The Bellman

TheBellman.2017.Issue.3.July 2017
Collecting Storm Water Data

The Bay County Road Commission recently launched their Fetch Road Commission (RC) service and are using it to collect storm water data in the field. The data collection project puts Fetch RC in the hands of field staff who use visit storm water infrastructure previously mapped using GPS. The previously mapped storm water data provides the location and elevation of manholes. Field staff are equipped with tablets, which use Fetch RC to provide access to a wide range of Bay County map layers, including imagery, parcels and the manhole locations.

The field team visits each manhole, opens the lid and enters information into Fetch RC about the site, such as the invert depth and pipe diameter. Invert depths are then used to determine the invert elevation by subtracting the invert depth from the manhole elevation. Field teams also map the pipes and use the invert elevations to determine flow direction, which will be used in the future to develop a hydrologic model that can be used to manage storm water infrastructure more effectively. The project will also make storm water infrastructure data more accessible to internal staff as well as field crews.

The Fetch RC service runs on the FetchGIS Platform and provides field workflows for data collection and mapping, integrates with Bluetooth GPS and works in offline environments. To learn more about how Fetch RC or the Bay County Road Commission project get in touch.

Assessing Septic System Risk

In the previous two Bellman issues we presented information about a pilot project to map septic system site plans from the filing cabinet. Another similar project we have been working on is integrating septic system information from an existing permitting database. The objective of these projects is to develop effective methodologies and standards for converting septic system site plans and permit information into geospatial data, that in turn can be used to understand more about the health of septic systems in a community. In many ways, it is similar to parcel mapping where much of the original map inventory is on paper with information about the parcel, or in this case septic system, managed in a database. The difference is that most parcels are now mapped, while very few septic systems are mapped.

Mapping septic systems has many benefits including the traditional digital benefits of improved management, workflow efficiencies and improved distribution/accessibility. But even more important is that mapping septic system inventories can also benefit public health and water quality by helping regulators use data to identify, monitor and mitigate at risk systems more effectively. But to get to the insights and risk assessment you first need good data where location is a central component.

Knowing the location of septic systems enables regulators to use more than system variables like age, tank size and drain field size, to evaluate risk. Location opens the door to using spatial data, such as soil conditions, proximity to water and system density, along with system variables to gain a better understanding or risk. This approach to risk assessment also considers the impact of system failure, which helps regulators focus limited resources on systems that are both at risk of failing and have the greatest impact to public health and water quality.

As we progress with Fetch EH we will be working with partners to develop community wide septic system inventories and integrate risk assessment tools and data driven insights and visualizations. If you would like to learn more about Fetch EH or view the early work on risk assessment get in touch.

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