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How Philadelphia Manages the Deluge of Data

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When the Philadelphia area is experiencing a deluge, the residents expect their sewerage and drainage systems to perform properly for their safety and health. The key to this performance lies in the tasks that occur on a regular basis, before the rains commence. The Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) is responsible for sewerage and drainage over the entire area of the city serving more than two million residents.

To manage this vast collection system, nearly 300 locations have level and/or flow sensors that report to the central maintenance facility. Control chambers have been modified to house computer-controlled gates to operate off local setpoints in response to high flows. A Geographic Information System has provided a detailed inventory of all pipes, manholes, inlets, and other appurtenances in the system. In addition to these sources, an average of 28,000 feet of pipeline is inspected each month using full digital video which is available throughout the city's computer network.

This information is managed at a recently constructed Real-Time Control Center, using various software applications that integrate these sources of information to help the operators make the near-term decisions required to provide the protection for water quality and the reduce flooding.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2006-01-01

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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