A bead of sweat trickles down the brow of Queensland Water service providers in spring each year. Why is that?
Each year Service Providers (SPs) must collate significant volumes of data on water and sewerage services to numerous State and Commonwealth agencies. The Statewide Water Information Management (SWIM) project was created in 2006 to simplify reporting of up to 900+ indicators reported by some Queensland SPs. Today, thanks to the SWIM program, the SWIMonline portal and data translation tools require the reporting of only around 200 indicators in total which are then passed on to State and Commonwealth agencies in specified formats. Other deadlines include BoM data on 31 August each year and NPR, ABS and Queensland Government data generally submitted around early October.
For each requirement more beads of sweat develop if the information is not electronic and not readily accessible. The solution needs to be a part of everyday life, rather than a special event to be celebrated when done. Water Service Providers throughout Queensland construct various ways to assemble the information and lodge it online using the different portals and tools provided by each agency. In 2014, Mareeba Shire Council working closely with Parasyn developed a strategy to digitise the assembly of data and information management and automatically prepare the SWIM or any other reporting requirements that the organisation had to comply to.
The source of data that feeds into the Enterprise Reporting system used to push the key information into the right reporting format may come from data loggers, lab data (LIMS), SCADA, spreadsheets used for recording manual readings of meters or customised instrumentation devices.
Most of the traditional collection methods are fraught with process capture limitations and rarely are they automated or integrated into existing enterprise systems like the business ERP System (Enterprise Resource Planning).
By shaping the methods of collecting data and systemising how the data is recorded, the integrity of the information significantly increases. It becomes more predictable and reliable. As the data is digitised the time the data is captured is also recording adding a whole new dimension to how the assets are managed in real time. The sampled information, the time and the date of the event is all captured in the enterprise reporting system.
To enhance the reuse of manual data already being recorded by plant operators, data is now directly entered into SCADA, where it is processed and pushed into the enterprise reporting system. This means that the data is validated at the time it is entered, not later when something is inadvertently observed in a report. By capturing the information and creating appropriate context including seeing history of how it performed previously, there is no need to revisit the information later; a big saving. The two fold benefit of this is operators now see manual data and the automated SCADA data all in the one place, the SCADA. The significance of this long term benefit is sometimes hard to appreciate at first glance, however the days of spreadsheets for “special” data and reams of paper in the truck that describes remote plant, are quickly disappearing. Operators do not need to ask questions about remote plant that is currently “unmonitored” because the information about the remote assets is captured when personnel visit the sites for inspections and it all “ends up” in SCADA.
Presenting the data in a usable format for “consumption” is the easy bit, once it lives in the digital space. Simple as this may seem, this is one example of big data in its infancy. The benefits begin to multiply exponentially after the data is captured in a suitable enterprise system, as information is freely accessible in a secured and managed fashion. Information can be pushed to compliance agencies, published internally to “corporate” users or analysed by network planners, scientists, modellers and asset managers all wanting to improve the service provided to their customers. The key takeaway here is organise the data, systemise how it is captured and store the data securely. The “easy bit”, publish information to the right people at the right time.
Each organisation has a unique information infrastructure footprint, a unique set of operational requirements and a history of discipline about how data is managed. This can all be shaped and managed to produce more reliable and sustainable management of the assets the data represents. So the greater effort is in getting organised, understanding how information can be appropriately gathered efficiently, collecting data using conventional tools, and storing the data securely. The technology is important, however the technology doesn’t organise itself. The rules of managing data are logical, but they are different for each organisation. Once asset information is digitised reliably and accurately, it is ready for consumption. You decide how, when, where and why and the big take away is your own team is likely to have the skills to consume the data if it was done right the first time!
“Electronic submissions to SWIM provides substantial savings for mid sized Water Service Providers such as Mareeba Shire Council as it reduces staff time required to report on multiple data requests and gives staff the security the data being uploaded is accurate and concise, and this also allows staff to focus on their core essential duties.
Mareeba Shire Council’s experience with Parasyn from initial enquiry to project progression, Parasyn were very helpful, professional and prompt showing genuine interest in our objectives and were very enthusiastic during all stages of our project. Ensuring that we were not only getting what we required, but also highlighting initiatives and contributing valuable suggestions to help us achieve our goal.”
Morris Hamill – Manager Water & Waste