Web-Based GIS Access Streamlines Wastewater Districts’ Operations

Three small California wastewater districts have streamlined workflow using Dudek’s new online GIS Viewer that provides web-based access to the district’s GIS files.

“We can now view, query and manage our infrastructure information far more efficiently,” said Chuck Duffy, who serves as general manager for the Rancho Santa Fe, Whispering Palms and Fairbanks Ranch community services districts. “It provides robust GIS capabilities delivered in a simple-to-use web-based user interface. Best of all, no GIS expertise is required to use the application.”

A web-based mapping and database application, the GIS Viewer serves as a one-stop source of information for the districts’ in-ground infrastructure. The viewer application is built on industry-standard ESRI ArcGIS technology and integrates software developed by Dudek.

Any district staff member can display a map of the district’s infrastructure using the GIS Viewer. Staffers can click on infrastructure elements such as pipelines, manholes, pump station, and parcels to call up a database providing information about the selected item, such as date constructed, material type, size of pipeline, and other information.

The GIS Viewer allows the district to include links to each infrastructure item to view additional media. For instance, clicking on a pipeline segment provides a link to the original improvement plans for the pipeline, the most recent CCTV video of the pipeline, or pictures associated with the pipeline. Related documents or notes on condition assessment are included.

Underlying the interactive mapping system is a series of databases that anyone in the district can query for data gathering. If a district engineer wishes to review a list of all pipelines built prior to 1940, a simple query creates a table of these pipeline segments, which is also exportable to an Excel worksheet. The application can also take that queried database and visually highlight those pre-1940 pipelines on the map itself. New databases can easily be added.

“The ability to query and highlight greatly expands our capabilities ability to provide for short term and long term management of its assets and infrastructure,” Duffy said.

The mapping system is comprised of various individual “layers” such as pipelines, roads, parcel lines, topography, and satellite imagery. The district personnel can turn layers on and off as needed to focus on the task at hand. As with the databases, additional layers can be added as needed. The application can also generate PDFs of the whole map or various parts of it.

Duffy said the GIS Viewer has helped the three districts with the following:

Streamlined workflow: Because the GIS Viewer is online, it allows real-time updating of GIS data for items like permitted parcels, changes to infrastructure, and system maintenance records.

Centralized master data: The GIS Viewer provides better access to a wide range of data because it has consolidated data once scattered in numerous folders into one online location.

Centralized views: All district staff are able to see the same authoritative data, without duplication or outdated information, as is often the case with paper maps/drawings. Field staff and office staff have access to the same data at the same time for improved coordination.

Information updated in real-time: The web-viewer can deliver visual information (spatial and tabular) in real-time it is modified in the database.

“As small districts we need to carefully evaluate the benefits of new technologies,” Duffy said. “The GIS Viewer and database consolidation has delivered significant efficiencies and cost-saving benefits. This one application has consolidated literally thousands of documents, spreadsheets, and improvement plans, and literally put all of them into the palm of our hands. And, the application’s return on investment will grow into the future as more and more management tools are added to the underlying system.”