Surface Water Clearinghouse, City of Tacoma
GeoEngineers’ custom software application cuts staff’s data compilation and report formatting time in half
Custom application centralizes stormwater data and streamlines reporting


Custom application centralizes stormwater data and streamlines reporting
Expertise
  • Water Resources
  • GIS/IT Enterprise Strategic Planning
  • Environmental Data Management
  • Market Solutions

Market
  • Water & Natural Resources

Location
  • Tacoma, Washington

Overview

The City of Tacoma’s Department of Public Utilities had a thorny challenge. Each quarter, the City must collect and analyze large volumes of surface water-flow and chemical analytical data and report its findings to the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology).

Each reporting cycle, the City’s water quality lab provides the raw data for the reports in a series of spreadsheets. City staff had to process the raw data, re-enter it into different spreadsheets and produce the report according to Ecology specifications. This unwieldy process required nearly three months and three full-time staff to complete.

The City hoped to find a solution that would streamline the project and free up time to more fully evaluate and draw conclusions from the data, but it had limited IT resources to implement a technology solution. City staff discussed the challenge with a GeoEngineers scientist who specializes in water-quality issues, and he suggested that the City engage GeoEngineers’ Applied Technology team to evaluate the challenge.

Approach

GeoEngineers’ Applied Technology team brought the City’s water quality, IT and lab staff together for a Rapid Assessment Workshop, a one-day discussion to identify objectives, data sources and wishes and match these needs with available software products and platforms. From this discussion, the City confirmed that it wanted a solution that streamlined the reporting process, was independent of any specific software product (and related licensing fees) and had a minimal impact on its small IT staff.

GeoEngineers’ solution effectively addressed the City's concerns:

  • Using the requirements gleaned from the Rapid Assessment Workshop, GeoEngineers developed a custom software application that collects raw data from different sources into a single database and produces formatted reports that meet Ecology requirements.
  • Implemented a system that allowed the City to increase quality control of the data and provide trending analyses
  • Retroactively added nine years of data and reviewed for data integrity

Results

The new automated system works seamlessly, reducing the time required to produce reports by at least half.