The Bellman

Environmental Health

The Road to Better Management Tools
June.5.2018


The Road to Better Management Tools

Gaining new insights about onsite wastewater inventories can help regulators protect public health and the environment. However, regulators often lack good data and software that can be used to turn data into useful insights. Compounding this problem is the growth of operations and maintenance regulations, which creates more work for regulators and the need to understand and manage time sensitive data, like a service agreement or operations inspection. Successful management of onsite inventories will increasingly depend on good data and management tools that improve operational efficiencies and produce new insights.


Asking Questions & Visualizing Data

Even when good digital data is available, there are few options for using it as a management tool. Permitting systems by their nature are designed for record keeping workflows. These systems work well until you want to dive deeper and ask more complex questions about onsite wastewater inventories. For example, what if you wanted to evaluate multiple onsite system variables across watersheds in your jurisdiction, or simply view a map to identify systems with a service contract set to expire in the next three months. Questions and visualizations like these are not possible without location-based technology.

Answering complex questions, those that evaluate both system variables and location-based variables, and visualizing onsite data require technology most commonly associated with modern mapping technology like geographic information systems (GIS). These technologies enable regulators to visualize onsite wastewater data, perform multivariate assessments and generate reports that combine tabular records with maps to better communicate information.


The problem with mapping technology is that it requires someone with expertise to use it effectively, or a development team to build the tools that streamline and simplify complex GIS tasks. For most regulators and agencies, neither is a viable option. One alternative is to use purpose-built software designed for onsite wastewater workflows.

Purpose-Built Software

Purpose-built software, like FetchEH, is designed to make it easier for regulators to benefit from modern technologies. Because the data and tools in FetchEH are developed specifically for onsite wastewater workflows, the learning curve is reduced significantly compared to using out of the box mapping software. FetchEH for example, streamlines complex mapping and visualization tasks including mapping onsite systems, managing O&M events, visualizing onsite data, and creating custom insights and assessments. The benefit of purpose-built software is that the software is designed for your needs, rather than you learning how to make software meet your needs.


Ultimately it is a question of how you get to a point where data can be used to better manage onsite inventories and introduce new operational efficiencies. To achieve this, better data is first required and then access to tools that turn the data into management tools are needed. Purpose-built software simply makes the transition more efficient and lets regulators focus on their job now, rather than finding time to gain expertise in creating targeted applications that will meet their needs.

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