HxGN LOCAL Talk Series - Improving Data Quality for Urban Sewerage Systems

How can we maintain or even improve data quality in urban sewerage systems? What resources are available for data validation, efficient troubleshooting, and improving sewage-related processes?

Urban sewerage is a highly relevant topic being addressed by many wastewater and water conservation professionals, because a lot of time and money are at stake. The high topicality of this issue and an extensive group of involved experts prompted Hexagon Safety & Infrastructure, together with Konradin Fischer, managing director of Fischer Ingenieure AG, to prominently feature this subject during the first HxGN LOCAL Talk event in Zurich, Switzerland. For the event, around 20 representatives from cantonal and municipal authorities as well as various engineering companies met at the TIME Lounge in Zurich's main station and discussed common answers to the most pressing questions surrounding urban sewerage. Here’s a look at the topics and discussions.

Hardware costs 1 CHF, Software 10 CHF, While the Data Costs 100 CHF
Immediately after Hexagon Safety & Infrastructure’s Andreas Kuratli welcomed participants to the event, Konradin Fischer addressed the topics at hand. Fischer detailed the main procedural challenges and error sources during General Sewerage Plan (GEP) projects. A lot of time and energy are invested into validating data before it is sent to the GEP engineer. However, when the data is returned, it often contains new errors. Fischer emphasized the need to reduce the friction losses at interfaces between different departments and their individual software programs. Provocatively, he stated that “hardware costs 1 CHF, software costs 10 CHF, while the data costs 100 CHF,” to stress how much time and money it requires to truly maintain high data quality.

The GEP data checker, developed by the VSA (Verband Schweizer Abwasserfachleute, Association of Swiss Sewage Specialists), is a tool for validating sewerage-related data regarding technical and formal quality as well as for transforming data between the VSA-DSS and VSA-DSS-Mini data models. Fischer’s Ingenieure AG reports on good experiences with this tool. However, current estimates calculate that 80 percent of all data have not been evaluated with this tool at all.

Data Collection Within the System Is the Perfect Moment for Data Validation
Konradin Fischer’s presentation sparked discussion among the event’s 20 specialists. Pirmin Schmid, geomatic specialist from bucher+partner ag, rightfully described the initial gathering of data in the system as the perfect opportunity for data validation. The Hexagon team identified this need but pointed out that extensive validation during the data gathering process may be inconvenient or even detrimental at times. Hexagon’s main idea was to smartly integrate the GEP data validator into GEOS Pro NIS – a local cadaster solution – to enable extensive periodical or situational plausibility checks. This implementation and the approach for troubleshooting were demonstrated using a real-life DSS dataset. Using EdgeFrontier, Hexagon’s interface platform, would make it possible to automate all sub-steps, from the GEP data checking to the visualization of errors in GEOS Pro NIS.

The Barrier Between GIS and GEP Software Has to be Removed
After an hour of lively exchange, the discussion group enjoyed refreshments. Most experts agreed on the potential for improvement and value of GEP data validation as well as its integration into GEOS Pro NIS as important steps towards improving data quality. One aspect all attendees could agree upon was the realization that the HxGN LOCAL Talk event represented a valuable platform for exchanging ideas and discussing solution that impact municipalities across Switzerland.

We have another HxGN LOCAL Talk event on June 6 in Zurich. We will discuss technology trends improving collaboration capabilities of public safety organizations. We will be sure to share the topics, discussions, and outcomes. So, check back soon.

About Fabian Zwimpfer

Fabian Zwimpfer is a sales and marketing representative focused on tender management, business development initiatives, and industry events in Switzerland. Prior to joining Hexagon in 2015, Fabian was a teaching assistant at the Institute for Mechanical Systems while working on his Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering at ETH Zurich.