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Florida’s Seminole County Environmental Services Division (SCESD) is in the midst of a major capital improvement program (CIP) to upgrade and expand its infrastructure to support current and projected demand for water, wastewater and reclaimed water service. The utility was in need of a tool that improves coordination between vital business activities and increases information visibility and work process efficiency for the SCESD.
In order to meet current and future service demand, some of the following areas needed to be addressed:
To help meet the challenges of the CIP while continuing to provide customer service and comply with regulatory requirements, CH2M Hill and Critigen performed a business process analysis and recommended SCESD look to information technologies for help to build a utility enterprise system. This includes a data warehouse that serves as the foundation for building more efficient work processes through the minimization of data redundancy, assurance that data needed for specific applications or reports is acquired from the authoritative system of record, and the creation of a centralized storage of critical data that is accessible to all authorized users across the enterprise.
Data warehousing is about building a stable library of information compiled from transactional systems. The challenges include understanding the users and building what people need, integrating often disparate data as well as considering data quality and finding workable solutions when integration and data quality issues are encountered. The transactional systems were often homegrown, and duplication of data was evident through the utility.
“The issues we faced are not unique among utility organizations,” said Andy Neff, director of the SCESD. “The maintenance of the data stored in impromptu systems was vital to SCESD’s success, but keeping it in Excel documents on people’s desktops prevented introduction of proper security, maintenance and backup procedures and, moreover, kept us from fully integrating our information with our water and service delivery.”
Centralization & Collaboration
The Environmental Services (ES) Gateway is the solution developed to provide centralized access to and collaboration on critical information to the utility. Critigen worked with the user community to design and develop a comprehensive data warehouse and business-intelligent tool that combines many different technologies and goes beyond ordinary data warehouse delivery by providing interaction between the data warehouse, GIS and collaboration tools. Homegrown applications were brought into the Gateway to provide wider access, change control and data integration and expand on a single version of the truth concept.
Data warehousing often points out the weakness in existing systems and business processes. Critigen was able to help identify areas of improvement and offer solutions for maturing data management within the organization.
“Our activities related to customer information, maintenance, operations and permitting now work in concert,” Neff said. “We can be much more proactive in identifying business deficiencies and be far more responsive to impending needs because we can access and visualize all of the information that we need to manage from a single point of entry.”
To maximize cost savings and minimize maintenance, Critigen built the Web-based applications using a suite of off-the-shelf technologies to provide map- or text-based analysis, collaboration, work flow, ad hoc reporting, document management and data management. This supports activities related to customer information, maintenance and operations, permitting and other critical utility information.
In developing the ES Gateway, Critigen gave the SCESD:
The new technology allowed SCESD to convert three critical nonenterprise databases (customer complaints, water flushing events and lift station inventory) to enterprise systems, and the underlying data was made available through the ES Gateway. As a result:
Furthermore, critical data sets used for planning and reporting (e.g., top water consumers, water consumed vs. water permitted, water quality complaints and meter inventories) were established and made available directly through the ES Gateway. As a result: