Upgraded Operations

Manila Water adopts advanced technology solutions

The Manila Water Company has been successful in deploying information and communications technology for strengthening the provisioning of its water and sewerage services. Using its enterprise geographic information system (GIS) application, the company incorporates the geospatial data collected by it to improve, among other things, the operations of its existing infrastructure, the designing of new projects, and the analysis of various growth strategies for the organisation. At present, Manila Water is integrating GIS with its enterprise asset management system. This is expected to help it further improve the utilisation and performance of its water and wastewater assets, reduce capital costs, and increase the return on assets.

Background

The Philippines government enacted the National Water Crisis Act in 1995. This served to transfer the operation of water supply services from the government-owned Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) to the private sector. The Ayala Corporation-led Manila Water Company entered into a concession agreement with MWSS in 1997. The service area of Manila Water covers nearly 40 per cent of the capital city. It serves a population of more than 6 million, providing over 1,180 million litres of water per day, catering to over 900,000 water service connections, and maintaining a network of 4,650 km of pipelines, among other assets.

Significant improvement

Since the concession agreement, Manila Water has brought about significant improvements in Metro Manila’s water supply sector. For instance, it is now serving an increased proportion of the population, and its operational efficiency has also been augmented. The level of non-revenue water in the city, which stood at around 63 per cent in 1997, was reduced to 11 per cent in 2012. The provision of 24×7 water supply services increased to cover 99 per cent of consumers in its service area as of December 2012, significantly higher than the 26 per cent recorded in 1997. The company has also succeeded in achieving 100 per cent compliance with water quality standards since 1998, an issue that had been of particular concern during the takeover.

The technological solutions deployed by Manila Water since 2009-10 have helped the company carry out the rehabilitation of the existing water supply system, and also led to an improvement in service delivery. Specifically, three key technological initiatives were taken up. First, an enterprise GIS was developed and integrated through the organisation. This enabled a large number of users to access spatial data and information for addressing a variety of needs like data creation, modification, visualisation, analysis and dissemination. The utility also undertook the mapping of all water meters in its service area and created digital records of service pipelines. In addition, it developed a single topographic map to align all its existing assets. Manila Water was able to introduce higher efficiency in operating, maintaining and renewing its assets by gathering, collating and analysing accurate real-time information on its supply infrastructure through the three initiatives listed above.

Enterprise GIS and asset management

Manila Water’s enterprise GIS has a wide range of usage, providing data and undertaking analyses for all the action plans formulated by the organisation. It has given a crucial impetus to the company’s business development. The system, which is maintained by a dedicated group of experts, has more than 20 direct accesses through which the GIS layers can be viewed. Water and sewer datasets are updated regularly upon the submission of as-built maps by contractors. GeoViewer Online, a web-based GIS application, has been developed to assist officials in accessing the database through internet and intra-net connections. It is being widely used within the Manila Water offices.

The application caters not only to the requirements of asset management, network efficiency, project proposals and reporting, but is also being used by project engineers for creating project designs. On the whole, the adoption of this advanced technology has increased the profitability of new projects as the company has been able to utilise the platform for implementing better cost management.

Manila Water has also employed the interface to enhance customer relationship management. For instance, the integration of its customer care and billing systems with the use of GIS has enabled the utility to identify a customer’s exact location by using global positioning system co-ordinates. This has greatly improved its ability to resolve complaints, resulting in a greater degree of satisfaction and an expanding consumer base.

Conclusion

With an eye on the future, the company has been integrating GIS with its core systems through enterprise asset management, work management and other business processes. It is also developing mobile applications to enforce stricter monitoring mechanisms. These steps will facilitate the use of advanced management techniques to sustain the optimum performance of assets at the lowest costs and attain substantial maturity in asset management over the next few years.

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