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Fall 2002
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United Kingdom Company Vastly Improves Information Retrieval and Management

Severn Trent Water Moves 14,500 Paper Maps to GIS

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Severn Trent Water's service area in the midlands of England as displayed via the inquiry application.

One of the world's largest water companies, Severn Trent Water (STW) operates 200 water treatment works, 1,013 sewage treatment works, 32,000 miles of water pipelines, and 30,000 miles of sewers. The company supplies water and wastewater services to more than eight million people living in an 8,100-square-mile area of the midlands around its Birmingham, England, headquarters. STW has traditionally managed these assets using mainly paper-based maps maintained to varying standards in 10 record offices located throughout the STW region. To manage these assets more effectively, STW needed to improve access to information about underground assets, develop greater capability to improve the quality of asset information, and reduce the cost of information management to make informed decisions.

STW had been a long-time user of water modeling products from Esri Business Partner Advantica Stoner (Carlisle, Pennsylvania), a worldwide provider of technology-based pipeline and utility solutions. Because of this relationship, Advantica Stoner recommended that STW implement a GIS system to help manage its asset records and facilitate more frequent and accurate model updates. Advantica Stoner assisted STW with the feasibility study, gap analysis, data modeling, and data evaluation.

By April of 1999, STW announced the beginning of its three-year, multimillion dollar Underground Asset Data Management System (UADMS) project, intended to streamline its manual record system into a single, strategic asset data information system. Led by STW's Business Change Team, Advantica Stoner, and Severn Trent Systems, this multiyear venture included GIS implementation, water and wastewater system data conversion, applications development, network modeling integration, supporting software procurement, land base procurement/migration, hardware procurement, technical assistance, and training and maintenance support.

After an intensive effort to match the capabilities of market-leading, commercial GIS offerings to the priority needs of the UADMS project, including cost, performance, open architecture, etc., STW selected ArcFM from Esri Business Partner Miner & Miner (Fort Collins, Colorado) and Esri technology, including ArcView and ArcSDE, as its platform of choice. With the GIS platform chosen, database development and application design began.

Converting Millions of Features From Thousands of Paper Maps

UADMS involved conversion of approximately two million water distribution features from more than 14,500 paper maps. In addition, the water assets of one record office needed to be migrated from a legacy database, while sewerage data consisting of more than one million mains was translated from another legacy database. In addition, 3.2 million property records were assigned to their associated water pipes. In this effort, Advantica Stoner worked with STW to develop specifications to assure standardization in conversion of the sources from each of the record offices and the legacy databases. Advantica Stoner also established acceptance criteria for water and sewerage conversion and developed a plan for data validation to assure STW that the data being delivered met those criteria. The resulting UADMS database is an Oracle database weighing in at approximately 30 GB and growing.

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The inquiry application allows the user to query the project database and generate a variety of standard reports.

Advantica Stoner created a family of customized Esri software-based GIS applications that met the needs of STW's Business processes and information technology systems to create an enterprise GIS. ArcView software-powered Enquiry allows users to query the UADMS database for records, generate a variety of standard reports, and display and redline UADMS data. For records management, Advantica Stoner provided a Java-based Records Management application that accesses Oracle to allow STW users to query a project-tracking database to review project history and status and to change project priorities and user responsibility assignments. The Update application uses the ArcFM engine to allow users to execute any of a series of processes required to edit the UADMS database.

These custom applications included a modeling interface application written in C and using Esri's ArcSDE C API interface to extract data from the UADMS database to a series of shapefiles and comma delimited (CSV) files. Using Advantica Stoner's DataPrep application, these files can then be converted to a SynerGEE compatible Microsoft Access application MDB file. In addition, Advantica Stoner developed a customer interface application between the GIS and the customer information system. At the heart of the GIS environment is a central, multiprocessor, HP UNIX system that is home to the entire database (spatial and attribute). STW is now using these applications across the entire region at 21 unique locations with approximately 150 desktops employing the applications.

From Concern to Delight

STW's director of asset management, John Banyard, comments, "When we first looked at this project, I have to admit that I was concerned by the complexity of what we were attempting to do; after all there are few utilities that cover 8,000 square miles with 32,000 miles of water main and 30,000 miles of sewer. It is with great delight, therefore, that I have been able to follow the implementation of UADMS, which has been on or ahead of schedule and where the costs have been contained within the approved budget."

For STW, the UADMS project is the final step in a transformation that began in 1974, when the British government formed it by combining 242 separate water and wastewater undertakings, each with its own records system. In the years since, STW has made a number of strides in reducing the differing record systems; however, the UADMS project has transformed the largely manual record systems into a strategic technology platform that can serve STW's current and future needs.

For more information, contact Tom Coolidge, senior vice president, Advantica Stoner, 1170 Harrisburg Pike, Carlisle, Pennsylvania 17013 (tel.: 717-243-1900, fax: 717-243-5564, e-mail:, Web:

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