Applying New Technology to an Old Problem - Fracta and Esri

Fracta is applying new technology to an old problem – using Artificial Intelligence, specifically Machine Learning, and Esri® ArcGIS to assess and visualize the condition of buried drinking water mains. Fracta harnesses the power of big data and geospatial information to help water utilities predict the Likelihood of Failure (LOF) and then monetize the Business Risk of water main breaks.

Many of the community water systems in the United States are over 75 years old, the oldest being more than 150 years, and pipes are breaking at an increasing rate. These systems are spending millions of dollars on assessment, rehabilitation, and replacement of pipe each year. Unfortunately, current methodologies for condition assessment are expensive, time consuming, and frequently based on limited amounts of subjective data.  These methodologies are incapable of considering the hundreds, if not thousands, of geographical, environmental, and operating variables that could affect pipe condition.  That’s where Fracta, a fast, accurate, and affordable Machine Learning and GIS solution, can help.

Fracta is leveraging a Software as a Service (SaaS) business and delivery model using two Esri licensing bundles: Partner Bundles for large water utilities, who are currently using Esri, and Solution Delivery Licensing for small and medium utilities, who are not currently using Esri.

Fracta is a modular application, currently comprised of three modules: Likelihood of Failure (LOF), Consequence of Failure (COF), and Business Risk. Fracta authenticates directly with ArcGIS Online to access secured content and maps.

The LOF model uses a utility’s asset information and break data, along with Fracta’s machine learning algorithms, to determine a water main’s likelihood, or probability, of failure.  The model iterates over a thousand geographical and environmental variables, segment by segment, to find patterns in conditions the historical breaks present. The model then correlates those patterns to similar conditions and cohorts across the entire network. The result of this modeling is a likelihood of failure over the next 1, 3, and 5 years for each segment in the network.  Fracta then provides a ranked list of environmental variables by the level of correlation to historical breaks.

The COF module determines the severity of a failure and translates the failure into financial terms based on the direct and indirect costs associated with each segment.  Regional geospatial information of critical structures, assets, and features, that could affect the cost of these consequences, are highlighted in the tool.

Fracta calculates the Business Risk the utility carries, once likelihood and severity of a pipe failure are known. Business Risk is simply LOF multiplied by COF.

The Fracta SaaS application and Esri licensing models, Partner Bundles for current Esri customers and Solution Delivery Licensing for new Esri customers, provide a fast, accurate, and affordable condition assessment water utilities need to address aging water mains.

Connect with Fracta to learn more.

About the author

Christa is a GIS professional with a focus on water. Her experience includes implementing GIS workflows and technology, development of water system plans, and support of Information Technology initiatives. As a Water Specialist at Esri, Christa supports water, wastewater, stormwater, and water resources industries. She is a certified GIS Professional and holds a graduate degree in Geography.


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