A partnership between the Queensland Water Directorate (qldwater) and Lutra is providing urban water service providers with powerful analytics and better visualisation of data at a local level.

In 2006, qldwater created the Statewide Water Information Management (SWIM) project to help simplify the reporting requirements of Queensland service providers.

The SWIM system has done this through removing duplication, aligning reporting times, advocating for improved definitions and indicators, and improving data entry QA/QC through the use of a database for data entry. qldwater members using SWIM now report about one quarter of the indicators they used to and in one format at one time.  

Following the success of this significant piece of work, qldwater wanted to add more value for members by introducing a data management tool (SWIMLocal ) that is seamlessly linked to SWIM and which allows service providers to better manage their daily water and sewerage data.

A key part of this strategy to improve data management and use is the development of dashboards to monitor operational performance.

According to qldwater SWIM Manager, Dr David Scheltinga, developing additional software tools in-house was an expensive, resource intensive and risky undertaking, so he started investigating commercially available “off the shelf” systems that would integrate with the existing SWIM database.

“We selected Lutra’s Infrastructure Data (ID) software system because their experience as a company of water and wastewater process engineers gave them a strong understanding of the processes and associated problems we were trying to solve, allowing us to get the best value from operational data,” Dr Scheltinga said.

Enhancing the user interface

A set of customised dashboards and reports has been developed with input from a number of water treatment experts.

The dashboards are designed to give operators and managers better visual trending information to support more efficient plant operations and improve transparency for decision makers.

The new system is web-based so users can access the dashboards and reports across multiple locations and with mobile devices.

To date, the ID software has been trialled at four water treatment plants and two sewage treatment plants in Queensland, with more trials in the pipeline.

Burdekin Shire Council Manager Water and Wastewater, Shaun Johnston, said SWIMLocal took the best parts from Excel, databases and the Cloud to give an all-round more functional result.

“The system provides powerful reporting functions to simplify management of large volumes of data and now we have a visual dashboard that provides real-time monitoring,” Mr Johnston added.

“The new ID dashboards will broaden SWIM’s appeal to less technical people in the management area and extend its value to operators in a user-friendly, customer-focused way.”

Driving down costs through collaboration

The collaboration with Lutra has avoided significant development costs for qldwater. Furthermore, Lutra have tailored its ID platform to meet the needs of service providers at a very affordable price, allowing qldwater to deliver best value to members.  

Recent analysis from Fraser Coast Regional Council, as a new subscriber to the fully licensed SWIMLocal product, estimated that the system will save 256 days per year (or approximately $70,000) across various roles for a $5000 investment in the SWIMLocal software.

Lutra CEO, Chris Laidlow, said the qldwater / ID partnership allowed the two organisations to create a fit-for-purpose platform informed by managers and operators with on the ground experience.

“By combining our specialist process engineering and operations management experience with local expertise and advice from SWIM users we have put together dashboard and report layouts that give SWIMLocal users access to powerful analytics, automated reporting and visualisation of water quality and treatment plant performance data.”

For Trevor Seth, Water and Sewerage Manager at Goondiwindi Regional Council, the biggest bonus was having instant access to both current and historical data.

“When Council engages consultants to review, design or upgrade processes, the first thing they ask for is lots of data. SWIMLocal allows us to pull a report on data with the selected parameters and, in our case, we can provide five years of data within minutes of the request.”

Qldwater will be supporting a number of new trial service providers for a period of twelve months. Barcoo, Burdekin and Goondiwindi are currently trialling the ID system with Gympie and Torres Strait Islands sites under development.

SWIM Manager, Dr David Scheltinga, and Lutra Product Manager, Maseina Koneferenisi, will be presenting a paper at the WIOA Conference in Logan on 6–7 June.  

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