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Digital water management app helps utilities cut costs and improve error rates

Three of Australia’s leading water utilities have implemented an award-winning digitised water management survey method to identify sources of pathogens and systematically quantify the risk to human health.

Melbourne Water, SEQWater and Barwon Water have adopted a new digital water catchment survey application, developed by GHD, to streamline their environmental work and make the process of conducting sanitary surveys of drinking water catchments more efficient. This development recently earned GHD’s digital team recognition at the Victorian Spatial Excellence Awards in Australia.

GHD Location Intelligence Senior Advisor Mina Jahanshahi said the new method is more time- and cost-efficient, and is also more effective as it removes room for errors.

“Normally, scientists, surveyors and engineers spend a lot of time transferring data collected in the field into a digital format, then classifying all the surveys for each catchment, followed by calculating all intermediate and cumulative results, and finally transferring the information into a report,” she said.

“Each step is not only time-consuming, but it also increases the chances of errors creeping up somewhere in the process. Our new approach enables people to focus on the core of environmental work – drawing conclusions from the data – instead of having to act as database managers.”

Jahanshahi said the new digitalised approach takes a lot of the leg work out of the process, which is required by environmental regulators regularly, right across Australia.

“The process is easily repeatable for sanitary survey projects across Australia. This is especially important since sanitary surveys have to be undertaken at regular intervals under environmental regulations,” she said.

On site, a person uses their preferred digital device to complete a questionnaire that selects and presents questions based on previous answers. The cumulative risks are calculated and presented live depending on the responses.

“The water sector is on the cusp of digital transformation. This is an example of what’s possible when you take an analogue and time-consuming process into a digital environment,” said GHD Global Digital Leader Kumar Parakala.

“We can use digital tools to streamline and automate, freeing up people to apply their domain knowledge and develop insights.”