One key use for InfoNet within water distribution companies is as a tool to assist in planning mains rehabilitation work. As the utility can determine which properties or customers are affected by repair work to an individual pipe, whether planned or emergency works, it is able to take proactive measures to ensure customers and repair contractors are aware of the impending supply restriction.
Viewing customer complaints
All water companies have a Customer Complaints mechanism, which allows members of the public to inform the water company of problems with their water supply, such as leakages, low pressure or discolouration. Using InfoNet this department can display or view the network with its underlying mapping information and any incidents or customer notifications located and colour coded to indicate their status – for example yellow for low pressure, and light blue for discolouration. The number or severity of the complaint can then be assessed to determine when the next step of requesting a repair should be instigated.
The assessment could include:
The number of properties affected
The types of customers affected:
“At Risk” customers
Industrial supply contracts
The number of previous problems with supply
The number of previous problems with low pressure
The type of complaint
Assessing the effect
Once the incident has been added an assessment can be undertaken. Using InfoNet’s “Trace” feature the customers affected by a planned network shutdown can be determined. It can:
Identify the valve or valves that have to be shut to isolate the network
Identify the extent of the network so isolated and consequently the customers linked to the isolated network
The customers can then be assessed to determine the affect on the network shutdown. This affect will determine the priority and the safeguards to be taken when undertaking the shutdown.
The analysis of all customer attributes stored within InfoNet allows for the prioritising of repairs to achieve the desired result.
Once the priority has been determined for the repair InfoNet can be used to manage the flow of information out to the various departments that are to be notified, the external contractor who will undertake the repair and also the affected customers requiring notification.
The information required for each group can be collated and the process of issuing these targeted data sets managed by InfoNet. Plans, reports and action timetables can be created to suit the requirement. Repair objects can be added to the network. These objects can be populated with the Project Managers (PM) information and the Repairs Contractors (RC) information.
This information can be updated and revised according to the status of the repair – that is, planned, in progress or completed by the PM or RC. All changes are automatically stored within the InfoNet dataset by flagging and noting. This allows a complete audit trail of every change to the network data.
InfoNet can also generate reports, listing contact information, addresses, phone numbers and other relevant information, either in a general form or tailored to specific requirements.
The utility can then generate standard letters from InfoNet’s customer records and these can then be mailed, emailed or hand-delivered to affected customers.
Finally, when the repair is complete, the master InfoNet dataset for all the affected customers can be updated to reflect the fact that a disruption has occurred, data that is required by water regulators (such as OFWAT in the UK) for their annual performance report.
InfoNet Global Product Manager Stuart Dodd says: “The customer service performance of water distribution companies is being driven to ever-higher levels by regulatory requirements. Performance in repairing leaks is an issue of considerable concern because of the intense government focus on leveraging improvements in companies’ efficiency, and also because of increasing concerns about the environmental impacts of over-abstraction in areas of water shortage.
“However, companies are well aware that they must not forget their customers when tackling the mounting levels of repair work they are being required to do. Balancing the overriding need to put customers first against the overwhelming pressure to cut water losses can be a difficult task.
InfoNet can enable companies to quickly locate any customers that will be affected by proposed works, and put in place all the measures necessary to ensure they are fully informed and protected ahead of the repairs. Having a comprehensive tool such as InfoNet streamlines this entire process, so companies can be confident that they are delivering the optimum service to their customers when planning and initiating repairs that affect their networks.”