GHD digitises water catchment surveys

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7 November 2017

A new digital application that streamlines environmental work has earned GHD’s Digital team recognition at the Victorian Spatial Excellence Awards in Australia.

The company won the Spatial Enablement Award for making the process of conducting sanitary surveys of drinking water catchments more efficient and less prone to error.

The purpose of these surveys is to identify sources of microbial pathogens in water catchments and systematically quantify the risk to human health.

The cost, risk and usability of this surveying process have now been significantly improved, thanks to GHD’s in-house application development capabilities, combined with data collection and visualisation tools from ESRI.

“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,” Mina Jahanshahi, GHD’s Senior Advisor – Location Intelligence, says.

“Each step is not only time-consuming, 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.

“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.”

GHD’s new approach has been used by Melbourne Water, SEQWater and Barwon Water.

On site, the user utilises their preferred device to complete a ‘smart’ questionnaire that dynamically selects and presents questions based on previous answers. The cumulative risks are calculated and presented live depending on the responses, and can be further refined when the scientist returns to the office.

The result is a clear, streamlined and repeatable process that can be done in a consistent manner by different people in the field. Every stakeholder can see online where the surveys are taken, what the results are, and which surveys are still outstanding.

All surveys are kept in a digital form, including photo evidence and written comments, so no data is lost in conversion. The end report can be immediately generated using a Python script.

Kumar Parakala, GHD’s Global Digital Leader, says, “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. We can use digital tools to streamline and automate, freeing up people to apply their domain knowledge and develop insights.”

 

A GHD person using a tablet in the field

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