Richmond stays on top

The city of Richmond in B.C. sits, on average, at one-metre above sea level. The city’s infrastructure has to include continual water and waste pumping.

This wireless infrastructure earned Richmond an award for the most innovative use of technology from Information Builders Inc. at IBI’s Summit 2001, held last month in Orlando, Fla.

Richmond uses IBI’s WebFOCUS and AvantGo technologies together to create a single mobile application which allows city employees to remotely track, respond to alerts and monitor trends, according to Edward Hung.

Hung, manager of advanced research and technology for Richmond, said he was proud of what the city has accomplished.

“It is great to be recognized with such a prestigious award,” he said.

The Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system includes radio transmitters at 180 pumps, temperature sensors and river level monitors. These all send reports to a receiver, set atop a high hotel, which feeds into a control room – where alarm conditions, such as failed pumps or power outages can be defined.

Hung noted that before implementing the system, city workers were faced with millions of lines of data, but very little useful intelligence stemming from the data.

There was a solid monitoring and control system in place, but the reporting side was weak.

Hung said the city chose WebFOCUS partly because of the system’s ability to put reports to the Web, thus allowing anyone in the city to look at the information.

The system the city designed allowed any city official with access to the Web site to view recent alerts and trend information.

“This was something we just couldn’t do before, now it is key to our business,” Hung said.

He added that with the application’s wireless ability – enabled through Richmond’s pairing of WebFOCUS and AvantGo technologies – any city employee with a wireless PDA can gain immediate access to intelligence about the city’s infrastructure.

According to IBI, the City of Richmond was the first customer to utilize WebFOCUS and AvantGo technologies in this way.

CN Rail was also recognized for its chargeable services application, which provides timely information to manage billing collection.

This application, powered by WebFOCUS, will analyse invoices, adjustments and accounts receivable in order to provide statistical information about the services rendered.

This solution also provides information about customers’ rankings, stations, routes, etc.

For its use of this technology and the financial gains made through its use, CN Rail won the largest ROI award.