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Vertically Integrating GIS and Operational Data for Water Distribution: An Unrestricted Look at What It Really Takes

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Is there a reasonable sequence of events that leads to a fully integrated enterprise GIS - for water operators? The maturity of mobile applications and the simplicity of new development environments have a lot of water operators considering just that. They are beginning to search for ways to better leverage GIS investments and discovering in the process that the systems they bought serve only a fraction of their business process. System designs driven by administrative applications like asset management lack the spatial accuracy to support operations. Engineering based systems that support flow modeling and design lack attribute data needed for operations. It does not escape the GIS industry that the bulk of a water operator's staff falls into the category of operations or maintenance. The industry faces a challenge, however; fully integrating GIS with water operations requires a rehabilitative approach.

Water operators rely on a quantity of data that is no less than mountainous. In many instances more than 50 data elements per appurtenance is spread across several systems that range from people to paper to databases. The challenge is to integrate these systems in a sustainable way; one that does not challenge the business process but rather streamlines it. Enterprise GIS architecture is designed for reengineered processes. It is not designed for rehabilitating systems of data that are already fully integrated but lack critical components

Rehabilitating these systems in the context of the business decision-making process will require no less than institutional change. Join me for a refreshing and unrestricted look at what it really takes to vertically integrate systems of data that serve operations…the masses.

Keywords: CMMS; GIS; GPS Mapping; asset management; distribution system

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2009

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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 These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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