Why is spatial information technology so important to water utilities?
According to respondents, this technology has the power to transform the effectiveness of their businesses by:
- Effectively locating people, places, services, businesses and points of interest
- Connecting systems, services and businesses
- Delivering services to customers, decision makers and regulatory authorities.
The Survey confirmed that GIS and spatial information makes a significant (high level) contribution to water authorities especially in the areas of knowledge management, locating assets and improved decision making.
Interestingly, Senior Managers were perceived to only moderately value the investment in the GIS technology. It remains unclear whether this is due to lack of awareness of the capability of the technology or whether it doesn’t live up their expectations.
Water authorities vary substantially in size, the nature of the services offered and infrastructure managed. To assist the analysis of the results survey, respondents have been allocated to one of four categories:
- Metropolitan Retail Authorities
- Large Urban Authorities (with greater than 35,000 connections)
- Small Urban Authorities (with less than 35,000 connections)
- Rural Water Authorities/Suppliers
The uptake of mobile mapping applications has also increased significantly since 2002. Mobile mapping is used primarily for asset mapping, problem solving (finding valves to shutoff), work-order dispatch and general data collection.
The size and type of authority influences many of the responses including the typical deployment cost. For example, on average, the Survey shows that rural water authorities spend between $50,000-$150,000 on their GIS implementation, while smaller urban water authorities spend closer to $300,000.
Another interesting dilemma highlighted in the Survey is the difference between the percentage of authority staff with access to GIS resources and the number that actually use them. Although spatial systems are typically made available to between 70% and 90% of authority staff (depending on the type of authority), generally around only 50% of these people actually use it.
Although ESRI software remains the dominant GIS product, now used by over 50% of water authorities, Open Spatial has substantially increased its market share over the past three years. Open Spatial’s success is in contrast to a substantial decline in the use of InfoMaster, Intergraph, MapInfo and AutoCAD.
This report does not reflect the GIS experience all water authorities in Australia. The survey results and this report are a representation of major trends in the use of GIS across the industry.