Monday, 20 September 2010

Bournemouth improves water pipe repairs with risk modelling software

It seems that Bournemouth & West Hampshire Water (BWHW), a UK water company that supplies around half a million people, has been using @Risk software from Palisade to prioritise repairs to its pipe network.

A major problem for the water industry in the UK is that  pipes laid in the Victorian era are still in service and a wide variety of materials — including cast iron, ductile iron, cement, PVC and plastic have been used over the years. On top of that there are now stringent requirements set out by OFWAT (the regulator for England and Wales) to provide good quality service and reduce water leaks. For BWHW, managing an area spanning over 1000 square kilometres with nearly 3000 kilometres of water mains, it’s a challenge.

Pipes need to be replaced, so there is a need to identify which sections should be a priority for renewal. Infrastructure company Halcrow was commissioned to develop a risk-based model to improve the efficiency of the pipe replacement program. The company used the @Risk risk analysis software in conjunction with its own cluster analysis tool to assess the probability of pipe failures across the region, enabling BWHW to make more informed decisions.


An interesting story which highlights an area of green ICT that will grow in the long-term. There are a range of environmental issues, including extreme weather conditions as the result of climate change, that companies will need to factor into their business plans. It will ultimately come down to quantifying the risk with real numbers to justify corporate investment.

The story also helps clarify some aspects of the ‘green ICT’ market. Firstly, BWHW is not using the software because it’s an environmentally-concerned company (although it may be), but rather because it needs to be more efficient in meeting its regulatory obligations and customer expectations. It didn’t buy a green solution to save water, but that’s what happened.

It’s often said that there’s no such thing as green IT, and it’s (almost) true. There are lots of solutions bought for a variety of reasons that either directly or indirectly address environmental concerns. Some, such as carbon management software, would not exist but for climate change, but many only have a small ‘green’ element which, nevertheless, is coming increasingly into focus and expanding the product or service demand.

We use the term ‘green ICT’ because it’s a convenient catch-all that covers all those solutions. It’s not always a separate market, but an added reason why IT departments need specific products and services (and why vendors are using the label).

© The Green IT Review

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