Integrating Microsoft Power BI with Cityworks can help utilities easily interpret key information about their assets.
In the area of Long Island known for inspiring the setting in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book The Great Gatsby, the Village of Great Neck, New York, is surrounded by scenic views from its two nearby bays. The primary objective of the Great Neck Water Pollution Control District (GNWPCD) is to protect the region’s bay environment. After more than a century of operations, GNWPCD is one of the most environmentally advanced wastewater treatment plants in the state.
The sewer utility is also ahead of the curve when it comes to data. GNWPCD has been collecting Cityworks data since 2012 and added GraniteNet closed-circuit television (CCTV) inspection data just a few years later. More recently, the utility began ongoing GIS data improvements using Esri’s Collector for ArcGIS integrated with a Trimble R2 GPS external receiver.
Although GNWPCD was generating a considerable amount of information, they still needed to make it useful for decision-making. The sewer utility needed a solution to help them achieve a greater return on investment and incorporate data into their capital planning.
Setting the Stage
GNWPCD consulted with POWER Engineers to develop a customized solution for visualizing their data within the Cityworks platform. Cityworks users can choose from several business intelligence (BI) solutions—from third-party integrations supported through Cityworks APIs to the analytical tools developed by Cityworks in conjunction with ArcGIS Insights.
Since Microsoft Office 365 was already being used throughout GNWPCD, this platform provided a logical starting point. Through a free trial of Microsoft Power BI, the project team quickly discovered that charts and graphs could be embedded directly into the Cityworks Inbox. Realizing the potential of Power BI, they went to work on the full implementation. With help from POWER Engineers, GNWPCD installed the Office 365 add-in and authored several Cityworks dashboards, each containing the new stunning visuals.
The team of consultants also helped configure a data gateway to provide the utility with a permanent connection to the Cityworks and GraniteNet databases. Power BI data is not truly “real time.” Rather, the gateway enables a refresh of the data according to a user-specified schedule.
The POWER Engineers team collaborated with GNWPCD to ensure that each of the newly created visuals within the dashboards was providing the maximum benefit possible for the sewer utility. This was done through various interactive demonstrations with the utility. Once a consensus was met on the functionality of the new dashboards, the platform was deployed through the Cityworks AMS Inbox so it would appear seamless to its end users.
From conception to completion, the project took just three months. Already, the integration of Power BI with Cityworks has proven to be beneficial for the sewer utility. The GNWPCD team can now easily visualize data in their Cityworks Inbox, reducing the number of saved searches needed to view similar information. For example, instead of selecting a few different criteria in a work order search, Power BI allows for interactive and simultaneous filtering on multiple visuals at once. The “table” type visual also allows users to directly open a work order from the filtered lists.
By viewing data in customized and easy-to-digest visuals, the utility is saving valuable time. One of the dashboards allows the GNWPCD team to simultaneously view work orders for different areas, helping the utility to efficiently balance work order distribution among their employees. The dashboard makes it easy to determine who has too many work orders assigned and who has too few with a clearly labeled and color-coded chart embedded directly into the inbox.
POWER Engineers helped the sewer utility create another dashboard to display their GraniteNet CCTV inspection data. Processing up to 5.3 million gallons of wastewater each day, a key initiative for GNWPCD is to have the ability to easily interpret condition data on their sewer lines. With the integrated Power BI dashboard, the utility can easily interpret their GraniteNet condition data collected from their extensive network of pipes.
For example, the team can view which pipes have the worst NASSCO Pipeline Assessment and Certification Program (PACP®) condition score, how condition varies across different pipe diameters and materials, and which pipes would be good candidates for lining versus point repair or replacement. Not only do dashboards like these help inform capital improvement decisions, but they also help the utility prioritize preventative maintenance of their assets, which in turn could save valuable time and money down the road.
Mapping Out the Future
Beyond their beautiful charts and diagrams, there’s another aspect to these dashboards that make them attractive—they are relatively simple to create. Power BI allows users the ability to duplicate pages, making it easy to develop new dashboards from existing ones and saving a considerable amount of time.
POWER Engineers is currently working with GNWPCD to add more dashboards to the collection. The future dashboards will help the utility track key performance indicators (KPIs) for various programs with the goal of monitoring efficiency and overall progress throughout the year. Having this data readily available is important, especially when it comes to maintaining a complex, 72-mile sanitary sewer system.
GNWPCD is currently using an InfoSense Sewer Line Rapid Assessment Tool (SL-RAT) for their sewer inspections in addition to standard CCTV equipment. With help from POWER Engineers, they plan to create a new dashboard that will monitor performance of the SL-RAT method. This dashboard will show KPIs such as the number of pipes inspected per week or month using SL-RAT versus established targets, which will provide the necessary data for the utility to make informed decisions about their personnel and equipment. With the new Cityworks and Power BI integration, GNWPCD has already seen improved decision-making in their preventative maintenance efforts and will soon have a way to continuously evaluate performance of other key programs. Armed with quality data, the sewer utility is well on their way to achieving their asset management goals—all while providing better protection for the environment and residents of Great Neck.
By Christopher Murphy, Superintendent, Great Neck Water Pollution Control District, and Elisa Peters, Senior Consultant, Power Engineers