Published on 19-Feb-2013
"We're taking a proactive approach and making data‐driven decisions to run a smarter city." - Gary Gilot, Director of Public Works, City of South Bend
City of South Bend, Indiana
The city of South Bend is the fourth largest city in Indiana. Its Water Works department operates a water distribution and treatment system that includes eight water production facilities, four filtration plants, and more than 600 miles of water distribution piping. The sister Wastewater Utility operates 550 miles of sewers, which regularly manage 48 million gallons of waste water a day.
Like many US cities, the city’s sewer infrastructure was aging, and even the best efforts at manual monitoring still resulted in hundreds of residential basement backups every year and the need to manage untreated combined sewer overflow discharge, typically totaling 2 billion gallons a year.
The city of South Bend, Indiana, used IBM Intelligent Operations Center to improve its water management. Nucleus found that integration of IBM technology with smart valves and sensors helped the city to be proactive in its water management, avoiding additional investments while improving public health.
The city: - Reduced dry weather overflows by 95 percent - Increased capture and treatment by 23 percent - Reduced potential EPA penalties
THE BOTTOM LINE
The city of South Bend, Indiana, used IBM Intelligent Operations Center to improve its water management. Nucleus found that integration of IBM technologies with the city’s smart valves and sensors helped the city to gather and analyze sewer system data more efficiently. This Smarter Cities project enabled South Bend to be proactive in its water management to reduce the number of incidents from about 30 to only one or two a year, reduce dry weather overflows by 95 percent, and increase capture and treatment by 23 percent. By doing this the city was able to avoid additional infrastructure investments and improve public health and safety while avoiding potential EPA penalties.
Payback: 1.3 years
Average annual benefit: $326,321
The city of South Bend is the fourth largest city in Indiana. Its Water Works department operates a water distribution and treatment system that includes eight water production facilities, four filtration plants, and more than 600 miles of water distribution piping. The sister Wastewater Utility operates 550 miles of sewers, which regularly manage 48 million gallons of waste water a day. In wet weather the wastewater treatment system can manage 77 millions of gallons a day from residential customers as well as rain water runoff. To support further wet weather treatment capacity while preserving reserve capacity for economic development, the city plans to increase waste water treatment plant capacity to 100 million gallons a day.
Like many US cities, the city’s sewer infrastructure was aging, and even the best efforts at manual monitoring still resulted in hundreds of residential basement backups every year and the need to manage untreated combined sewer overflow discharge, typically totaling 2 billion gallons a year. In 2011 the city determined that a significant investment would be needed for its combined sewer system to meet US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulatory compliance. The City of South Bend’s Department of Public Works needed to improve its monitoring and control in real time of its combined sewer system to better understand when and why problems, such as river overflows or sewage blockages and resulting basement backups, occurred, and to proactively take measures to avoid potentially costly federal fines and cleanup efforts.
South Bend started by investing in smart valves and water sensors at 116 locations in 2006, but the sheer volume of data produced made manual data collection and analysis more demanding than could be accomplished by existing municipal staff. Working with IBM and a professor from the University of Notre Dame, the city’s planners (with support from the mayor) planned a proof of concept to evaluate how IBM Intelligent Operations Center (IOC) technology and the IBM cloud could be used to operationalize the analysis of data and automate proactive sewer monitoring and response. This plan included:
- Development of economic-based algorithms that could be used to proactively monitor changing weather forecasts and determine the optimal flow of waste water based on the lowest cost of problem resolution.
- Programming of the smart valves so they could dynamically execute on the algorithms based on incoming data from weather forecasts and the water sensors. For example, currently they optimize management of upland basins and 9 trunk sewers to the inceptor sewer to the waste water plant. In the future, they will be able to allocate waste from the main arterial sewer to an alternate storage and high-rate treatment plant in real time as needed.
- Delivering both real-time and historical data in heat maps and other intuitive analysis tools, such as historical graphs with sliding timelines, so municipal workers without statistical or analytics knowledge could use the data to proactive identify problems and take corrective action before incurring overtime or residential damage.
- Deploying the IOC in the IBM cloud so the municipality could focus its limited resources on city management instead of an IT infrastructure to support the fluctuating analysis needs of the project.
The proof of concept for the project began in the fall of 2011 and the solution was implemented in May 2012. Today, the IBM IOC collects data from all 116 locations every five minutes, 24 hours per day. The information is then stored in the cloud, which accelerates data access and analysis. To analyze the data, South Bend uses the built-in dashboards offered by IOC which have been customized to best address its needs. The processing of the information is done by IOC in the IBM datacenter to provide South Bend with key performance indicators (KPIs). The KPIs are displayed in easy-to-understand visual dashboards that crews can use to proactively flush and clear key points in the system as needed to reduce the risk of overflows or backups.
The city is still fine-tuning its use of IOC but is using the data to test optimized algorithms to deal with specific storm conditions. The system is architected so new algorithms can be pushed to the minicomputer at any smart valve and then be automatically replicated to valves across the city. This capability is delivered as part of a strategic alliance with startup technology company Emnet, LLC, which handles the field data collection capabilities.
Cost : Benefit Ratio 1 : 2.0
KEY BENEFIT AREAS
By using IOC to analyze the public works and water flow data, the city of South Bend was able to be more proactive in addressing potential public health risks. Key benefits of the project included:
- Reduced maintenance costs. Before using the sensors and IOC, the city of South Bend used to deal with difficult situations after they occurred because there was no way to predict their impact. The new system allows the city to constantly monitor the interceptor sewer along the river and proactively take action before combined sewer overflows reach critical limits.
- Avoided infrastructure investment. To deal with unexpected situations such as combined sewer overflows into the river, the city of South Bend needed to invest in improving its existing infrastructure and even build new storage capacities, which would only be used in exceptional cases to capture the extra combined sewer overflow. By monitoring the interceptor sewer along the river in real time, the city can better utilize its capacity for storage and treatment, thus eliminating the need for costly investments in infrastructure for more conveyance, storage, and treatment facilities.
- Avoided fines. Although each incident does not always result in a fine, the city was able to improve its EPA compliance, reducing the number of incidents from about 30 to only one or two incidents per year, after implementing IOC and intelligent sensors, avoiding a conservatively estimated 60 percent of potential fines.
- Improved public health and safety. The city has been able to reduce dry weather overflows by 95 percent and increase capture and treatment by 23 percent. It has also enabled field workers to view and understand the data to identify potential problem areas before they cause damage from basement backups or other problems that require staff overtime to resolve.
KEY COST AREAS
The city invested in software, consulting, and personnel to complete its deployment of IOC. No hardware investment was needed because the data collection and analysis takes place in the IBM cloud. An investment of $400,000 was needed for the proof of concept for the project. A project manager spent five hours per week for six months to prepare and implement IOC.
Nucleus found that the city’s success was largely because of key best practices embodied by the most impressive Smarter Cities projects Nucleus has analyzed including:
- Extension of analytics capabilities to non-analyst end users. Intuitive presentations of the data empower municipal workers to confidently interpret and act on data to proactive solve potential overflow situations.
- Partnership with experts that can apply new thinking to traditional problems. With the support of the Mayor and the University of Notre Dame, the decision makers at South Bend were able to embrace and execute on a new model most cost-effective and environmentally acceptable resolution to drive public works management.
- Instrumentation driving the execution of analytics and algorithms to smart devices. Because the smart valves can be dynamically managed and new algorithms can be automatically propagated throughout the system, the city can continue to optimize its waste management without an additional investment in IT resources.
CALCULATING THE ROI
Nucleus calculated the costs of consulting, personnel, and software licenses to quantify the investment the city of South Bend made in the IOC project. Although the investment in sensors drove data collection for analysis, the cost of the sensors and valves was not included in the calculation of ROI because they were purchased and installed before the IOC proof of concept; as such, they were a separate investment and considered a sunk cost. IOC costs were treated on an upfront subscription basis (costs for year one are represented in the software line for the pre-start period) to ensure 3 years of ongoing costs are accurately compared to 3 years of benefit.
Direct benefits quantified for the project included the avoidance of additional public works infrastructure that would have been required had IOC not been implemented, the avoidance of potential EPA fines based on the historical level of incidents the city experienced, and the redeployment of two staff members who were previously responsible for manual inspection and monitoring of the physical infrastructure. Not quantified was the impact on public health of becoming more efficient in managing its water treatment system. The city of South Bend has been able to optimize the use of its treatment capacity and store 10 million gallons for future reserve capacity, bringing total reserve capacity to 13 million gallons per day. These indirect benefits translate into a better reputation for the city and the living conditions it offers, and continued economic and social growth.
NucleusResearch.com Copyright 2012 Nucleus Research Inc. Nucleus Research Report M165 ‐ IBM Smarter Cities ROI case study ‐ City of South Bend, Indiana