New fit-for-purpose decision support tool for pipeline inspection technologies

Watershare is proud to announce the launch in mid-March 2017 of the beta version of a knowledge-based and decision-support toolbox for water and wastewater network inspection, rehabilitation, and monitoring technologies and methods. The toolbox was developed within the Future-Proof Water Infrastructure Community of Practice (FPWI CoP).

As identified by the FPWI CoP members, it is often difficult for network operators, asset managers or consultant engineers to select the most appropriate technology for pipeline inspection, rehabilitation or monitoring, given the specificity of the issues in each network, the available budgets and the multitude of technologies available on the market. Typically, this leads to the use of tools that are partially fit-for-purpose, based on in-house knowledge. This hinders the chances of innovative solutions being implemented in projects, while increasing costs and providing only semi-reliable results. Aware and affected by such factors, the members of the FPWI CoP are collecting their knowledge on technologies, tools and implementation cases (case studies) in a central repository, which will become the knowledge base for a new decision-support toolbox. The specific goal of this development is to connect end-users of inspection, rehabilitation or monitoring tools with the most appropriate solutions, by filtering the knowledge base in a user-friendly interface. The toolbox will consist of three modules addressing issues in the water and wastewater networks:

  • inspection for pipeline condition assessment and leak detection;
  • trenchless rehabilitation and replacement of damaged or unfit pipelines;
  • monitoring, data collection and analysis for water quality and quantity in the networks.

The decision-support tools draw information from each of the corresponding knowledge bases through a number of filters that can be customized by the users. The filters are designed to provide answers to most of the questions that the users might have, based on the characteristics of the network sector that requires inspection, rehabilitation or monitoring, such as diameter and material of the pipe, medium inside the pipe, and hindrance factors, among others.

Currently, the FPWI CoP is focusing its efforts on developing the first knowledge base, i.e., the inspection and leak detection module, by collecting implementation cases for a variety of tools from the CoP partners and their network of tool providers and utilities. The activity is coordinated by Ralph Beuken and Stefan Urioc of KWR, and Annika Malm of RISE (Research Institutes of Sweden), with participation from multiple Watershare partners active in the FPWI CoP. Annika Malm also acts as co-leader of the FPWI CoP on behalf of Svenskt Vatten, since Stefan Urioc shared the leader role with her in January 2017. Following the successful pilot of the first module, the CoP efforts will concentrate on developing the second and third knowledge-based modules of the toolbox.

In addition to providing an independent opinion grounded in global case studies of tool implementations, each module is expected to become a thriving community of knowledge exchange through the creation of discussion boards, where users can exchange and request additional information among themselves and with the Watershare members. Under this model, the decision-support toolbox is not only a knowledge repository, but a living platform where impressions and feedback can be circulated among implementers and potential new users of tools, and served to tool providers and innovative tool developers.

A beta version of the first module will be rolled out in mid-March 2017 for the Watershare members and partner water and wastewater companies, for them to provide feedback and commentary on its functionalities and content.