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Credit: EID

With geospatial time series management, El Dorado (Calif.) Irrigation District information support technician III Timothy Hance, left, and Guy Barritt, GIS/drafting/graphics unit supervisor, could forecast and model trends in drinking water supplies over their entire watershed.
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Credit: EID

For an agency with multiple responsibilities, such as managing drinking water supplies and providing hydro-electric power generation and recreation functions, GTSM could help manage demands and temporarily shift resources to hot spots, such as EID's 21 MW powerhouse.

Transforming data into a decision-making tool is a major step. To date, computer applications have fallen far short of replacing human intelligence. Regardless of special features and upgrades, mapping and data collection tools have not eliminated the need for experienced eyes to review the data.

“What's lacking in current tools is the ability to forecast,” said Timothy Hance, information support technician III for the El Dorado Irrigation District (EID) in California. “GTSM can answer the questions, ‘What has happened? What's going to happen?' That's the piece I'm excited about—forecasting and modeling based on real data, not just an estimate.”

A MANAGEMENT DASHBOARD

Besides modeling conditions for specific facilities, GTSM offers managers a means of taking the agency's pulse at any given moment. Using the easily understood image of a dashboard, GTSM translates an array of data variations into a graphical management tool.

Dials on the dashboard would represent parameters such as water supply levels, effluent quality for wastewater discharge regulations, cash flow, and many others. A dial moving from green (good) to yellow (caution) to red (problem) would indicate the status of each parameter. Managers would not have to wade through and interpret raw data or review staff reports using data from past weeks or months. Instead, the dashboard would present the current results of GTSM's intelligent—and constant—data integration.

EID faces daily management challenges across its drinking water, waste-water treatment, recycled water, hydroelectric power generation, and recreation functions. The district is considering GTSM as a tool for managing its varied demands.

“From a manager's standpoint, integrated data allows you to discover where there are problem areas and where things are running smoothly,” said Ane Deister, EID general manager. “That allows managers to carefully borrow staffing and other resources from one area to address the problem area, without creating another problem in the process. This offers some breathing room in management.”

PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS

Among other functions, GTSM can:

  • Determine the most cost-effective use of power in non-peak periods
  • Track peak contaminant loads and times for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System compliance
  • Evaluate a facility's historic responses to changing conditions, whether natural or operational
  • Track trends in customer calls to identify possible service problems.
  • Without GTSM, public works agencies must make a number of decisions by applying staff time and experience to the significant amounts of data they collect.

    “We collect a lot of information,” said Steve Setoodeh, PhD, EID facilities management department head. “GTSM integrates all of this information and brings it to a summation. That's much easier to deal with than voluminous data.”

    GTSM offers another benefit: By creating a decision-making tool, the technology can help address the loss of experiential knowledge occurring as the number of long-term employees in government agencies dwindles.