have proved that they are aware of social responsibility regarding the environment, their employees, their business partners and general society.
They know how important it is to raise the awareness of citizens and the wider public about saving drinking water. Therefore they associate themselves with educational institutions and particularly for the younger generation. They prepare lectures about how to deal efficiently with drinking water and how important it is that the environment near water sources remains clean.
In the area where Mariborski vodovod supplies citizens with drinking water, they placed 33 outdoor drinking fountains where passers-by can refresh themselves on hot days with cold and tasty drinking water. Because animals need water too, we also added drinking fountains for pets to the same of the fountains.
Their drinking water supplies are under constant surveillance. Both, the internal and external microbiological and chemical analyses are carried out, which ensures that safe drinking water reaches the user’s tap. With the careful selection of suppliers and installing quality materials, they try to ensure customers satisfaction. Of course, they also conduct regular maintenance of water supply facilities and the water supply network, and they are trying to raise awareness among the general public how to deal with drinking water efficiently.
12.2 Information Systems Infrastructure and Architecture in Mariborski Vodovod
Water supply is among the most important and crucial utilities delivered by countries. EU Directive 114/2008 defines water supply infrastructure as »critical infrastructure« of EU. Legislation in Slovenia follows these guidelines and further defines approaches and procedures regarding critical infrastructure operation and maintenance. This includes requisites for uninterrupted supply of healthy drinking water 365 days and 24 h daily.
Business information systems – comprised in its core of Enterprise resources planning solutions and other applications for support of business activities of the company
Geo information systems (GIS) – includes access to cadastre of the territory on which Mariborski vodovod supplies water and applications and tools for processing of spatial data and their visualisation
Technical (SCADA) information systems – includes applications needed for monitoring and control of pumping and distribution system of water.
12.3 Integration of ERP and GIS
Enterprise resource planning functionality is in Mariborski vodovod achieved by integration of accounting, warehouse management and human resources management application modules with billing, work order management, asset management, water loss management, smart meter reading, and vehicles management.
12.4 Integration of SCADA and GIS
12.4.1 The Project “Ruptured Pipelines in the Network”
12.4.2 Project »Smart Metering and Pay-As-You-Use Billing«
Modern concepts of services and utilities billing emphasise the »pay-as-you-use« models. In some industries such as electricity and telecommunications, this is quite easy because of technology platforms used. For water supply implementation of »pay-as-you-use« concept is more difficult while customers have mechanical water meters which are mechanical. For such devices, it is necessary that water supply company employee visits customer premises and reads the water meter and the data is edited to tablet. This is usually done once a year. During the year customers are billed on the basis of forecasted/calculated use. The problem arises if there is substantial leaking of water for which customer is not aware while the customer gets a huge bill at the end of the period.
12.4.3 The Project “Pumping Facilities”
12.5 Integration of Advanced Applications and GIS
Mariborski vodovod is conducting intensive digital transformation which was defined as part of their strategy. To achieve these goals they have already implemented some projects of advanced applications while some are still in progress. In several advanced applications, high level of integration with GIS is needed.
12.5.1 Project »Water System Optimisation with Hydraulic Modelling«
12.5.2 Project »Mobile Spatial Data for Employees«
12.5.3 Project »Satellite Water Leak Detection«
As mentioned water system of Mariborski vodovod consist of 1600 km of pipelines, Pipelines are of different materials and also different age, so the condition of it is different from location to location. Such complex systems require continuous monitoring and repairs. Spots of extensive leaking can be easily detected while it is seen and therefore can be repaired. More problematic are small leaking which happens underneath and which cannot be seen. Because of pipeline beaks, up to 30% of water is lost.
Pipeline breaks are detected by metering devices which show consumption in different parts of the water system and increase shows that a pipeline break has happened. Field staff is using special detector devices which allow them to trace breaking spots. Because of the water systems complexity, it is impossible to monitor in such a way the whole watering systems by filed force.
To improve monitoring of water system, Mariborski vodovod implemented satellite detecting of water loses. Satellite scans the area using remote sensing and detects humidity up to 3 m below surface. Collected data are then analysed using the maps of water systems and with computer, algorithms showing possible places of pipeline leaking. The potential leaking spot is detected in the circle of 45 m.
Use of GIS in organisations and its integration with other information system becomes widespread and is an important issue for organisations. The functionality of GIS is very useful and add value to information systems already used in organisations. Importance of GIS differs from organisation to organization and also from industry to industry. Industries with location based resources and wit location based business events are leaders in GIS implementation and use. There are many opportunities to use GIS in organizations – the company Mariborski vododovod already exploited many of them successfully Examples of GIS use in Mariborski Vodovod show that they are beyond initial GIS use on a basic level and that they use GIS on an advanced level. According to this, we can conclude that they already entered the GIS adoption phase which correspond to stabile and advanced use and that they are approaching maturity phase. Without the leadership of top management – CEO and CIO – this could not be possible.
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